Jo’burg – You can keep it.

October 8th, 1975 – this is when i was born, in a hospital in Johannesburg somewhere – my mother will be able to give you the finer details of this fateful event – but after spending almost 25 years away from this place and then having to spend a few weeks here, has given me perspective on where I live.

I spent exactly 18 and a half years (to the day) in Johannesburg, finishing both my primary and high school years in the province north of the Orange river. Yes we used to go down to Cape Town on holiday, two to three weeks filled with sun, wind, sea and laughter. And although the end of those holidays were filled with sadness at having to end the fun with the thought that school was just over the horizon, the thought never occurred to me that “ag no, we have to go back to Johannesburg”.

I was recently offered a new dimension in my current job, which i have grabbed with both my hands, but that has meant that I have had to spend quite a bit of time back in my old place of birth and one thing I can tell you – you can keep it!

I recently posted that you can keep hotels – just stick me in a tent next to a river and i am a happy soul – and I stick by that mantra. Whenever i looked out of my hotel bedroom window, it was depressing. Run-down roads and pavements, everyone rushing to nowhere and, to me, there was no sense of wanting to go anywhere. So i sat in my room, watching some of the World Cup footy that was on offer, or catching up on my Vikings series or flicking through Netflix.

Driving to and from the office – a mere five minute commute – never gave me any sense of “wow I want to come live here”. Yes I know out in the sticks is a different sense of being – I love the bushveld – but Johannesburg itself is a depressing hell-hole.

When I first moved to Cape Town 24 and a half years ago and people used to belittle the place of gold where i came from, I used to stand up and fight back. You could never say anything bad about the place without ruffling my feathers.

But boy have things changed. I could not see myself living back here – not for any amount of money (career-limiting choice? Probably).

Before coming back here for the week, I had a discussion with a friend of mine about this self, same topic. And he said to me that surely my outlook would change if i was offered R100k per month. Firstly, no one in their right mind would offer me that kind of money but more importantly, I said no.

To me, Cape Town is a way of life. Things are not perfect, as they are not perfect in many cities across the world, but in Cape Town, you can be 40 minutes from the beach or 40 minutes from the mountains. Things are run better, despite the current water crisis being experienced.

Yes Cape Town has had a major increase in violent crime – but what city does not experience these types of waves.

To me, life is about quality, not money in the bank. Yes, having a bank balance that allows you to do things that the ordinary man in the street only dreams of is nice, but I would rather sacrifice that and be able to spend quality time with my family and friends. A nice day at the beach or a drive to the wine farm, or even a nice picnic under the trees next to a remote river spot somewhere. That to me is more important.

Sitting at OR Tambo International Airport, looking forward to the 21h15 flight back home, fills me with excitement. Not just because I am heading back to the Cape – but back home to where my wife and two beautiful girls are.

Johannesburg – you guys can keep it!

Author: Brendon

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