O, Pretoria!

These days I work, not in downtown Toronto, but in Pretoria, Gauteng – administrative capital of South Africa, a small city with Boer Republic roots and an African feel, a place of substantial Anglo-Dutch architecture from the nineteenth century commingled with brutalist Afrikaner buildings from the 1970s, and the litter, taxi mayhem and crumbling sidewalks of Maputo or (who knows, since I haven’t been there) Nairobi.

I go there, most days, by Gautrain, the gleaming Bombardier-built high-speed commuter train that links Johannesburg with Pretoria and the O.R. Tambo International Airport. Most days, since I try to travel outside of rush hour, the train is half empty; sometimes, however, especially late afternoon, it is crammed with office workers, students, travellers and of course the ubiquitous (in South Africa) security guards.

The whole experience is strange and familiar, simultaneously – first world and third world shaken and stirred in some Afro-European cocktail, with all kinds of ingredients – edgy, clamorous, a clash of poverty and wealth, modernity and marginalisation, that makes you want to look away, and look back again.

I’ve decided to do some looking, so here is a photograph, snapped (that is the word) on my iPhone, on the train one morning to bustling Pretoria. More will follow, mostly likely from the Leica.

Gautrain # 1

One response to “O, Pretoria!”

  1. The expected images, as seen through your eyes and camera lens, will pale compared to having seen Pretoria and Jo’burg with our own. For that, you have our eternal gratitude.


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