In 1975 Africa was still a relatively untraveled and untouched continent. A “nanny aunt” had a son living in Rhodesia since 1953 and he wrote his mother regularly. From her I received the used postage stamps, with on them images like that of the Victoria Falls. That seemed very exciting to me as a child! When I, together with two study colleagues, Hans and Remo, got the opportunity to stay and work in Johannesburg as a student assistant for over six months, I didn’t had to think for long.
Our primary goal was to get the best possible work experience in the context of our study (electrical engineering). And, at the same time, to see as much as possible of Africa. In 1975 everyone who stayed in South Africa became confronted with its domestic politics of apartheid. And if you went through the neighboring countries, also with the process of decolonization . With Ian Smith’s Rhodesia. And with the dangers along the way that where inherent to traveling through the neighboring countries of South Africa. But that’s why we had an incredibly interesting time.
The plans to travel through South Africa and especially through the neighboring countries, emerged fairly quickly after our arrival. During the coffee break all employees of “our” laboratory met in the coffee room and it was custom that many safari stories were exchanged. When one of our colleagues offered a Land-Rover 109 in good condition for sale, the decision was quickly taken. Thanks to the help and travel advice from some colleagues, we could make a flying start. We divided the tasks between the three of us and started to equip the car and to prepare the trip. Three months after we arrived in Johannesburg, we started our 7000 km long trip through Africa. You can find our route here.
For us the journey meant a “quantum leap”. We gained an unique travel experience. And above all, we could make up our own mind about countries that we normaly only new from the TV and the news agencies. And we felt that we have had a last look at unspoilt Africa. In particular, to travel freely through Botswana was a highlight in that regard.
We have not only traveled around, but also lived and worked in Johannesburg for 7 months . That is why I have also made a short series of Johannesburg and its surroundings.
The used slide film is not kodachrome, but Agfa CT18. A rather grainy film. On the one hand, that is clearly visible in the scans. On the other hand, it also has the charm of old analogue material.