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Hamilton Wende

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

African skies: fly at your own risk

My good editor and good friend Arja Salafranca has rebuked me severely for my tardiness in posting this piece on flying in Africa to Book SA, so here it is. Enjoy!

In the 25 years that I have been working and travelling as a journalist on this continent, some of my most memorable experiences have been on planes. For me, that precise moment when the wheels lift off the ground is always a thrilling experience.

As you hang in the sky in that first ethereal split second, time itself seems to be suspended, holding you in the thrall of the promise of the destination that lies ahead. But sometimes the flight itself is as much of an adventure as the place you are going to.

One of the very first flights I took as a journalist was from Wonderboom just outside Pretoria to Jamba, the secret headquarters of Unita in southern Angola. Unita had kidnapped a group of foreign mine workers and was going to release them in front of the world’s television cameras. Most of the country was very much an active war zone. It was my first trip to a combat area, so I was nervous, excited and curious.

 

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