This week a follow-up on our friend Togetherness the taxi driver
courtesy of Ivan. This article was written by James Clarke.
The South African Black Taxi Association held a competition to select
Gauteng's safest taxi driver. My friend, Togetherness Amadeus Tshabalala,
won hands down with only 337 reported accidents during the year.
Togetherness's prize was a week in London, with his taxi, as a guest
of the London Cab Drivers' Association, who treated him as a celebrity.
London's cabbies were fascinated by the characteristic frontal dent
in Togetherness's minibus - in the shape of a traffic cop with his
Togetherness had no recollection of how it got there.
His hosts were also curious aboput his cab's blacked-out windows.
Togetherness explained that when his taxi was really full, passerbys
were often shocked at the sight of passengers' faces being helplessly
compressed against the windows, grotesquely flattening their eyeballs,
noses and gaping mouths.
Sometimes people thought the passengers were pulling faces and consequently
threw things at the windows.
Part of Togetherness's prize was for him to drive a London cab for
a day with it's three-passenger bench seat at the back and it's two
fold-down seats opposite.
Togetherness demonstrated how one could get 31 people aboard, but
that was only in places such as Earls Court where, among the throng,
there are thousands of expat South Africans.
They happily climbed aboard and remarked afterwards that even 31 inside
a single London cab, it didn't feel anywhere near as full as a Soweto
One day Togetherness drove his own minibus taxi down Cromwell Road
and could easily tell who were expat South Africans among the pedestrians
because, immediately they heard the incessant "toot-toot, toot-toot"
of Togetherness's hooter, they raised their heads and pricked their
ears like a startled Impala.
Then they spotted it - the battered red minibus with it's bumper sticker:
"Defeat constipation: travel by taxi."
They noted the driver's arm hanging loosely, in traditional fasion,
out of the driver's window - an arm that would often gesticulate (to
the confusion of anybody driving behind) while emphasising some point
the driver might be making to his passengers.
Togetherness was squashed up against the drivers door because he had
a young female passenger sharing the other half of his seat. Another
give-away sign was the flexing of the vehicle's side panels due, not
to the spasms of it's squashed passengers, but to the heavy beat of
the music being played at 120 decibels.
The passengers themselves couldn't move - Togetherness had packed
into his taxi more passengers than could legitimately be carried in
a London double-decker bus.
They watched through tears of nostalgia as Togetherness ignored red
traffic lights and London's bus and cab drivers screamed to a halt,
creating that familiar smell: burning rubber.
At one point Togetherness took a gap in a line of startled policemen
and found himself cruising down the Mall behind a glittering coach
and horses with flag-waving people apparently cheering him and he
waving back as he tried to overtake.
To his utter amazement he found himself immediately flanked by Metropolitan
Police on horseback who ushered him to the side and, although agitated,
addressed him as "Sir".
By the end of the day his antics had caused London's streets to
be glazed with tyre rubber and, in parts, traffic was left in total
confusion with shocked Bobbies hugging each other in fear.
Tower Bridge was jammed in the half-open position because Togetherness
had ignored the red light and found himself having to speed up the
ramp and leap the widening gap.
He told me on his return" "Nobody's ever going to believe
that I was stopped by cops on horseback."