In honor of the World Cup, I’m posting this luggage tag my grandparents received in the early 1970s when they flew from Chicago to Johannesburg. Back in the day, hotels and airlines gave out stickers like this one.
Flying to South Africa during apartheid wasn’t easy. My grandparents flew from Chicago to Amsterdam, then on to Kano, Nigeria before arriving in Johannesburg. At that time, the African countries that allowed flights to South Africa were Nigeria and Kenya.
Times have certainly changed.
But I still think about what South Africa was like back then. A couple months ago I asked my grandma about that trip.
She said they stayed with Jewish friends in Cape Town. Jews had settled in South Africa long before apartheid, and while the Jewish community as a whole didn’t come out against apartheid until the 1980s, my grandma said her friends didn’t support apartheid.
I often wonder what it would be like to live somewhere that didn’t treat everyone fairly, but gave you a chance when other places wouldn’t.
It’s a dilemma I’m glad I don’t have to experience.