Things That I Have Learned In Johannesburg, South Africa

Things That I Have Learned In Johannesburg, South Africa

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For you in the West to hear the phrase ‘All men are created equal’ is to draw a yawn. For us, it’s a miracle. We’re starting out at rock bottom, man. But South Africa does have soul. ~ Athol Fugard

There is only one other city on the continent that is bigger than Joburg, and that is the bustling metropolis of Cairo in Egypt. Johannesburg is the second biggest city on Africa.

The Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital is the largest acute hospital in the world. The hospital has 2,964 beds and is the only public hospital serving the 3.5 million people in Soweto, Johannesburg.

Managing your safety is an every day thing in Joburg. With Johannesburg’s extremes of poverty and wealth and the presence of illegal firearms, it’s hardly surprising that the city can be a dangerous place. Do your sightseeing in daylight downtown and be aware of no go zones. As in any high crime metropolitan area, be aware of your surroundings.

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I was with a tour guide who knew where and when to go places. I loved Joburg and did not feel any more unsafe than New York or Sao Paulo.  (FMB Stadium where the 2010 World Cup Soccer matches were held)

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Don’t expect too much from the police, who normally have priorities other than keeping an eye out for tourists. Do the research before you go.  (Il Giardino, Stanley 44)

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Johannesburg is the world’s biggest man-made forest, with over 10 million trees. This number is set to grow, as City Parks launched the Greening Soweto project in 2006, with the goal of planting an extra 200 000 trees in the famous township. Not only do Joburg’s trees combat the greenhouse effect, they help reduce noise.

South Africa’s turbulent past offers a lot of material for its contemporary artists and galleries. The art work focuses on everything from history, race, identity, the modern world and everything in between.

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it is definitely an exciting time to be viewing contemporary art in Johannesburg.

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At the Goodman Gallery, I spent a lot of time looking at the work and art films of William Kentridge. He is a South African artist and one of the most famous contemporary artists working in the world today. The work  that I saw was very much based on real events, anti apartheid and anti evil all pulled together by artistic magic.

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The rich archaeological site known as the Cradle of Humankind is on the outskirts of the city. Forty per cent of the world’s human ancestor fossils have been discovered around Johannesburg.

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The Market Theatre was founded in 1976 in the old Indian fruit market building. It is world-renowned for the many anti apartheid plays and received a special Tony Award for giving a voice to their struggle around the world. The theater company is known for premiering Athol Fugard’s plays. He was an anti-iapartheid playwriter. I was aware of the Market Theatre in 1980’s when I saw Sarafina on Broadway about the student riots in Soweto.

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There are few places with as much history as Soweto. it was the center of resistance to apartheid and symbol of the poverty the system created.There is still plenty of poverty but there is also a middle class and a wealthy neighborhood.

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Chez Alina is great place to have lunch in Soweto. It is a house that has been renovated into a restaurant adorned with the work of local artists. It can be a bit touristy so go during off hours. ( www.chezalina.co.za )

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Alina and her daughter created a restaurant that serves delicious homemade local food and employs people from the neighborhood – dancers, singers, artists selling crafts, and restaurant employees. I particular enjoyed the singers who sang the South African music of the fifties.

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It was such a pleasure to meet and talk to Alina who takes great pride in what she does. It is definitely something to include in your Johannesburg days.

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Satyagraha House was the home of Mohandas Gandhi when he lived in South Africa, It was designed by his good friend architect Hermann Kallenbach.

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The museum is filled with the intertwining history of these two men. It is unique in that it links a guest house and museum. ( www.satyagrahahouse.com )

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The museum serves as a record of Gandhi’s fascinating life in South Africa.

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It was supposedly here that Mahatma Gandhi created and developed his philosophy of passive resistance: which was called Satyagraha in Sanskrit.

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It takes one-minute longer to boil an egg in Johannesburg than it does in the coastal cities of Cape Town and Durban. This is because Joburg is unexpectedly high and 2000m above sea level.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Things I Have Learned In South Africa

Things I Have Learned In South Africa

“Cry, the beloved country, for the unborn child that’s the inheritor of our fear. Let him not love the earth too deeply. Let him not laugh too gladly when the water runs through his fingers, nor stand too silent when the setting sun makes red the veld with fire. Let him not be too moved when the birds of his land are singing. Nor give too much of his heart to a mountain or a valley. For fear will rob him if he gives too much.” Alan Paton

Four of the five fastest land animals in the world live in South Africa: the cheetah, the springbok the wildebeest, and the lion.

DSC01635South Africa is the second largest exporter of fruit in the world.

South Africa has the longest wine route in the world.

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Walt Disney serves South African wine exclusively at its 73-acre Animal Kingdom Lodge in the United States.

South Africa is the only country in the world to voluntarily abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Peppermint crisp is something every South African grew up with.

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Drivers use the left-hand side of the road in South Africa and drive on the opposite side of the car  like London.

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South Africa is home to the highest commercial bungy jump in the world, called Bloukrans Bridge Bungy (216 meters).

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OR Tambo airport is the busiest in Africa processing about 9 million passengers a year.

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South Africa has the cheapest electricity in the world.

South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique are tearing down fences between the countries’ game parks to create a 13,500 square mile game park, which will become the largest conservation area in the world. It will be bigger than Switzerland, Belgium or Taiwan.

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South Africa is now the only country in the world to have hosted the Soccer, Cricket and Rugby World Cup! (Capetown Stadium)

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The oldest remains of modern humans were found in South Africa and are well over 160,000 years old. (Cradle Of Humankind)

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South Africa has a penguin colony, which thrives thanks to the cold Antarctic currents on the west coast near the Cape. (Boulder Beach)

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Rooibos tea has become a worldwide favorite for its fresh taste and excellent health properties. It is only grown in a small region (in the Cederberg) of South Africa and has to be exported in massive quantities from here.

What about beer? South African brewery SAB Miller ranks – by volume – as the largest brewing company in the world. Saffers love their beer…but the real reason the brewery is so big? SABMiller also supplies up to 50% of China’s beer.

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South Africa is rated thrd in the world in supplying safe, drinkable tap water.

This is the only country with two Nobel Peace Prize winners who lived on the same street. Both Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu had houses on Vilakazi Street in Soweto.

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South Africa has had an unsettled history, with apartheid policies made by the National Party enforcing a system of segregation from 1948 until 1994. (Apartheid Museum)

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Nelson Mandela was elected president in 1994 after South Africa’s first universal elections.

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The deepest mine is a gold mine in South Africa. in 1977 the Western Deep Levels Mine reached a depth of 11,749 feet. Most mines descend to about 3,300 feet.

Dr. Christiaan Barnard, at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, performed the first human heart transplant in the world in 1967. He was also the first to do a “piggyback” transplant in 1971, and he was the first to do a heart-lung transplant.

South Africa is the largest producer of meat in Africa.

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There are about 280,000 windmills on farms across South Africa, second in number only to Australia.

There are more than 2000 shipwrecks odd the coast of South Africa some dating back five hundred years.

South Africa has 19,004 miles of railway track – 80% of Africa’s rail infrastructure.

The world’s largest diamond was the Cullinan Diamond, found in South Africa in 1905. It weighed 3,106.75 carats uncut. It was cut into the Great Star of Africa, weighing 530.2 carats, the Lesser Star of Africa, which weighs 317.40 carats, and 104 other diamonds of nearly flawless color and clarity. They now form part of the British crown jewels.

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A South African sunset goes on forever.

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Fly safe,

JAZ