#444: South Africa: The road to Polokwane


I phoned a colleague in Cape Town and wanted to leave a message.
"Please ask him to phone me in Polokwane," I said.

"Where?" his secretary asked, sounding as if she had bitten into a
lemon, "Polokwane, where's that?"

"Between Mokopane and Makhado in Limpopo," I said.

"Where is that?" she asked patiently.

I could hear she thought she had a joker on the line.

"Well, "I explained, "you drive from Tshwane past Bela-Bela and
Modimolle through the tollgate. Continue past Mokopane but watch your
speed as speed traps make lots of money from those travelling too fast.
Polokwane is just after Mokopane but if you reach Makahado you have
gone too far." I wasn't sure how we'd ended up on the road route when
all I wanted was a telephone call.

"Just hold it right there, sir," she interrupted. "Where is Makhado?"

"Between Polokwane and Musina," I said, trying to be helpful.

"Excuse me, sir, but where is Musina?"

"Musina is between Makhado and Harare."

"Do you live in Harare?" she asked as if she'd suddenly seen the light.

"No," I said, "I am trying to explain where Polokwane is."

"In Zimbabwe?" she asked hopefully.

"No, in Limpopo," I corrected her.

She gave a helpless sigh and said: "Please can we start again."

I thought at this stage she might be thinking she was live on air with
Leon Schuster and she became a bit wary. "Where is Tshwane?"

"That's easy," I said, "between Bela-Bela and Egoli."

"No sir, I mean the town."

"So do I," said I, figuring she was now into soapies while I was still
on the road, so to speak.

"Egoli is on the other side of Tshwane when coming from the direction
of Bela-Bela," I said.

"Excuse me, have you perhaps had too much to drink?"

"No," I said, "I am not drunk. They changed the name."

"Do you mean someone has changed your name?"

"Not my name, the town's name."

"What town's name?"


"You live in Pietersburg!" she cried with delight.

I could detect the dawn of understanding. "No," I said, "I live in
Polokwane, formerly known as Pietersburg."

"No shit?" she blurted.

"No shit!" I confirmed.

"So you're phoning from Polokwane previously known as Pietersburg?"


"Now what were all the other names you mentioned?"

I realised the poor lass needed a lesson in the geography of our country
pretty quickly, so I explained: "Egoli is Johannesburg. Tshwane is
Pretoria. If you travel north you pass Bela-Bela, formerly Warmbaths,
after that Modimolle that was Nylstroom and Potgietersrust that is
Mokopane now. After Mokopane you get Polokwane that was Pietersburg,
then Louis Trichardt that became Makhado. After you have passed Makhado
you get Musina that was originally Messina."

"And Musina is by the Limpopo!" she exclaimed triumphantly.

"Yes," I said, "but the Limpopo I was speaking of is the province."

"What do you call the river then?"

"Limpopo," I said.

"Blerry hell!"


[Contributed by Peter Woods from Egoli]

Stress is when you wake up screaming and
you realise you haven't fallen asleep yet.



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