Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Johannesburg - people and places

In my first week in Jo'burg I spent an afternoon walking the city and inner suburbs with Jo and Tania.  Both are recent graduates of Wits University's Archaeology Department, and both have a fervent passion for their beloved Johannesburg.  They are both part of the tour company, Past Experiences, founded by Jo as part of her one woman crusade to bring the people - locals and visitors alike - back to central Jo'burg.  (Her company was even featured in the Sydney Morning Herald just last month - see here.)

Wandering the city with these two energetic and enthusiastic young women was fabulous.  For a start, I was much less jumpy than usual - nothing like the power of numbers to make you feel a bit safer.  But this 'tour' was much less about ticking of tourist sights, and more about learning how to navigate the urban sprawl and how to find its hidden gems.  We found cool cafes in Braamfontein, caught the local bus through Hillbrow (still a place even these intrepid tour guides will only go in a vehicle), wandered the CBD's Main Street, saw Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo's law offices, found apartheid-era signs noone has bothered to take down, admired the graffiti in Newtown and took in the varied architectural delights that are Johannesburg's buildings.  Here are just a few of the photos I took of people and places on my wanderings!

Chancellor House - the home of Madela and Tambo Attorneys
in the 1950s - the first black law offices in South Africa.  The
original sign is still in the top left window.

The quintessential corner store

A gentleman minding his shop in the CBD - when he saw me taking photos
he requested that I take one of him.  (I think his pose looks well-practised!)

A larger than life tribute to Walter Sisulu - freedom fighter and former secretary
general of the ANC - and his wife Albertina Sisulu, affectionately referred to as 'Mama
Sisulul' for her role in the struggle against apartheid.  The statue has been created to allow
children (and agile adults) to sit in the laps of Walter and Albertina!

A remnant of the apartheid era - I asked whether some of these signs
have been preserved in memory of the struggle, but am told they are
not - this one still is here because noone has bothered to take it down.

Inside a traditional medicine shop - I confess I didn't
look too closely at the items hanging from the roof.

A local taxi driver - who also asked that his photo be taken!

Creative taxi signage.  The building behind has apparently
been in the process of being painted for some years - this is
the latest version.  (Inside there was a fabulous jewellery shop.)

The 'diamond building' - so named for its shape and reflective qualities.

Public art in Newtown, Jo'burg's 'cultural precinct'


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