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The Escape

The Escape

By dumani

The ride to the airport with Mr. Andreas was a silent affair. Sandile could tell this was not the first time that Mr. Andreas had done something like this and he seemed rather calm for a man committing a crime against the state in assisting Sandile to get out of the country. Although the process was all legal in how Sandile’s grandmother had gotten him the passport and his American visa the security police still wanted to find his parents for contravention of state statues against supporting banned political organizations. Sandile being in the country when his parents had fled would be dangerous for his whole family and himself. When they got to the town of Engcobo Mr. Andreas finally spoke to Sandile.

“We are going to stop at the BP gas station in Engcobo. Just try and act casual. I have to go to the rest room but you don’t have to get out of the car. If you look in the backseat I have packed a cooler box with some snacks in it for you”.

When they got to the BP gas station in Engcobo Mr. Andreas casually got out of the car and spoke in Xhosa to the gas attendant to fill up the tank of his 4x4 land cruiser. The gas attendant did not pay any attention to Sandile and simply thought he was the errand boy for the white man. Sandile reached to the rear seat opened the cooler box and pulled out a sandwich and reluctantly took a bite. He was still unsure of Mr. Andreas and still thought he could have been sent by the security police to turn him in whilst fooling his grandmother and Mr. Dabula. Perhaps the sandwich was poisoned. He stopped eating it looked at it for a moment and opened the car window to offer it to the gas attendant. The gas attendant thanked him but not before his actions had been observed by Mr. Andreas coming out of the toilet. Mr. Andreas knew he had a short time to gain Sandile’s trust, as he did not want things to go wrong at the boarder control. Mr. Andreas paid the gas attendant, thanked him in Xhosa and somewhat slid into the drivers side of the car not wanting to frighten Sandile with any sudden movements. He could tell the boy was scared and still confused about the events of the morning at his school. They were both silent for another hour until they got to the city of Umtata. Mr. Andreas knew that it was another hour and a half to the Transkei boarder and he had to make Sandile confortable.

“You know nkwenkwe this is the city where I first met your father Aggrey. We were both teachers in mathematics at University of the Transkei in 1972 when he arrived from Accra Ghana. That is also where he met your mother Phumla as well. He was never satisfied with how this country was and brought a lot of learning experiences from Ghana about national independence from colonial rule”.

“Sir what is colonial rule”?

“Nkwenkwe it is when a foreign minority rule over the majority by force”.

Mr. Andreas thought he had lost Sandile in his explanation but he was pleasantly surprised by his answer.

“Oh you mean like when white people suppress the rights of black people in South Africa and Africa for material or resource gain. Reminds me of one of my fathers history lessons he used to give my sister and I before bed when he would visit from Johannesburg”.

“Mr. Dabula told me you always came number one in your classes. Perhaps I should stop referring to you as inkwenkwe”.

“Don’t worry sir it does not offend me as I am still not circumcised yet and I have to go to the mountains in five years when I turn fifteen or sixteen. Then I will go back to Cofimvaba and take Anelisa with me”.

“Oh I see. So you are in love”.

Mr. Andreas broke out into light laughter. Sandile was now a tad bit confused and wanted to explain himself.

“Anelisa is like my sister and we have grown up together. I don’t know how I will be able to cope without her. She always protects me and listens to my stories. I am like her brother”.

“Well I guess that is fine kwedini (young man), in the end most married couples become like brother and sister in their depth of their love. People understand one another as family as time progresses rather than lovers. I guess you were lucky then to have known that kind of love”.

Sandile had no answer for Mr. Andreas and stared at the road ahead. They did not speak again for their entire trip to East London airport. Mr. Andreas had succeeded in getting Sandile’s trust and they were both comfortable with one another. They passed the boarder gate with no complications and arrived at East London Airport at five pm. Mr. Andreas dropped Sandile off in the domestic departures drive way.

“Just walk straight through the main doors and there will be someone to take you to your departure gate inside the main entrance”.

“Who will take me sir I don’t understand. You told me you were going to tell me how to get to Johannesburg and then London to meet my father and my sister”.

“Sorry young man, plans have changed and this is as far as I can go. I don’t want to attract unnecessary attention to myself. If there are security police in the airport they might think I am smuggling you out of the country”.

