Johannesburg - I wrote this under the light of two candles on my desk until the sun rose. It had been three days and three nights of a power outage. In the past six months there have been other three- to four-day outages of both water and electricity.
Everyone can argue that their block in the City of Johannesburg is the worst, but we can all agree that the city is broken.
While technology keeps improving, structures keep crumbling to dust and ashes from the fires its buildings catch.
Now the city is eating at itself like a serpent on its tail. And when its township people go back to their squalor, it spews them out more vile than when they came.
When they came in at 8am, they had been in a taxi to work for three hours. And two hours before that, they burned fires to boil water to bath and make porridge. In their hand a fire is both gentle and aggressive.
When the day ends and they are spewed out of the city, guided down the slope in the direction of the shantiest of towns, the journey back home seems shorter. But they always arrive after dark, last seeing their children in the dark.
It is the streets who are raising our children, we never see them in the sun, steadily dissecting the dichotomy of our lineage.
We are silently breeding nocturnal creatures whose souls will in time be ripe for the picking by the allure of the broken city. The web of things it shatters when it crumbles is far too delicate, the Good Lord alone knows how we rise before the sun every morning with an attitude of self-resentment cloaked as anticipation. We are addicted to survival, we invariably cling to our soul-sucking cities. History tells us we have abandoned our families in search of gold in this city, now Johannesburg is abandoning us.
The CBD is a disease-ridden addict, the people are its disease and its drug of choice is souls from foreign lands, townships and squatter camps where the air is dense and clogged with a scent of despair. The web of things to blame for the decaying infrastructure, dilapidated buildings and sinking townships is far too interconnected and extending.
Another generation will refuse to accept that the town is finished. Zama-zamas have taken custody of the underground, they have taken the production of gold into their own hands. Syndicates have hijacked buildings, recklessly driving the city to the shores of this wasteland, where there is no water or electricity for days, sometimes months or longer. No longer is a dystopia in the future, it is now. The scramble for power relies on a promise to clean the grime. But the grime has repopulated and become self-aware. It has seen that it is both the disease and the drug. And so we thrive in the dark, where the air is dense and clogged with a scent of despair.