If you are in South Africa and don’t reside under a rock, then you’ve likely heard about the controversy raging over an artist’s portrait of South African President Jacob Zuma, called “The Spear”. If you don’t live in South Africa, or do reside under a rock, you can read about the controversy here.
The ANC (South Africa’s ruling party) has expressed outrage over the portrait, by prominent artist Brett Murray, which portrays President Zuma with exposed…ahem…private parts. In an ANC press release distributed on Thursday, spokespeople called the portrait ”vulgar and distasteful” and claimed that it violates the president’s constitutional rights. The ANC has demanded that the Goodman Gallery — the well-known Johannesburg art gallery where the portrait is displayed as part of a Murray exhibition called “Hail to the Thief II” — remove the picture, and has taken the Goodman Gallery to court over the matter. The gallery has vowed to keep the portrait up. (Obviously.) Continue Reading
I recently visited Alexandra Township for the first time since moving to Joburg, to attend a kids’ baseball tournament. At the end of my post about the tournament, I said I was looking forward to spending more time in Alex in the near future. Turns out my next visit was nearer than I thought — two days later I received an invitation to attend a tour of Alex, sponsored by Joburg Tourism and the Alex Tourism Route-Open Africa Cooperative (ATROAC).
Alex needs more love. It’s just as interesting historically as Soweto, where 99% of tourists go when they want to visit a Joburg township. Alex has its own Gautrain station (Marlboro) and is across the road from Sandton, where most of Joburg’s visitors and business travelers stay. But Alex hasn’t been discovered by the big tour companies yet. Go now, before that changes.
Alex in the foreground. Sandton in the background. [Joe deserves special credit for editing this photo. It didn't look half this good when I shot it.]
I don’t write often about South African government and politics. Politics here are complicated and contentious — even more so than other countries I think, due to South Africa’s incredibly tumultuous history over the last half-century. As a foreigner who only moved here a year ago, I generally don’t presume to understand South Africa’s history and current affairs well enough to provide my own commentary.
But last night I attended a political event that I’d like to comment on: a candlelight vigil protesting the South African Parliament’s proposed Protection of State Information Bill, also called the Secrecy Bill.
Protesters show their opposition to the Secrecy Bill at last night’s candlelight vigil, which was held on Constitution Hill in Joburg. Similar events were also held in Durban and Cape Town.
Yesterday, thanks to my new friends at travelgurus.co.za, I attended a “Rediscover Joburg” tour hosted by the mayor of Johannesburg. The purpose of the tour was to showcase various development projects in the city to members of the media and other invited guests. It was also a farewell tour for the mayor, Amos Masondo, who steps down this Tuesday after 10 years in office.
I showed up at the Joburg Theatre, the tour’s starting point, with no idea what to expect. When I saw the buses, I knew I was in for an exciting day.
The bus I rode during the Rediscover Joburg tour.
Today is Heritage Day, a public holiday celebrating the cultural heritage of South Africa.
Similar to Labor Day and Memorial Day, Heritage Day seems to serve mostly as an excuse for a long weekend. This year the holiday coincided with the end of the ANC General Council meeting so there was a big event at Moses Mabhida Stadium – the brand-new world cup venue in Durban. The specific theme of the event, in addition to South Africa’s heritage, was the success of the 2010 World Cup. The guest of honor was President Jacob Zuma.
Joe photographed the event and I tagged along, as usual. Continue Reading
Joe and I have spent the last couple of days moving between Durban and an area to the north of town called the Valley of a Thousand Hills. Here are some highlights.
After Sunday’s adventures, I’m pleased to say that Joe collected his press credentials in time to cover the opening events of the ANC General Council Meeting. He also got the LandRover repaired and the engine noise is back to a quiet purr. Thank god. Continue Reading
I’m on the verandah of the Lemon Tree Bed & Breakfast in Kloof, a posh suburb of Durban. A breeze is rustling the royal palms in the garden. It’s calm and quiet.
The verandah at the Lemon Tree. Continue Reading