Sandile begun to sob a tad bit but stopped the tears as he wanted to act like a man in front of this stranger whom had taken him hours from home and was now abandoning him at an airport far from his village of Cofimvaba. He looked around for a taxi. He knew how to take taxis as he had often taken taxis by himself to visit his relatives in the surrounding villages to Cofimvaba.

“Sir can I have a hundred rand for a taxi back to Cofimvaba since you are going to leave me by myself here at this airport”.

“Kwedini, don’t worry, as Mr. Dabula told you I am friends with your grandmother and father and I would lead you astray. Trust me, walk through the main entrance and there will be someone to help you to get to London to meet your father and sister”.

Hesitantly Sandile stepped out of the vehicle, and walked to the back of the land cruiser to get his bags from Mr. Andreas.

“I guess this is it then young man. God willing I will meet you when you are a man in a couple of years. God bless your travels and be safe”.

Before Sandile could respond, Mr. Andreas walked to the front of the car quickly got into the drivers seat and sped off. Sandile was still a bit apprehensive and thought maybe if he caught a taxi his grandmother would be able to pay the driver when he got to Cofimvaba. He contemplated his next move until he got enough strength to walk through the main entrance of the airport. On the other side of the entrance was a majestic site, a person he thought he would not see for years to come. His grandmother Rhundu stretched out her arms and Sandile ran and hugged her as if it was the first time they had met.

“My brave little boy. I am sorry you had to experience what you had to go through today but it is not safe for you in the country at the moment and you must go. We don’t have much time”.

She handed him his boarding tickets for East London flight to Johannesburg and the Johannesburg to London flight.

“Just follow the instructions on your tickets Sandile and you will arrive in London tomorrow to your father and your sister. You are a smart boy Sandile and I know you will be fine”.

She hurriedly explained to Sandile how to read the tickets for his trip and they rushed off to the boarding gate. When they got to the boarding gate Sandile held on to his grandmother’s hand and would not let go.

“Nkwenkwe please don’t make a scene hear or you will attract the wrong kind of attention”.

“But Rhundu, I want to take Anelisa with me to America, please send for her when I am gone”.

“Nkwenkwe you know that will not be possible and I have already asked Mr. Dabula to explain to you why not. You can come back for her when you are a man. Please my child we must say our goodbyes now, we don’t have much time”.

Sandile knew he had to be strong for his grandmother one last time. He could not bear leaving her alone since he had grown up with her since his parents worked so far away from Cofimvaba.

“Rhundu, are you going to be ok without me. Who will fetch he cows from pasture for you, and who will round up your chickens at night into the hen house”.

“Nkwenkwe do not worry about me, God and the ancestors will take care of me, but now you must go to meet your sister and father. When I see you next time you will be a man and I cannot wait for that time to come. Please my child, go now for we are out of time”.

Sandile gave his grandmother one last hug and slowly walked with apprehension to the boarding gate. He was leaving the Transkei as a boy but he vowed himself that he would one day come back to his village of Cofimvaba as a man. He could not get Anelisa’s image out of his mind and felt as if he was betraying her by leaving her behind but he knew it was no longer safe for him in the Transkei. He cursed the fact that he was a boy and had limited options in how he could respond to his current situation. But he made a deal with himself on that day that he would return to Cofimvaba when he was a man for Anelisa and Rhundu.

Sandile’s check in at East London Airport was uneventful. As he approached the x ray machine to check in his bags he was asked for his boarding pass to Johannesburg by a tall stalky man whom he could not identify as white or black, but something in between. He looked at him for a while and then made the realization that he was colored, a term that was used to describe people whom were a mixture between black and white. The man asked him to step through the a rectangular structure which he said would pick up any steel items that Sandile could have on his person. As he stepped through the man followed him to the other side and stopped him.

“Young man it says here your final destination is London. Can you tell me what the purpose of your trip is there”?

Sandile knew his cover story well as he had practiced it for the last three hours whilst driving to the airport. Mr. Dabula had told him to be specific about the destination as he could and even if the place he was going to did not exist the boarder control would have no way of knowing he was not telling the truth.

“Yes sir I am on my way to boarding school in the quant region of Plymouth in the United Kingdom. It is about three hours by train from London. When I arrive in London I will take the train to my boarding school there”.

“An whom will pick you up at the airport when you arrive in London”?

