Moments after stepping into Robert’s car at Cape Town International Airport, he started pouring out his heart to me. This was not going to be an ordinary Uber ride.
A Memorable Uber Trip In Cape Town
Robert, who said he was named after the late Robert Mugabe, was from Zimbabwe. He escaped that failed state in order to seek survival in South Africa and support his family who remain in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital.
Our conversation started when he asked me where I was from. When I said the United States, he put up his thumb and said, “Make America Great Again!” We both chuckled. I reciprocated and he told me he was from “Zim” (as he called it). Depending upon your political outlook, he was an illegal alien or undocumented immigrant.
Working construction jobs and driving Uber, Robert worked 12-18 hours a day. He sent all the money home, living in a shared apartment with five other guys. You might think someone who has to live off the grid might be resentful, but Robert was the opposite. He expressed remarkable gratitude for the chance to live and work in South Africa. He also expressed hope that one day he could return to Zim.
Our journey from the airport into town was brief, only taking about 15 minutes. But I stepped out of the car both humbled and encouraged. Humbled, because this dear man who should be enjoying his youth is instead laboring away seven days a week to support his family. Encouraged, because this is the recurring story of immigrants in new lands.
He didn’t hit me up for money, in case you are wondering. I did tip him. Uber in South Africa is incredibly cheap to start with. While I will not condone illegal border crossings, it is hard to fault Robert for simply trying to survive. South Africa has all kinds of problems of its own and it seems to me that people like Robert are well-suited to help that nation forward.
This story is part of my An African Adventure As The World Shut Down trip report.