A Change Is Gonna Come – What Pegman Saw

As the airport taxi sped along Settlers Way, I watched the fingers of smoke lingering over the townships to my left.  Rainbow-coloured washing flapped from makeshift lines slung between the tin and timber shacks, grazing the heads of toddlers playing in the dust.  Behind us, towards Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, the haze thickened to a sickly yellow smog, whilst ahead the jagged skyline of Cape Town CBD gleamed in the morning sun.

As we passed by Gugulethu, I recalled a Cape Argus headline, absorbed whilst browsing from the relative safety of my UK home.

One murder every two and a half days for five consecutive years.

At the Waterfront, I embraced Nkosozama, and we found a quiet corner for lunch.

“Things changed much?” I enquired.

“Only thing changed round here, girl, is the colour of those riding the gravy train. And there sure aren’t enough seats for all of us.”

This week’s google shot at What Pegman Saw comes from Cape Town.  Click on the link if you’ve got a 150 word story to share.

About Sandra

I used to cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and wrote fiction and poetry. Now I live on the beautiful Dorset coast, enjoying the luxury of being able to have a cat, cultivating an extensive garden and getting involved in the community. I still write fiction, but only when the spirit moves me - which isn't as often as before. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
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22 Responses to A Change Is Gonna Come – What Pegman Saw

  1. JS Brand says:

    Great story Sandra, with excellent research/local knowledge and a killer final line.


    • Sandra says:

      Thanks. We used to live in Johannesburg and visited Cape Town several times, both when we lived there and after we left in the nineties. It’s a shame that the promise of the change to come never actually materialised.


      • JS Brand says:

        Almost ditto. We lived in Durban for a while, but visited Cape Town. Before we went out I was aware of the horrific crime levels, but I naively expected there to be more substance behind the Rainbow Nation rhetoric than there actually was. The reality was very depressing. All the people I knew who could obtain British, Irish or Dutch passports are now in Europe.


        • Sandra says:

          The crime in Jo’burg was really something. I did voluntary work with SAPS for a while but I could see I was wasting my time – there was no real will to tackle it. It’s such a lovely country, but the constant vigilance was very wearing and I was relieved when my husband was transferred from there to Germany. I was watching a very resigned and lethargic Winnie Mandela on YouTube the other day, saying that even if Zuma were forced to stand down, it wouldn’t make any difference to the corruption. Such a shame.


          • JS Brand says:

            Indeed. I didn’t work with SAPS but had a lot of contact. There were pockets where station commanders and their teams were trying hard to make a difference, sometimes with a degree of community support, but there didn’t seem to be much help from above. That and the impact of interracial resentment meant that very little could have been achieved even with much lower levels of crime, let alone the overwhelming torrent that affects South Africa’s citizens day after day. I loved the country and many of the people I met were fantastic. Although I’d really like to go back on holiday, I never have. During our stay the only crime I suffered was having a laptop stolen from work. Late one night I was pursued by 4 men in an old Mercedes, which overtook me and tried to force me to stop, close to one of the less notorious townships. Fortunately my trusty Ford was faster and nimbler, so I got away. Having come away unscathed, we feel we’d be pushing our luck if we returned.


  2. Vivid and wrenching piece, Sandra. I especially like how the memory of reading the headline implies a deeper longing for the safety of home. Excellent work.


    • Sandra says:

      Oddly, I was reading about South Africa only yesterday. And thinking that much as we loved it, I’d be distinctively uneasy about returning, even for a short period


  3. k rawson says:

    I got such a sad chill reading this. Wise and richly rendered. So happy to see you on Pegman this week!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh! I love that last paragraph. Thanks for turning your experience in Cape Town into a well-written story.


  5. I enjoyed reading this piece, Sandra. To me it felt bleached with sadness. The last line sounded so resigned it mad my sadness complete. Thank you for posting for all of us.


  6. Sandra says:

    It was a pleasure, Kelvin, to take a trip down memory lane.


  7. Dear Sandra,

    Nice to see you off the Friday Fictioneers grid where we’re both riding the bus. 😉 Wonderful descriptions made me feel as though I was there. Well written.




  8. AshleyDannie says:

    Loved the imagery in the beginning! Beautifully written!!!


  9. HesterLeyNel says:

    When I saw this entry of yours, I was immediately fascinated: firstly, of course, because I still live in South Africa; secondly, because you were participating in an InLinks challenge. I then and there decided that I wanted to join the conversation and I just jumped in. I’ve never written flash fiction (for public consumption, that is) and I would really appreciate your input.


I'd love to hear your views; it reassures me I'm not talking to myself.

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