Sandile did not hesitate, as he knew any hesitation would lead to further questions and as his grandmother had said might lead to unwanted attention. Rhundu was seating on a bench not far from the check in counter observing the whole situation. She said the Lords Prayer over and over again praying that Sandile would not ne referred for further questioning.

“I will be travelling with my headmaster Mr. Billard. Please here is his phone number you may call him if you would like”.

Sandile handed the man a UK phone number, which had the number of the hotel his father in the UK. His father would confirm that he would be travelling with Mr. Billard to Plymouth boarding school should the security police need to do further checks. The man quickly scanned the phone number and gave it back to Sandile.

“I am sure a boy such as yourself does not have an aptitude for subterfuge. I take it you know how to get to your boarding gate”?

“Yes sir it says boarding gate number 2, I will find it just fine”.

Sandile turned around to see if his grandmother was still observing him from the bench and he could not catch site of her. He panicked a bit thinking the security police had picked her up and his heart began to race until he saw her walking out of the front entrance. She looked back at him one more time and he could see that she was crying whilst walking away with a heavy heart. He had to be strong now as the security police in Johannesburg might be a bit more thorough. He felt a tap on his back as he proceeded to his gate and it was the colored security police. He had something in his hand, which Sandile could not identify and he thought his cover story was blown and he was going to be arrested.

“Young man, please give me your passport”.

Sandile avoided going into a state of panic by thinking about Anelisa and his loving grandmother. He imagined their soothing voices he was calmed by them.

“Yes Sir is there a problem, I told you where my final destination was”.

“Nkwenkwe, unless you would like to go through another security check in Johannesburg I suggest you give me your passport”.

Sandile put his bag down on the floor and opened the rear zipper and pulled out his passport from a small compartment in his carry on bag. The man took the passport and opened it to its last page and stamped it with the object in his hand.

“There you are now cleared to fly to London without any further security checks”.

Sandile held his breath until the man walked away not knowing how else to hide his fear. When the man was at a safe distance he took a deep breath and continued walking to gate 2 which would take him to Johannesburg. He now had to make sure that between East London and Johannesburg he would not do anything that would cause any suspicion. His grandmother had told him that he should not sit next to any black people at the boarding gate and he should either sit by himself or next to a while person which would signal to the security police roving the airport that he was travelling alone. He took a seat next to an old grey haired white woman whom seemed to be lonely. He avoided eye contact with her as not be drawn into any conversation where he would have to explain himself. He tried to be as calm as possible but she could see that he had an air of angst about him and she decided to have a conversation with him.

“Nkwenkwe, so tell me, what is a young man doing travelling on his own”?

Sandile retorted back with a bit of annoyance.

“Hello Mam, how are you”?

“Oh excuse me young man, I should have greeted first, my name is Zelda how are you”?


He reached out his hand and shook hers and hoped that would be the end of the conversation. He did not have the patience to explain himself again to someone else after the security police.

“Your English is very good”.

How could he tell his English was good, as he had only spoke one sentence to her. She must be after something he thought. Here he was using her for cover and she wanted to have a long drawn out conversation about nothing. He thought about moving away to another seat but knew that would raise suspicion and he did not want to anger her either.

“It’s the queens English Mam”.

He did not want to give too much away in case he made a mistake with his cover story. But he wanted to be as respectful as possible to not rouse any suspicion. It seemed the old lady got the hint and did not ask Sandile any further questions, or that she got all the answers she needed from his reply. They sat there in silence until the colored security officer came over to the old woman and whispered something in her ear. She turned to him and nodded her head and the security officer walked away.

“He was just confirming with me that you are going where you are going. I live in East London but I spend my workdays in this airport seeing if people are who they say they are and are going where they are meant to be going. People don’t really pay too much attention to an old woman sitting by herself at an airport and usually will tell me what I need to hear for my job”.

Sandile had to keep up the facade as best as he can. He thought about the British shows that he watched and thought how would one of those characters in the show respond.

“Sounds charming mam. Noted”!

“You’re a bit rude boy, but I like it. So the name is Sandile you say”?

“Yes mam its Sandile”.

