In February 2012 I went on a tour of Art Deco architecture in the East Rand, organized by the Joburg Photowalkers. I have fond memories of that tour — I loved getting to know this far-flung part of Joburg that I had never visited before. The East Rand was quirky and weird and I liked it. (Read my post about the 2012 tour.) When I saw the Joburg Photowalkers were doing another East Rand Art Deco tour last weekend, I signed up immediately. I brought my friend Ruth, a relative newcomer to Joburg who hadn’t been to the East Rand before. The East Rand, now officially called Ekurhuleni, is the municipality east of the City of Joburg. There are several small towns on the East Rand — Benoni and Springs are the most prominent — which were prosperous gold-mining towns in the early- and mid-20th century. During the 1920s and 30s, these towns produced an inordinate number of Art-Deco-style buildings. Like many small towns around the world, the East Rand’s towns have declined over the last several decades. Most of the beautiful Art Deco buildings are still there, and many of them are nicely preserved. But many of the buildings have decayed significantly. In some […]
After my last post, the Joburg Expat informed me that Heritage Day in South Africa is also “National Braai Day”. I can’t believe I didn’t make this connection sooner, as this is my third Heritage Day in South Africa. Anyway, I like this concept; it reminds me of Memorial Day back home. (Dear Americans: Braai means barbeque in South Africa.) I (unknowingly) celebrated Braai Day on a walkabout through the historic neighborhood of Kensington with the Joburg Photowalkers. I’ve done many photowalks over the last couple of years (browse my photowalk posts here), but haven’t participated in one for a while. It was great to hang out with the old gang, meet some new photowalkers, and cruise the streets of a lovely Jozi neighborhood.
I’ve been in Jozi for nearly two years, during which time I’ve photographed the city skyline from countless different perspectives. (See some examples here, here, and here.) I’m afraid the 2Summers audience may start to tire of my Jozi skyline posts. I’ll hope you’ll hang in there for one more though. This weekend I was lucky enough to take photos from another spectacular vantage point. The 24th floor of the Parktonian Hotel, on the border of Braamfontein and Parktown.
Part 1 of a 2-part (or maybe 3-part) series on why I love boxing. Read Part 2. Also, watch a short video about George’s gym. I’ve been meaning to write about boxing since I started this blog. Boxing has played a huge role in my life over the past two years and I’ve been waiting for just the right time to talk about it. Now, I’ve left it too long. I have too much to say about boxing to fit into a single post. I’ll start at the beginning.
I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record. But this city has an unbelievable number of striking vantage points. Yesterday I visited another one and I think it was the best view I’ve seen yet. I was on a drive around town with a few members of the Joburg Photowalkers. This wasn’t a photowalk; it was a scouting expedition for a photowalk planned for later this week. I’ll explain about that in a future post. But for the purposes of this post, all you need to know is that we drove to the top of a big hill in Yeoville yesterday and parked on Highlands St., across from an apartment block called Westminister Mansions. We got out of the car and saw this:
Yesterday I joined the Joburg Photowalkers on an architectural tour of two towns on the outskirts of Johannesburg: Benoni and Springs. Benoni and Springs — east of Joburg in an area called ‘the East Rand’ — are to Joburg what Frederick and Manassas are to Washington D.C., or what Hackensack is to New York City. They are small towns outside of big towns — places where people tend to live out of necessity, convenience, or habit, rather than for the culture or nightlife. In America we call these towns the outer suburbs, or more simply, the ‘burbs. Due to the influx of gold-mining money in the East Rand during the 1930s, Benoni and Springs boast an unusually large number of art-deco-style buildings. Art deco was the main focus of this tour, and the buildings we visited were beautiful and interesting. But I was just as interested in the glimpses I got of what life is like in small-town South Africa.
I’ve been blogging for quite a while now. I admit it gets tiresome at times. A year ago, I would rush home after doing pretty much anything and blog about it immediately. But 170 posts later, that blogging thrill doesn’t come as easily as it used to. It takes something special to get me excited to blog. Something like Wednesday night. Nelson Mandela Bridge at night, shot from the Queen Elizabeth Bridge.
This post was supposed to be about a photowalk. Most of you know that I’m part of the Joburg Photowalkers; last Saturday we did a walk around St. John’s College, the oldest prep school in Jozi. It’s a beautiful campus — very Dead Poets Society. It was a lovely place to explore and I enjoyed it. The courtyard at St. John’s. It was a Saturday, unfortunately, so there were no cute high school boys walking around in jackets and ties. As I edited through my pictures of St. John’s, I realized this post should be about something else. Or rather someone else. This post is about Joe.
Periodically, “awards” (otherwise known as chain letters) circulate through the blogosphere. One blogger nominates another for, say, “The Most Fabulous Blogger” award. That blogger writes a post accepting the award, says a few witty things about how honored she is to be considered fabulous, then nominates a number of other bloggers for the same award. The nominees are “encouraged” to respond, usually with threats of low traffic and bad juju for those who abstain (all in good fun, of course). I’ve been nominated for such awards a couple of times, but never formally accepted my nominations. I certainly appreciated the recognition, but felt that my acceptance posts would be boring and incomprehensible to my non-blogging readers.
UPDATE (March 2017): I wrote this post six years ago, at a time when I was pretty clueless about life in South Africa and how to write about it. I regret the title of the post and the poverty-porn-like tone that much of its prose conveys. But I have a policy of never deleting any of my old posts, so it will stay. Last Saturday Joe and I went to Diepsloot, a sprawling informal settlement — or squatter camp — on the northern outskirts of Joburg. We went with the Joburg Photowalkers to attend a Mandela Day celebration sponsored by the Diepsloot Arts and Culture Network. Diepsloot. Squatter camps like Diepsloot sprouted up in the mid-1990s, when the apartheid-era townships overflowed with people flocking to South Africa’s cities, and the government began moving those people to empty tracts of land on the cities’ edges. Nearly two decades later, the population is still growing and poverty rages on. Squatter camps, which consist mostly of corrugated iron shacks without running water or electricity, continue to swell. About 200,000 people live in Diepsloot.
You may have noticed this already, but I get a lot of blog post ideas from my outings with the Joburg Photowalkers. Photowalking is a simple yet brilliant concept: A gang of people get together, walk places, and take pictures of stuff. It’s the perfect way to meet people, improve your photography, and go places you would never go alone with an expensive camera around your neck. A Photowalker stops to capture the sunset on his way to the “Painting with light” photowalk in downtown Jozi. (Photo courtesy of Joe.)