But look out the window at the endless tract housing marching across the scrubby brown hills, punctuated by big malls (Southgate, The Glen, East Rand Mall) and you quickly realize that sprawl has taken over Gauteng Province the way it has much of America.
The difference here is that much of that sprawl has been built by the ANC government in an effort to house millions of poor black people who live in shacks made from corrugated iron and scrap wood. The visual effect is the same: thousands upon thousands of identical little houses on little plots. But at least one gets the feeling progress is being made.
Turning on the radio adds to the weird Californian vibe.
Highveld Stereo ("Joburg's No. 1 Hit Music Station") is a whole lot like KIIS ("LA's #1 Hit Music Station"). I kid you not, the stations use the same damn phrase. Their station IDs sound like they were made in the same studio, somewhere up in the Valley.
Hearing "Africa", by Toto (on Jacaranda 94.2, a local soft rock station) while driving *in* Africa was about as surreal as hearing "One Night in Bangkok" on some Thai station the night I arrived in Bangkok.
At least all the talk radio I heard sounded more like NPR than Rush Limbaugh.