She gave him a warm motherly smile patted him on the shoulder got up and walked away. Sandile thought about what Mr. Dabula said that we lived in difficult times. It was starting to dawn upon him just how strange things were in South Africa for black people. His grandmother had shielded him, along with his village of Cofimvaba from what apartheid was really like for black people. Now within the last four hours he had experienced the apartheid regime first hand and it left a sour taste. He wanted to get out of South Africa as soon as possible and be with his family. He was no longer in his village and he felt unsafe. The loud speaker announced his flight. He quickly picked up his bag and walked quickly to the check in counter so that he could be first in line. It was childish exuberance to get on to the plane but he did not mind, after all he was child and should take pleasure in the things children took pleasure in. He was growing up too quickly and he felt the onset of an old soul upon himself with his experiences both in the village and in the last four hours. A middle aged black man made it to the check in counter before he did and gave him a penetrating look for him to slow down.

“Slow down nkwenkwe, there is no rush. The plane will leave only once everyone is on the plane and will not leave anyone behind who has gone through the security checks”.

The man rubbed Sandile’s head and Sandile felt a calm washing over him. He felt he could trust this man. When the man took his hands off Sandile’s head he slowly slid them down to his jacket pocket and put a note in his left pocket.

“Don’t look at it now but when you get to London. That is the address you will find your father Aggrey when you get to London”.

Sandile’s head was spinning. He could not understand how both the security police and the liberation organizations in South Africa had become so efficient and how they could recognize one another. He had never met the man in front of him before and did not know how the man recognized him.

“I was a teacher with your father in the early seventies at the university of the Transkei and you look just like him. I will be your travel companion to Johannesburg to make sure you leave the country safely”.

Sandile waited until he got on the plane to open the envelope that the man had given him. In the envelope there was a currency that Sandile had not seen before with the image of an old woman on it. It was two hundred British pounds and a note with an address of a hotel. The man whom had given him the envelope sat two seats away from him for the trip from East London to Johannesburg with his eyes set upon him at all times. Sandile felt the safety of his village during the flight. When Sandile disembarked the plane the man followed him to his next check in point from Johannesburg to London. On the way Sandile stopped by a small food store to buy a chicken pie. He had not eaten since the morning when he left his school with Mr. Andreas. The man whom was following kept a safe distance while he bought his chicken pie.

“Nkwenkwe, what would you like”?

“One chicken pie please, and one appletizer”.

The woman behind the counter looked at him for a moment and then looked around to see if they were being watched.

“Nkwenkwe, you will be on your own for the rest of your trip to London so you must be a man and take care of yourself. The security police looking for your father are everywhere including London airport. When you get to London airport tell the arrivals check in points there that you will be going to meet your father at the hotel in your note. There will be signs at the airport on how to get a taxi. Give the address on the note to the taxi driver. You have more than enough money to pay a taxi on your arrival”.

The woman reached into a small warmer above the cash register and pulled out a warm chicken pie and gave it to Sandile. She then told Sandile to wait whilst she got the appletizer from the fridge in the back. While Sandile waited the man whom was following came up from behind him.

“Don’t turn around. Just tell your father when you meet him that his friend Zola sends his greetings. Don’t worry about paying for your food and drink as my wife will not charge you for it since she knows whom you are”.

Sandile was experiencing his mothers and fathers work for the first time and he had a new found respect for what they did for a living and a greater appreciation of their sacrifice. He now understood why they seldom came home.

“Nkwenkwe here is your appletizer and pie, have a safe trip”.

“Thank you mam, and may God’s blessings be upon you”.

When Sandile turned around Zola was nowhere to be found. He walked to the check in counter presented his passport and boarding ticket. The security officer flipped the pages to the last one and saw the security stamp. He received another stamp on his passport and the security officer gave him back his passport without saying a word. He simply signaled him to walk through the same rectangular security structure he had walked through in East London and took his bag through the x ray machine.

“All clear boy, proceed to your boarding gate on your ticket”!

Sandile would not make the mistake of sitting next to another white person again as they could be security police. He slowly walked through the departures lounge looking for his gate number 27. When he saw it he continued past it looking for a solitary seat that had no one sitting next to it. He continued walking to the end of the departure lounge and when he identified as seat for himself he walked back to it again. He looked around before taking a seat to see if anyone was looking at him and he saw no signs of danger and took a seat. His flight was departing at 10pm and he had a two-hour wait in the lounge. He thought about how difficult life had ben for his parents and his grandmother. At the same time he thought about all the white people like Mr. Andreas whom were accomplices in the liberation movement in South Africa and how complicated things were in South Africa. At that moment he yearned for freedom from South Africa. He yearned for that feeling of homeliness and safety that he felt in his village and hoped that he would find it in America. No one came to speak to him while he waited for his flight and he did not see any suspicions eyes glaring at him which could be security police. He decided to take a nap while he waited. An hour later he was awoken by the loud speakers announcing his flight.

