Yes, we also have winter in Johannesburg. And it is cold!!
When you live in South Africa you have to go and watch some game. If you haven’t seen the big five, you haven’t been in South Africa. There are several ways to watch game: Luxury private resorts with exclusive game drives, staying in regular camps and drive around yourself or book some tours or walk. Walk in the bush with no fences and the animals around you? Yes.
During Easter we have been to the Kruger national park for almost a week. We were going to hike for four days and camp in the wild and do some old fashion game watching from the car the other days.
I am not a political specialist and I am certainly not aware of all the details in South African politics, but it does grasp me: the South African politics.
Today I read that The Netherlands is ranked number two in the World Press Freedom Index 2014. South Africa is not yet on that level, but was able to climb up to the 42nd place compared to 52nd place in 2013. Still, there is a lot to be done to reach more press freedom. Last Sunday there was an article with picture on the front page of the Sunday Times, which showed a journalist whose phone was taken by an ANC official.
The last two months I have been working at GRINDcities on a project about crowd funding and finding out what people want in their streets. The project is called Urban Trust. Urban because, well, it is about public spaces in an urban environment. And trust because it represents a fund as well as trust between people. And that is something that Johannesburg needs, trust in one another. The first small projects will take place in the area between Maboneng, a hip upgraded area, and Jeppestown, one of the first industrial suburb with a lot of informal housing and residential hostels. The aim is to connect and link these two neighbourhoods and to show that Jeppestown is not as dangerous anymore and Maboneng is open to everyone.
Driving in Johannesburg can be challenging. The every day conversation at work is about how bad traffic this morning was. And seriously, traffic can get really tough here. In Amsterdam we knew that you had to leave before 7.30 in the morning to avoid traffic. But we can’t figure out such a ground rule here in Johannesburg. This is not the main point of this blog, though. This blog is not about the taxis either, although they do drive like crazy. It is about how South Africans use the roundabouts. Continue reading
It has not stopped raining for about two weeks now and they say it will keep on raining. The view from where I work is normally breathtaking (see header picture of my blog). Today, and the previous days, the view is grey:
This week I have attended the conference “Spatial Tranformation of Cities Conference” in Johannesburg. It was about the city and its challenges such as public transport, housing, diversity, inclusive neighbourhoods etc. Besides local professionals, several professors were flown in from Brazil, Thailand, India, Belgium and the UK. In general it was a mixed audience (academic/practitioners/government/private) that attended the conference.
Downtown Johannesburg. A lot of Johannesburgers still don’t like to go there. Our former landlord actually said; don’t go downtown if you don’t have to. But there are so many places downtown that a worth exploring. I have just started.
A little bit of history to understand how downtown became a no-go zone for a long time. Since 1994, the end of Apartheid, people were free to live where they wanted to live. For a lot of the black population of Johannesburg that meant not in the townships. So they moved to the CBD, containing the wealthy areas of Braamfontein, New Town and Hillbrow and nobody could do anything against deterioration of these areas.
Safety is the most important thing in Johannesburg, it is even more important than a waterproof roof.”It doesn’t matter if you live in a mansion or in a township, safety is number one.” This is what I’ve heard from a man helping me to move into our new house. You can fix your roof, but you can’t change the surroundings. It is a typical view on living in Joburg, which I have found not to be true. Continue reading