My first full year in Johannesburg is over. I won’t try to sum it up in any kind of neat and tidy way, as that would be impossible.

I suppose it would be logical for me to say something like, ‘Good riddance to 2011, it was a horrible year. Looking forward to better times in 2012.’ But that’s not how I feel at all, actually. This was the most remarkable year of my life and I don’t want it to be over. What I’d really like to do is travel back in time to about halfway through 2011, and pause the clock there forever.

If I could choose a moment to go back to in 2011, it would be this one.

I’m terrified of 2012. But like it or not, it’s here. Time to look forward.

Before I do that though, I’ll share one more set of pictures from last year. I spent the final day of 2011 doing the same thing I did on the final day of 2010: watching the Jozi Carnival. I stood on the same street corner in Newtown that I stood on last year, and watched the children and the floats go past. (The Jozi Carnival is actually a parade.)

The parade looked very similar to the way it looked last year. Fortunately my photography has improved.

Jozi celebrates its 125th anniversary this year. ‘Rea Vaya’ is the name of the city’s rapid transit bus service. It also means ‘We are going.’

Giant papier-mâché head.

Sparkly pink hat.

Cutest moment of the afternoon.

The parade finale: giant puppets.

Karen is accosted by a puppet.

The Jozi Carnival is no Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. There are no professional dancers or three-storey cartoon balloons. It’s a homespun affair. This year there was a huge rainstorm when the parade began, so the floats and costumes were looking especially droopy. Carefully applied face paint was smeared.

But none of that mattered. The Jozi Carnival, like Jozi more generally, is all about the spirit of its people.

Who needs giant balloons when you can have giant smiles instead?

Happy New Year from Jozi.

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