Travel Story Spirit soars at Jo’burg airport

Photo of Mogens Johansen

International airports around the world can be pretty bland and anonymous places that don’t necessarily give any hints of where in the world you have just landed.

O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg is no exception in that regard — it is a large functional, efficient space that serves travellers well.

But the colour of Africa is immediately evident as I wait in the immigration queue at O.R Tambo.

Unthinkable loud bold fashion combinations are worn with pride and confidence. 

Immaculately dressed African women wearing colourful dresses, chunky jewellery and headscarves and African men in flashy shiny suits and shoes stand out among other travellers.

“Welcome to South Africa," says the smiling customs officer as he hands back my passport. 

That doesn’t usually happen, I think to myself.

The good vibe continues when a helpful staff member points me in the right direction for my connecting flight to Skukuza. Later — while enjoying a coffee and breakfast at the SAA lounge — I listen to two staff members quietly singing a beautiful harmony as they work away in the coffee shop.

The sounds and colour of Africa are already evident and I have only just arrived.

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