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Johannesburg, South Africa

Exploring Johannesburg

For three years I wrote a monthly column called Jozi Rewired for

Joburg’s oldest paper, the Saturday Star.

 

I traversed the city, always looking for intriguing things Joburgers were up to.

 

I poked my nose into anything and everything - tuk-tuks, biking, canoeing, new housing, pop-up food, running, rooftop gardens, the Hillbrow tower, landfill to power, quiz nights, skateboarding, and what's happening to some of our oldest and grandest buildings.

 

Take a read.  

June 20, 2015

Ponte, the tallest residential building in Joburg and probably Africa, is full at last, perhaps because it is run a little like a military camp.  But this camp is loved by its residents who wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

One resident told me: “It’s nice here, it’s safe and quiet and secure.” He has lived on the 48th floor for five years, and with arms in all directions to express his enthusiasm, he said: “You’ll love it,...

May 17, 2015

Horses grazing lustily in a lush meadow with a river running through it seems like a perfect rural scene. Except that it takes place in the middle of suburbia, opposite Delta Park in Craighall Park.

I have seen these horses for some time, when I ride my mountain bike along the tranquil Braamfontein Spruit. I have wondered where they are stabled, so last month I followed them home. I cycled over the bridge, and up the path to Ma...

April 11, 2015

 

 

Think Parkhurst and you probably think trendy coffee shops and restaurants, not the last mile.

 

But the last mile, or overcoming the last mile, has further raised the trendy barometer as Parkhurst has become the first residential suburb in Joburg to get genuine high-speed – as much as one gigabyte a second – internet, with fibre optic cable.

 

The last mile is the final, crucial leg of connectivity into a person’s home, that wh...

March 7, 2015

This crazy city of ours throbs along at a pace that is sometimes breathtaking, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes just plain exhausting. What would it look like as the perfect city?

In an article last year in The Guardian entitled “The 10 things a perfect city needs”, Paul Mason saunters through what makes a perfect city.

He reckons it should have theatres where you can “look across the stalls to celebrities and states people,...

February 7, 2015

 

Chunks of concrete, scraps of plastic, bottle tops and a short piece of hosepipe lie in the shallow water on the shoreline, just where the Soweto Canoe and Recreation Club (Scarc) youngsters step into the Power Park Dam to launch their canoes. But they don’t notice the debris – their focus is on sliding out on to the shimmering water, and paddling their boats into the sunset at the far end of the dam.

 

I spent an hour and more...

January 3, 2015

For so long I have been infatuated with this house, peeping from between the trees and tall bamboo at the start of Oxford Road. That whimsical, eclectic mansion Dolobran. Recently I took a rare public tour of the house, which stares defiantly across the freeway at Herbert Baker’s more staid but still grand Northwards. 

Baker, Cecil John Rhodes’s favourite architect, has left his impressive footprint in the city with homes and c...

December 6, 2014

 

I have a sense it’s going to happen this time - one of my favourite downtown buildings, the once-grand-but-badly-neglected Rissik Street Post Office, is going to get some way overdue love, and wake from its dreadful slumber. Ravaged by theft and a devastating fire, it has sat quietly seething in the CBD.

 

Last week I stood in the darkened postal hall, with its once-gorgeous, tall leaded glass roof, still there but dark because...

November 15, 2014

In mid-October I took a trip through dark tunnels, storm water drains and stone-walled canals, under arterial roads and through a cemetery. No, it wasn’t a scary underground tour of the city - it was the Urban Assault or Juma, the Jozi Urban Mountain Bike Adventure, and it was the most fun I’ve had on a bike in Joburg for a while.

I have been curious for a long time about the beautiful canal running through the Parkview Golf Co...

October 4, 2014

Boer Colonel Ignatius Ferreira would be tipping his brown felt hat in pleasure at developments in the inner city suburb of Ferreirastown. It’s here that in 1886 he halted his wagon, pitched his tent and hoped that he would have more luck making his fortune with gold than he’d had with diamonds. 

This week another entrepreneur halted his wagon in Ferreirastown just several blocks from where Ferreira’s wagon stood, near the...

September 6, 2014

 

Twelve-year-old Happy and 14-year-old Lucky are just that – happy and lucky. The two youngsters are learning to skateboard in the David Webster Park in Troyeville with up to 50 other kids from the hood, forgetting their troubles in what’s called Skateistan, a worldwide movement to encourage kids to learn a skill while learning much more.

 

It hit Joburg in March this year, and it’s making waves in the lives of these often hard-...

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