Dust-busting in Soweto

2011-11-04 07:36

He’s wearing a yellow-and-black outfit, padded pants and a light long-sleeved T-shirt, dusty boots and equally dusty helmet. He’s unrecognisable. It’s a complete change from the sauve young man in a collared shirt and blue shoes I’d met earlier.

Before we take off into the wilderness from the iconic Soweto Water Towers, self-proclaimed entrepreneur and party-starter Kgomotso Pooe gives me a crash course in how to stay on my quad bike for the duration of the ride. He takes me through a few practice laps and when he is comfortable with my “skills” on the track, the real fun begins.

What better way to conquer the outdoors than riding through Soweto on a mean machine? The feel and sound is enough to get anyone revved up. But this is not just a typical tour of the township. It’s all about providing an authentic experience by exposing clients to the heart of Soweto.

It’s about shebeens, mekhukhu (shacks), magwenya (fat cakes), dikota (bunny chow) – and all from a very different perspective.

We ride through the bushes and I’m literally eating my trainer’s dust. We go over the bridge and into an open field. He checks that I am still on my bike.

From there we get a view of Chris Hani Drive. I decide to catch up so I push down on the throttle. When I reach him, he takes a sharp turn – I assume to see if I had been paying attention to his instructions earlier. I nail it!

After a few more laps, he lets me take the lead. Who’s eating dust now?

After the trip, I’m ready to change out of my protective gear, but he shouts: “Don’t change. We are not done yet.” He hands me a green overall. Next stop, paintball.

I’ve done this before, so I’m confident and I not intimidated when he lays out the “three shots you’re out” rule. Four shots later, I’m on the bench, dead.

Pooe says he started the business a year ago because he enjoys these kinds of outdoor adventures.

However, he always had to go so far away to enjoy them. Now he can enjoy them in his back yard.

“It’s the only township where you can shoot someone, legally – with a paintball gun, that is,” Pooe says, laughing.

“I have travelled many a city and have come to appreciate Soweto in ways I never did before – the diversity, the people, the culture and the fact that no tribe can ever claim it. It’s everyone’s Soweto, forever growing and forever changing. I love it.”

Pooe, born and raised in Soweto, describes himself as an actor. No, not the TV kind, but someone who is not afraid to take action. After getting a taste of that action, I reckon I’ll be back for more. And next time I won’t be benched.

»?For more information, visit www.sowetooutdooradventures.co.za

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