“BA Flight xj6069 to London now boarding”.

As Zola had told him he took his time walking to the check in counter not to rouse any suspicion. These would be his last steps in his native soil of South Africa for some time to come. He counted each step he made and with each step he thought about Anelisa and Rhundu and their love for him. When he came back he knew that he would come back not as a boy (nkwenkwe) but as a man.

Sandile boarded the flight to London without complication. When he got on the plane he packed his carry on bag in the compartment above his seat. He was so exhausted from the events of the day that when he took his seat and put on his seat belt he passed out for the duration of the ten hour flight. The plane stewardess awaked him for breakfast the next morning. He felt a light tap on his shoulder.

“Excuse me young man, I did not want to wake you last night but we will be landing in three hours and we are now serving breakfast. Would you like anything to eat”?

Sandile was captivated by the stewardess’s accent and it took him a minute to gather his thoughts and respond to her.

“Yes mam I would like something to eat please”.

“Mam? How charming”?

She pulled out a tray with food from her cart and put it on Sandile’s food trey. Sandile could not tell if she was taking a liking to him or if she was just doing her job.

“Are you alright young man, you look a bit stressed”.

There was an awkward silence as Sandile thought what he should or should not say in front of the white middle-aged female passenger next to him.

“I miss my grandmother in the Transkei and also my friend Anelisa that all”.

“Oh, that’s so sweet. I am sure you will see them again soon. Now please have something to eat because you missed your dinner last night. I did not want to wake you because you looked so peaceful”.

“Thank you mam, it is much appreciated”.

“You are so sweet, I just want to gobble you up”.

She squeezed Sandile’s cheeks and kissed him on the forehead and moved on to the passengers behind him. The middle-aged woman sitting next to him smirked in his direction.

“So you are quiet the charmer. But just know that at home cross-cultural or interracial relationships are against the law”.

Sandile was not quiet sure what law he had broken by receiving a kiss on the cheek but he decided not to pursue the matter any further. After all she could be a security agent from South Africa. He stayed silent and did not respond to the woman next to him aside from letting out an uncomfortable smile. It was a power game she was playing and he did not feel like being a part of it.

“What’s wrong boy, don’t want to talk to me”?

“No its not that…. Its just…. My…English… is not that good, and I would rather stay silent that’s all, unless you would like to speak Xhosa”.

The woman next to him got the hint that she had offended him with her comments and did not try to make contact with him for the duration of their flight. When the flight landed the woman sitting next to him tried to show Sandile that she was sorry for offending him and unloaded his carry bag from the overhead compartment.

“There you go young man. No hard feelings I am sure you understand that I was just pointing out to you how things are at home”.

“No offence taken mam”.

Sandile grabbed his bag from her and walked to the entrance of the plane without saying goodbye to the woman. Good riddance he thought, he could not stand oppression of any kind weather it came with a smiling face or not. He could tell the laws of the new country were different because the woman next to him was insistent of reminding how things were at home. She must have been insecure about how things were in England. He came across the air stewardess who had served him his breakfast at the airplane entrance.

“Do you know where you are going young man”?

Without hesitation he answered her.

“Yes mam, my principal Mr. Billard is waiting for me at the arrivals area. He will travel with me to school in Plymouth”.

“Ok then I suppose that this is goodbye”.

She reached out to hug him and Sandile responded back by wrapping his arms around her waste and held on for a while. Her kindness reminded him of Rhundu and Anelisa.

“Thank you for breakfast mam and God’s blessings be upon you”.

“And you too young man, safe travels”.

