How could I have explained to anyone that I have been in South Africa for 5 weeks and didn’t make it to Johannesburg/Joburg/Jozi! I just could not restrict myself to only the fairest cape. So for week three, I packed up and headed to ‘a world class African city’. It might take a whole PhD thesis to try to deconstruct how city marketing authorities came up with this interesting tagline and what they hope to achieve with this. Importantly, it will be worth trying to understand the planning and policy out-workings of becoming a world class Africa city. What is world class? What is an African city? But I digress.
I had a great time in Joburg and felt like I was on a much needed proper holiday – after two intensive weeks of research and thesis writing. I had lovely hosts in Jesse and Jana -thanks once again! – who helped me settle in and introduced me to some of their friends. It was nice getting the chance to have mini ISS reunions with Glenda and Thandi separately (too bad I couldn’t meet you Sacha). On some levels, the centre of Joburg felt very familiar. In part it was a bit like a busy market day in Kejetia or Makola in Ghana. The interesting difference that I should quickly point out is the men hairdressers. I don’t think I have seen many men braiding women’s hair in Ghana but in Joburg there were a large number of men braiding hair on the pavements. Others were holding up their signboards awaiting customers. There was so many different experiences I encountered – from the wonderful off-duty BRT bus driver who himself heading towards Soweto and engaged me in delightful tales about the neighbourhood called Lagos in Joburg to the self-taught photographer in of Mandela’s house who told me about some of the benefits of tourism to the community. Unfortunately I have used up all my non-thesis writing credits for this week so I will share the experiences later. For now I decided to just let some pictures tell the story.
Oh, I almost forgot this one…..in my first Cape Chronicle post I mentioned that one of my earliest memory of South Africa came from the poem – Nightfall in Soweto – by Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali. I have now gone to see Soweto for myself – filli-filli (live and coloured) as we would say in Ghana. The houses I saw are not the same matchbox house Oswald talks about in his poem. Things have changed but I could still imagine how life must have been for Oswald when he languished in helplessness during nightfall. I still need that experience to sink and then I can (re) appreciate the poem and write a reflection of it.
Now here are some thousands of words of my Joburg trip in pictures……which included a 30 hours Shosholoza Meyl train ride from Joburg back to Cape Town