Debbie’s last post, almost

Walking in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela…

We took a walking tour of downtown Joburg, exploring what the city looked like during the ’50’s when Mandela was a practising lawyer. His law office was shared with Oliver Tambo just across from the Magistrate Building. Theirs was the country’s 1st black law partnership. The small building, restored in 2010, has now been turned into an outdoor museum telling the story of the freedom struggle. Between 1952-56, Mandela & Tambo represented blacks against the draconian apartheid laws, like the Group Areas Act (1950) and Pass Laws (1952). We passed the building where Mandela sparred on the roof and the statue of him in boxing pose across from his law offices.

He fought the law and the law won, but only for a while!

He fought the law and the law won, but only for a while!

Saw the Kholvad House, flat 13 on Market Street where Ahmed Kathrada lived and Mandela was a frequent visitor. This was where history was shaped by the intelligentsia of the freedom movement. Our guide Ishvara mused what a different South Africa there could have been had these men not been arrested at Rivonia and sentenced to prison for the best years of their lives.

The group of young freedom fighters

Mandela and the freedom fighters intelligentsia

We visited a mining compound for male migrant workers (now a Workers’ Museum) with conditions resembling a jail.  Later these hostels for men became the dominant form of housing with families being separated and dire conditions prevailing.

Our guide pointed out some of the original buildings still in the neighbourhood with many under threat of demolition and others ripe for redevelopment.  Johannesburg is a prime example of urban renewal and rejuvenation providing initiatives such as tax-relief to bring investors back to the CBD.  For sale and sold signs abound.

DSC02063

Prime corner property in the CBD

Diagonal Street is a historic area, a very lively street with storefront shops lined with blanket sellers, bold african prints, hardware & kitchenware stores. You’ll also find many informal traders selling fruit & vegetables, candies, roasted corn on braziers as well as Muti shops where Sangomas (traditional Zulu healers and herbalists: Inyangas) continue to practice today.

The local Muti shop

The local Muti shop

Very popular street food, roasted corn. The woman is cooking it on her brazier which she carries on her head.

Very popular street food, roasted corn. The woman is cooking it on a lit brazier which she carries on her head

William Kentridge: Fire Walker, a woman walking carrying a brazier on her head. Sculpture located in Newtown, Joburg.

William Kentridge immortalized the image in his sculpture: Fire Walker, a woman walking carrying a brazier on her head. Sculpture located in Newtown, Joburg.

We visited a shweshwe shop, Becker Street Wholesalers, with floor to ceiling bolts of fabric from the DaGama Textiles with the 3 cats label. Shweshwe is a very durable fabric used to make dresses for (mostly) domestic workers.  Textiles are important to South Africa’s history. Starting in the apartheid era, people around the world took to wearing tribal cloth shirts in solidarity with the blacks in South Africa and America.

Ishvara, our tour guide and Catherine in a scheshwe

Ishvara, our tour guide and Catherine in a shweshwe shop next to the ‘in solidarity’ cloth

 Rosebank Mall Rooftop Sunday Market

What a great alternative to the crazy mall culture that is so pervasive in South Africa. In an upscale suburb of Rosebank, every Sunday this market is a happenin’ place! Located on the rooftop, (the parking lot really) of a very popular mall. Handcrafted jewellery, art, crafts, clothes from all over Africa, plus local cheeses, meats, and other food items are sold. Such an innovative idea.

Namukolo Mukutu, one of my favorite artists at the Rosebank Rooftop Sunday Market (on top of a shopping mall;what a great idea!). She does custom made clothing and accessories. Both Karen & I could not resist...

Namukolo Mukutu, one of my favorite artists at the Rosebank Rooftop Sunday Market. She does custom made clothing and accessories. Both Karen & I could not resist…

 Visits of Gauteng Social Housing

Karen Hemmingson, Director of Research at BC Housing arrived in Joburg to do a 3 month volunteer job with Rooftops at NASHO. I was fortunate to participate with her in some of the briefings on the status of social housing in South Africa as well as tour a number of social housing developments in Joburg and Pretoria.

This is a very young sector, with most of the housing having been built in the last 12-15 years. Some of the stock is much older, worker hostels for men and later used by families. This stock is now being either replaced entirely or refitted to better accommodate family needs.

