South Africa: The Rainbow Nation

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It had been almost three months since we started from my hometown of Adelmannsfelden in Germany, and we had traversed ten countries, when we finally entered the last country on our itinerary on the 30th of July, 2011.

It was my second visit to South Africa. In 2003, as a high school student, I took part in a study abroad program and spent four weeks at Hoërskool Wagpos in Brits. The day after entering South Africa, we went to see the school, and met a physics teacher whom I remembered dearly. We also visited Carla, one of my school friends in Brits. It was great seeing her again after such a long time, and meeting her family.

From Brits, we rode to Pretoria, one of South Africa’s three capital cities, which serves as the seat of the executive branch of government. We stayed with our friends Tonie and Leentjie, whom we got to know earlier on our journey. They had just completed a road trip by car through Africa. We first met them in Luxor, and then ran into them again, by chance, at Jungle Junction in Nairobi.

We visited the Union Buildings and saw the Voortrekker Monument while in Pretoria, and we got introduced to Sohel and other members of the South Africa Bangladesh Friendship Association during a visit to the Bangladesh High Commission. You might remember seeing them on Bangladesh television. They were planning to drive a car from South Africa to Bangladesh. A few months later, they realized their plan. Sohel and his friends showed us around, and arranged accommodation for us in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town – Bangladeshi hospitality at its finest!

We made a brief stop in Johannesburg to see our friends Chalta and Taariq. We had a great time catching up, before we went on to Kimberley, the capital of the Northern Cape Province. Kimberley is home to the 215-meter-deep Big Hole, a former diamond mine said to be the largest hole dug by hand in the world.

The non-stop 700-kilometer ride that followed next, from Kimberley to Port Elizabeth, was quite exhausting. But we were then rewarded with the beautiful views along the scenic coastal road from Port Elizabeth via Hartenbos to Cape Town. Somewhere along that route, the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet. Where exactly is the topic of heated arguments among South Africans.

On the 8th of August, we reached Cape Town, our final destination. Before returning to Germany, our motorbikes on a ship and us on a plane, we had a few days left to relax and explore the city. We rode the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, and we visited Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of the 27 years he served behind bars during apartheid.

After having crossed Africa in its entirety, my love for Africa and its people is deeper than ever. I hope you have enjoyed this travelogue, even though what I offered was only a glimpse of what is probably the most diverse and beautiful continent of all. If you have not already done so, and if you get a chance, please visit Africa. I trust that you too will fall in love. Bon voyage!

Part 1: From Germany to South Africa: The journey begins
Part 2: A millennium of Islamic scholarship, and a revolution yet to be completed
Part 3: Stories of a time long gone, and Egyptian khichuri
Part 4: An oasis of hospitality in the searing heat of the Nubian Desert
Part 5: The Simien Mountains, and the first hijra in Islam
Part 6: Stranded in the Kenyan desert, and a visit to the land of the Maasai
Part 7: “Welcome to Africa!”
Part 8: Victoria Falls, and free-roaming lions in Botswana
Part 9: South Africa: The Rainbow Nation
Summary: My Germany to South Africa Motorcycle Expedition 2011

This series of articles was published in The Weekend Independent (Bangladesh):
3, 10, 17 & 24 June, 1, 15, 22 & 29 July, and 5 August 2016.