THE WORLD FROM...Johannesburg
South Africans' joy at rejoining world is muted by growing crime, deprivation in black townships
FOR the past week this has been a city surrounded by so much pain that its citizens have been unable to celebrate a continual flow of good news.After years of chronicling South Africa's exclusion from every imaginable international activity and forum, newspaper headlines over the past week have recorded the ending of the country's pariah status. "Miss World, Here I Come" screams the mass circulation Sunday Times above a color photograph of blonde Diana Tilden-Davis holding an inflatable globe in her arms above the caption: "The World in her hands..." The globe symbolizes the opening of the floodgates that have isolated South Africa from international sport, trade, culture, and art for the past 15 years. "South Africa is back in World Cricket" proclaims the headline of the Johannesburg daily newspaper, The Citizen. For most black South Africans the pain of the violence in the townships and the deprivation they live under make rejoicing about the return to the international fold remote, to say the least. "A nation poised to explode" pronounced the Weekly Mail last Friday following another in a series of massacres of black train commuters in Soweto. For many white South Africans the flood of good news is tempered by shock statistics of rampant crime and daily press reports of black leaders advocating nationalization as a means of redistributing wealth and threatening to renege on foreign loans entered into by the present government. But the resumption of normal visa procedures and the prospect of direct flights to the United States being resumed this week - to be followed soon by flights to Japan and Australia - provides the prospect of temporary relief from the crisis. Resumption of normal visa procedures for South Africans visiting countries like Canada and Australia has both a practical and a symbolic dimension. Suddenly, after years of being limited to a handful of pariah nations, South Africans can pick and choose again. Specia l packages to the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, and Egypt beckon would-be travelers. The state-run tourist promotion board, Satour, has produced a brochure on how to greet Japanese in anticipation of the tens of thousands of Japanese tourists expected to visit South Africa in the next five years. Under the headline: "Apartheid Incorporated: The Movie," the Weekly Mail's culture supplement recounts the launch of the filming of "Sarafina: The Movie" based on the successful township protest musical by acclaimed South African playwright Mbongeni Ngema. The movie, which is to be produced by South Africa's Anant Singh and directed by local director Darrell Roodt, stars Whoopi Goldberg and South African actor John Kani. It will be choreographed by the man who did such Michael Jackson videos as "Thriller !" and "Beat It". The launch of the filming was billed as a private concert for African National Congress President Nelson Mandela and a group of visiting African-American celebrities - the "Democracy Now Tour including Quincy Jones. Ms. Goldberg will arrive this week to begin filming in Soweto, a township brimming with anger following the police shooting of youth activist Vuyani Mabaxa two weeks ago. Local newspapers have been carrying a full page advertisement giving details of a rock festival in Nigeria next month that will combine the best black South African musical talent on the same bill as the likes of Dionne Warwick, Nina Simone, and Ziggy Marley. Newspapers speculate about possible visits by Paul Simon, Michael Jackson, and Luciano Pavarotti.