JOSHCO refit of hostel in Selby

JOSHCO, a municipal SHI, refits a hostel in Selby

In downtown Joburg is an area called Hillbrow. Built in the early 60s for middle class whites, it was abandoned after Apartheid. White flight meant the buildings sat empty and were ripe for squatting and “highjacking”. Hillbrow became a “no-go” zone, with the city refusing to provide basic services (water, sewer, police). Thugs and gangs ruled the area for many years.

The Johannesburg Housing Company (JHC) came in first, buying up buildings for a song and refitting them for low and modest-income working families. JOSHCO (Johannesburg Housing Company) joined in as did a new SHI, Madulammoho, an offshoot of a church-based organization, MES.

A old nurses' residence transformed by Madulammoho.

A old nurses’ residence transformed by Madulammoho.

The new Hillbrow, complete  with too many satellite dishes!

The new Hillbrow, complete with too many satellite dishes!

Recognizing that the public realm is a crucial part of neighbourhoods, JHC and other SHIs as well as a private landlord, Trafalgar, worked to start eKhaya, a regeneration partnership between the SHIs and private sector owners.  Started in 2004, they registered as a City Improvement District (CID) and have transformed much of the area. Reducing criminal activity, cleaning up and securing lanes between buildings, convincing the city to bring services back, setting up a security patrol system (BadBoyz).  One of their major achievements was the reclaiming of a derelict lot which had become a haven for drug dealers. eKhaya Park is now a magnet for the area, running sport and recreation events for the thousands of children who live in Hillbrow.

eKhaya Park

eKhaya Park

Much of this is due to the dogged persistence of a magnificent woman, Josie Adler. She was born and raised in downtown Joburg and has now devoted her time and energy to this enormous task. Pretty well everyone who is anyone in the City will know Josie, at least by reputation!

Josie and her successor, Bafikile, coordinator of eKhaya

Josie and her successor, Bafikile, coordinator of eKhaya

 

Catherine’s 66th Birthday Dinner

CB's birthday celebration with friends & colleagues: Karen (BC Housing), Alison (housing consultant focusing on special needs), db, Malcolm (db's boss at NASHO), cb, Emmanuelle (Malcolm's partner and a health policy analyst). Catherine is showing the bottle of Canadian ice wine brought all the way by db. A gift from Chris & Laurie! It was a lovely top off to the evening!

CB’s birthday celebration with friends & colleagues: Karen (BC Housing), Alison (housing consultant focusing on special needs), db, Malcolm (ED of NASHO), cb, Emmanuelle (Malcolm’s partner and a health policy analyst). Catherine is showing the bottle of Canadian ice wine brought by db. A going away gift from Chris & Laurie! It was a lovely top off to a wonderful evening and dinner at La Luna’s on 7th Street in our neighbourhood!

We got invited to “a doppie in the Koppies”…

A doppie is an Afrikaans name for a drink. As you know from previous blogs, the Melville Koppies are hills overlooking the city. George and Heike, the 5th Street gatekeepers of the nature reserve, invited folks to meet at the rock outcrop to have a doppie on the koppies and watch the sun go down.

A sundowner on the Koppies with friends, canines, shared wine and munchies.

A sundowner on the Koppies with friends, canines, shared wine and munchies.

Here's what we sundowner's were waiting for...

Here’s what we sundowners were waiting for…

That’s it for now folks….!

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Debbie’s last post, almost

  1. Bill Rooney

    Hi C & D,
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY CATHERINE!!!!
    Thanks for the walking tour of Jozi. I had heard of some of those places but never seen them – good photos.
    Hard to believe that this may be your last posting Deb. Man how time flies when your having fun and with your sweetie. When do you return to the mother country?
    We have been hiking in our Spanish copies nearly every other day. Weather is cool & clear, just great for hiking. We rented a car so we’ll be driving deeper into the mtns before starting our hikes. Yesterday we walked up a mtn. side that was burnt 6/14. The whole hillside was bare. All the Iberian pines had been cut down and hauled & piled by the roadside in large blackened piles- pretty grim. Then we made the ridge line and the others side was untouched presenting a stark view of before & after the fire . These mountains are full of surprises.
    Safari njema
    Lorraine & Bill

  2. mcpeakie701

    Lovely Debbie. Looking forward to seeing you when you get home.

    Missing you Catherine. Happy Birthday.

    W

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