When I woke up today, I found myself reflecting on the works of Niq Mhlongo, one of the most high-spirited and irreverent new voices of South Africa’s post-apartheid literary scene.
I decided to reread Mhlongo’s short story collection “Soweto, Under the Apricot Tree”.
In this collection, the author describes his hometown as a place that always seems to hold surprises for both the characters and the reader.
When I reached page 10 of the book, a thought crossed my mind that I should visit Soweto, South Africa’s biggest township. It is so big, it’s practically a city in its own right.
Egged on by possibilities mentioned in the story, I decided to drive to Maponya Mall to see what, if any, surprises I could experience.
When I arrived this morning, the parking lot at the mall was buzzing with people – you wouldn’t know it was the last day of the national COVID-19 lockdown level 3. From Monday midnight booze and cigarettes will be on sale.
An easy-going young man greeted me saying “Kawa (my friend), do you know from tomorrow it’s New Year’s Day in Mzansi”.
He said his name was Maiza.
“So How so, Maiza?” I asked.
“Ah you know the generation of Mandela are slow thinkers,” he quipped.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa has opened up alcohol. For us, car guards asking for cold drink money and protecting your cars is gonna be New Years’ Day … drunkards will be giving us money in their drunken stupor”.
Not knowing what to think, I gave him R30 to guard my car.
Apart from the people moving around, I didn’t see any surprises. Without leaving my car I decided to do an MTN LTE speed test.
Maiza would later prove to be my first surprise – someone with no interest in the MTN LTE speed.
With a population of over 2 million, the township is the biggest black urban settlement in Africa with a rich political history. There must be many people using their cellphones to stream, surf the net or download stuff.
The houses in Soweto range from extravagant mansions to makeshift shacks. Soweto is a city of rich and poor as well as enterprise and cultural interaction.
In the car, I had my iPhone 8, old iPhone 5S, and my son’s Samsung Galaxy S8.
I quickly set up the Ookla App on all the phones.
I started with the iPhone 8 and the results were surprisingly awesome. MTN provides a Bozza network for its shoppers at Maponya Mall.
I could see Maiza was staring at me curiously because I remained seated in my car after I had tipped him handsomely.
I tried to interest him in the impressive MTN LTE speed result on my iPhone.
Maiza was not impressed. He mouthed off a few expletives before walking away.
The download speed recorded by Ooka stood at an amazing 70.3Mbps. The upload speed was 34.3Mbps.
I didn’t believe my eyes, I did the test again and got a further surprise as the download speed increased to 97.9Mbps and upload speed was at 52.8Mbps.
I then took off to Bara Taxi Rank to see what download and upload speed commuters are getting from MTN’s LTE.
I was using the iPhone 5S to conduct the speed test and got a download speed of 20.4Mbps.
Thereafter, I drove to Orlando West at Vilakazi Street, where Nelson Mandela spent the first couple of nights upon his release after 27 years of imprisonment, with his then-wife, Winnie Mandela.
Number 8115 Orlando West was the same house that Mandela in lived between 1946 and 1962.
I used the Samsung Galaxy S8 to conduct the speed test and got 19.9Mbps download speed and 15.4Mbps upload speed.
Using my iPhone 8, I opened Spotify and happily streamed Gigi LaMayne’s song “Bozza ft Kwesta”.
I decided to sing along and as always singing off-key: “Bozza la ma Bozza Yeah …”