Justice Malala | Not yet time for "revenge travel"
Justice Malala | Not yet time for "revenge travel"
Image: unsplash.com

I am not going to lie. I like a holiday. I love the thrum of a massive Boeing as it lifts its nose up into the sky and heads off for faraway lands. Heck, I even love looking out of an airport window and seeing a big beast of an airplane waiting to take off. I get a thrill just looking at them. It makes me start dreaming and scheming and planning my next holiday.

In the “before days” I had a ritual. I don’t have much time for men’s magazines, but, without fail, whenever I went on holiday I would get a huge pile of them, pop into the airline lounge, have a flinty gin and tonic, and head for my seat. After settling in, I would open my first magazine, suffer pangs of envy at the expensive suits in the front section, and fantasise about the watches.

The captain would say a few words in a nice sonorous voice, and we would push back and take off. Then I’d have another gin and tonic. I know this won’t win me many friends, but when it comes to holidays I am firmly of the Smuts Ngonyama persuasion: I didn’t struggle to hang around the Transvaal. Give the people holidays, I say. Take me to Haga Haga or the Maldives, Mpande or Rio, Lusikisiki or Paris. I don’t mind. Just give me the beach, some shade, a book and — don’t push it — the chance to do one or two hikes, and I am in.

This year, sadly, I’m not rushing to get on that big Boeing — yet. Now, I know that for many of you the skies are open, but I’m still not feeling too footloose and fancy-free. My adventure nose still refuses to lift. I hate to be the Debbie Downer of the family, but I think we’re just going to have to knuckle down for another six months to a year. We have not turned enough of a corner — yet. Caution, I say.

I’m holding back on the big, big travel because we are still in the woods economically and in global health terms. Plus, the global geopolitical outlook is just despicable. Think about it. Locally, we started the year with the burning down of the parliament building. Then Judge Zondo said our politicians are crooked. And every second hour Eskom announces new power cuts.Then Vladimir Putin went and pummelled poor Ukraine. The price of petrol is up and cooking oil has become a luxury. Inflation has got us all hopping, everywhere in the world. The era of globalisation, the political scientists tell us, is over.

Covid-19 is back with a bang and China has got the sniffles, so all of us are likely to find ourselves in trouble sooner rather than later. Which, in a roundabout manner, brings me to my word of caution. After more than two years of lockdowns and absolutely insane travel schedules (I’ve cancelled seven international and two domestic flights in the past two years), we all want to engage in some very serious “revenge travel”, but I’m going to stay local for the next few months. Being who I am, I want to burst out and roam far and wide. Heck, I travelled constantly between continents before the pandemic. Yet, something is shifting in the global political architecture.

I am reminded of Antonio Gramsci, who wrote in his Prison Notebooks: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” We are just emerging from a terrible pandemic. We were looking forward to a great surge forward into a brave, prosperous, post-pandemic future. Yet we now find ourselves in this weird interregnum, this in-between place.

I remain an optimist, though. I’m not cancelling. I am putting off my “revenge travel” for later this year or early 2023. In the meantime, I might do a road trip or a short flight. My “revenge travel” shall be served cold. Which, I suspect, may be the best way to really enjoy it.

 From the June edition of Wanted, 2022.

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