SA4x4

THE AFRICA Virus

I was infected with the ‘Africa virus’ long before I set foot on the continent. When I was a kid, René Gardi, who lived in the same Bernese suburb as we did, showed films on Swiss television of his expeditions into deepest Africa.

Early during my apprenticeship, I realised that I wanted to spend some years abroad. Back then, it was relatively easy to emigrate to Australia or South Africa. South Africa provided more support to potential immigrants, without requiring a serious commitment. My girlfriend, Margrit, agreed to accompany me on this adventure.

If I remember correctly, we arrived in Johannesburg in March 1974. There, we were picked up and looked after by members of a government organisation. We had food and lodging, and we received addresses of potential employers. Soon, we both had a job, and we rented a self-catering flat at the Mariston Hotel below Hillbrow.

I could not find an interesting job in my field as a radio and television technician - I had arrived too early, as the television age only started in 1976. I therefore settled for repairing the photo automats that were installed in railway stations and outside shops for Photo-Me.

After a short while, I was transferred to Durban, where we worked together on the photo automats. After about half a year, my boss wanted me to go back to Joburg, but I liked it better in Durban, so we resigned. My girlfriend found a job again, and since TVs and antennas were already being sold by various companies - long before one could receive a TV signal - I found a job quite easily.

At that time, living together

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