In South Africa taxi associations do not pay taxis and from what I understand, they’re not really in awe of the government. For instance, if the government tries to introduce a bus system; they kick up a storm – until the proposed system is shelved or scraped. Hence they hike up their prices at will.
It is, therefore, a strange and eye-opening experience when you are in a taxi and people find out that you are attending a conference, you are taking a plane. Suddenly they think you must be swimming in money and they hike the fare. Such was my experience when I had to get from Grahamstown to Port Elizabeth. Because I don’t drive I depend on public transport, and a taxi is cheapest. It also didn’t help that I was in a hurry and the driver understood that I depended on him only to get me there on time.
Isn’t it ironic that when there’s bound to be an unwelcome experience it’s closer to home and people who don’t know you are always more hospitable. We’ve got two sayings in isiXhosa, “Imbongi inconywa ezizweni” and “Umthi omhle ukhiwa ezizweni”. Translated these mean “A poet gets apreciated elsewhere” and “You have to travel to get value”.
I got on the plane and had a little tiff with a white gentleman over my luggage which was on his side of compatment. But before five minutes were over we were talking about experiences of flying. It turned out we’d been in a plane together (although at different sections of a plane) in 2003 when the plane experience turbulance.
When I disembacked I found that I needed not to fear because somebody from RLabs – who had organised my trip – was already there to take me to meet his team. That’s efficiency.
The place I stayed was in Pinetown and is owned by a lady from here in Africa but outside of this country. It is welcoming to note that a person we would call ‘ikwarakwara’ should be so friendly. It shows that it’s not where a person comes from that is the problem but attitude. That sentence is in light of the strange stories about the people from northern African states who come to South Africa & play all sorts of crooked tricks on locals.
The conference itself – an event organised by the LLiSA Network (Living Labs in Southern Africa) was a great success.