Sandile made his way to the check out counter where he had to present his passport yet again. The line moved quickly and he arrived at the check out counter to enter the UK. He presented his passport and the man at the checkout counter asked him where he would be staying in the UK. He took out the piece of paper that Zola had given him and gave it to the man at the counter. The man behind the counter glanced at it for a moment and then asked him how long he would be staying. Sandile told him he was on his way to America as per the visa stamp on his passport and he would leave the following morning with his father whom he was to meet a the hotel on the piece of paper. He did not seem to mind telling the boarder patrol the truth about his trip since he no longer felt in danger in this new place. The boarder patrol stamped his passport and pointed him in the direction of the arrivals area. As he walked through the airport he took in the sights and also noticed the demographic of people was not the same as home. There were a lot more white people that he imagined would be and seldom saw a black person. He followed the signs until he got to the arrivals area and then he started looking around for the signs for the taxi area where he would catch a cab to his father and sister’s hotel. He looked around for the signs for taxis but only noticed that there were signs leading to the train station at the airport and became somewhat confused. Had he been mislead by Zola and his wife? He thought certainly the security police would find him half way around the world and use him to get to his father. He became panic-stricken and could not move. A white man with blonde hair and blue eyes approached him and stuck out his hand to greet Sandile. Sandile became fearful and took a step back in preparation for aggression from the man. The man sensing Sandile’s apprehension reached in his pocket and pulled out a picture. It was Sandile’s family picture that was taken a couple of months ago buy his parents.

“Hello my name is Per, you must be Sandile. Our contact in Cofimvaba Village School Mr. Dabula said you would be arriving now. My taxi is waiting outside to take you to your hotel. I suppose Zola gave you some taxi money when you departed from East London to pay for your fare. I know your father from the Swedish embassy and he will meet you after his meetings at the embassy at your hotel later on with your sister”.

Per took out his wallet and showed Sandile his ID. The ID was that of the Swedish Police. Sandile had moved from being panicked to confused.

“ I am sure that things must be a bit confusing for you, but a number of your fathers associates in the trade unions movement in South Africa have been arrested with the assistance of American intelligence and you will no longer be going to America. Plans have changed and you are going to Stockholm Sweden tomorrow with your father and sister where you will meet your mother there. If you follow me to the payphone we can call your father and he will confirm this for you”.

Sandile had no reason he could come up with not to follow Per to the payphone. He walked slowly behind him, giving himself a bit of room in case he would have to run away. Per picked up the phone and dialed a number and gave the phone to Sandile.

“Hello Sandile it’s me Tata. Please go with Per to the hotel I will meet you there when I am finished my meetings at the Swedish Embassy”.

That was all of the confirmation that Sandile needed and he politely smiled at Per and took his hand for him to lead the way. As they walked to the Taxi Per told Sandile about how Swedish trade unions had been supporting his father’s work through the trade unions in South Africa for some years now. Per worked closely with the Swedish embassy in London. Six month ago they were made aware that his mother Phumla was going to travel to the US, but her travels were compromised. The embassy intercepted her in London and rerouted her travels to Stockholm, where she had been living and studying finance and strategy for the last five months at Stockholm University. He told Sandile how the American government had put his mother Phumla and father Aggrey on the terrorist watch list and when they arrived in the US they were going to be deported back to South Africa and be charged with crimes against the state. Sandile tried to pay as much attention to Per as he could but he would miss a word here and there since Per’s accent sounded like fish singing underwater. He however understood the gist of Per’s explanation and it was enough for him to trust him enough to get into the taxi with him to bring him to his fathers hotel. He gave Per the two hundred pounds that he had received from Zola and Per took it and gave him back one hundred and eighty pounds.

“This is the first lesson for you Sandile. Never do anything or take anything for free. Everything has a cost to it, remember that young man and you will be safe”.

Sandile was growing rather apprehensive of Per. If it was his job to pick him up for the embassy why was it necessary that he should take twenty pounds from him. He understood the idea of paying his own portion but it was Per’s job to take him to his father.

“How far is it to my fathers hotel”?

“Not far now, another twenty minutes and we will be there”.

Per noticed the tone of concern with Sandile and he wanted to address it in a constructive manner whilst teaching him about a little bit about Swedish culture.

“Sandile, I know you are young but you should always seek to take care of yourself. You are a young man and will be a man in a couple of years. After all in Swedish culture we are all equal and your age does not matter according to the law of Junte”.

“Law of Junte? I don’t understand. What does that have to do with the twenty pounds you took for me for the fare”?

Per started laughing out loud.

“Sandile, you are in my cab right”?

“Yes Sir”.

“Well a cab needs gas and you are paying for your share of the gas”.

“Ok, but what is the law of Junte, I don’t understand”.

