28 July 2006

Solution, but to a different problem

I bought few different things today including a new kind of pasta sauce (was so so at best), a second hand book about different African contemporary music styles (well contemporary yes, but book was written 1985) and some Finnish licorice that they sell in a shop nearby. Oh and of course the flight tickets to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania for the next Tuesday.

I am quite exited about going as for some reason Tanzania has always been a country I have wanted to visit but I have always gone somewhere else. Now I am getting ready to fix that. It is only for two weeks but I do not even worry about that.

When I got my tickets I noticed something rather disturbing though which actually raises a very interesting question. My departure is from the Cape Town airport which I always thought was just called Cape Town International Airport but the itinerary says D F Malan Airport instead. If that is not enough my layover is at Jan Smuts Airport (Johannesburg), which I thought was already called Oliver Tambo International Airport. If you have not got an idea what I am talking about then let me explain that Malan was the first prime minister from the National Party (NP) at 1948 when apartheid was established. Before that, the system was hardly equal and dominated by the people of British origin but after -48 elections under the blessing of Dr. Malan things started to get worse from the already bad. Jan Smuts was the prime minister a bit earlier and although more moderate in the big picture still not exactly a best mate material.

Now the question that this raises, as I said it would do, is that how important it is to use money for changing the names of the places, streets, airports, schools, squares, cities and practically everything possible that are named after the people who were involved with the country’s bleak past when there is so many things were the money could be used in order to balance the system? How important is the pride of the change? To have a Malan Airport is like to have Göring Strasse in Berlin, or rather in Warsaw. I am not even attempting to answer this dilemma although seeing these names make me sick in my stomach but I also acknowledge that for instance changing the name of Pretoria into Tshwane took a lot of money and in this country ever second street name should be changed and then one must think is the housing more important than a street name? Is the name of the airport more important than to fix the education system which is still very much struggling with the legacy of apartheid and its ridiculously unjust way of teaching children different things depending of their background (and with the logic of the system, also their future). Surely the education is important but what if the school is on a Botha street, then is the message not a bit confusing?

As I said I have not got an answer to this one. If I did I would print a T-shirt about it, compose a song and declare myself the greatest philosopher of modern times.

Although the dilemma remains I must actually to check whether these are still the actual names of the airports because I have not heard them being used before. If the travel agency is running twelve years late with their database then I must write them a very angry letter, but for now I must assume that they were correct. As I said it is not only about the airports but all sorts of street names. It was just them that brought this thing in my mind.

Back to the starting point. It feels good to get back on the road tip like back in the days. Sometimes in life the plans change but one must never stay and lie in the crossfire. That may just be the only lesson that I have from my military service and even that I only use metaphorically (probably I would lie in an actual crossfire, but I hope I will never find out). Another thing I do not mind actually is to leave the winter weather of Cape Town for a while as it reminds me of the English winter with its rains although it is much warmer. It still is nothing very special. I am looking forward writing more experiences next week and hopefully get some photos up as well.

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