Per took a deep breath and tried to come up with the correct words to describe the law of Junte to Sandile.

“The term janteloven can be traced back to Aksel Sandemose, a Danish-turned-Norwegian author, whose works of fiction included references to these “laws” in the context of small-town Denmark. Janteloven (the law of Jante) at its simplest describes the way that all Scandinavians should behave: putting society ahead of the individual, not boasting about individual accomplishments or being jealous of others. In short we are in this cab together and you should pay your fare share of the transport.”!

Sandile’s confussion was getting the better of him as he tried to remember his geography lessons from school.

“But sir I thought we were going to Sweden tomorrow and not Norway or Denmark where the laws of Junteloven are from”.

“I know it can be a bit confusing but the Scandinavian nations Denmark, Norway and Sweden are pretty similar in terms of culture and over the years the law has been used interchangeably in all the countries alike”.

“I think I understand sir, we are both equal, kind of like egalitarianism”.

Sandile’s mother had used the word egalitarian in a sentence once when she was speaking to his father with regards to how she expected to be treated in their relationship. He had always wanted to use it in a sentence.

“Clever young man you are Sandile! Yes you are sort of right but there are also some nuances about Janteloven that you should understand which will assist you to understand the young children in your age group when you make friends in your new school in Sweden. These are ten rules of Junte and these are; You're not to think you are anything special, You're not to think you are as good as we are, You're not to think you are smarter than we are, You're not to convince yourself that you are better than we are, You're not to think you know more than we do, You're not to think you are more important than we are, You're not to think you are good at anything, You're not to laugh at us, You're not to think anyone cares about you, You're not to think you can teach us anything. Although these rules should not be literally applied they are general precepts in how people relate to one another in Sweden”.

These social rules sounded somewhat strange to Sandile but he made an attempt to memorize them as they were being recited by Per.

“So in short sir I must not stand out and must try and be the same as other children and be humble”.

Per was amazed at how quickly Sandile understood new concepts did not regret that he had followed his intuition and addressed him as an equal.

“Sandile, I think if the times we lived in were different and you were a bit older we would have been great friends. But I understand where you get your intellect, as your father has been a challenge for me to get to know as well since he is so intellectually robust”.

Sandile thought perhaps he should say thank you to Per for the compliment, but on the other hand he might be breaking one of the laws of junte and so he decided to stay humble and not make the conversation about himself but at the same time show Per that he understood the laws.

“Yes sir I concur. Often however people misinterpret my father’s hard work for sharp intellect. I doubt however it is the latter as all human beings are blessed with the same intellect and its just a matter of how we apply it in our lives”.

They had arrived at the Park Plazza Sherlock Holmes Hotel on baker street.

“Well here we are young man it was nice to have met you. Your father has told the hotel reception that you will be arriving and they will show you to your room”.

“Thanks for the education on the law of Junte sir, I will keep it in mind when I am in your country”!

Per got out of the drivers seat walked around the front of the car to the passenger door and opened the door for Sandile. Sandile was a bit confused since he thought they were both equal and he should have opened the door himself. He had a perplexed look on his face, which made Per smile because he knew that Sandile was not beginning to deal with paradoxes of Junte Law.

“There is nothing wrong with having manners young man even with Junte law in mind. Sometimes Sandile, and I am not saying you are doing it, people use their intellect to not appreciate other people’s gestures of respect and its important you guard against that”.

“Yes sir I understand, and thank you for the ride to my hotel. God’s blessings be upon you”.

“And you too young man”.

Sandile slowly made his way into the hotel whilst watching Per drive away in his taxi. He took a moment to take in the cites of the tall buildings and paved roads everywhere. It was a stark difference from his village of Cofimvaba, which had one paved road with adjoining dirt roads all around. The roads were very busy with brands of cars that he had never seen before. The people on the streets walked with a sense of purpose as if they were in a rush somewhere. It was as if everyone was being marshaled from pillar to post by some invincible force. This was in contrast to his village where people seemed to loiter about the public areas in town without a care in the world. He thought about the man whom would play dice and gamble in front of his grandmothers store the whole day without a care in the world. The buildings were also rather high with numerous levels and he could remember from a TV show that he had once seen that they were called skyscrapers. He thought a day in London speaking to the local people would certainly give him a chance to improve his English and perhaps even a chance to pick up the local accent.

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6 Dec, 2017
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