Welcome to my blog number 2 and this is a sequel to my previous tittled “Seeking a Vacation Location? Beware of Johannesburg” I promised to do a summary about the beautiful side to South Africa. Let me start with a little confession. When Nelson Mandela was ill and finally passed a few months ago, and there such a media buzz, although I knew who he was, I didn’t care as much as I should. In fact at some point when people kept rumoring about his death, I was fed up, enough already and just wanted to hear something else. Now that I am a few months older and “centuries” wiser, I can certainly relate to what makes South Africa stand out. Please take some time to Journey with me to the Rainbow nation and partake in my newly acquired wisdom. Hahahaha.
Also known as the mother city, is super-lovely. Surrounded by hills, mountains and water, the locals are mostly proud of the table mountain which they consider to be one of the wonders of the world.
A visit to the CBD/downtown district summarizes the last 500years. You will see the judiciary and high courts where the racial classification was being held. Several tests were carried out to determine what race one belonged to either white, colored, black, and the most amusing is the honorary white race-this is for people who although do not have white features, say Asians, possess certain powers/connections that were useful to the white masters of the time. This category enables these non-white people to enjoy the privileges that would otherwise belong to the whites alone.
Within the same vicinity is the Grand parade, remarkable for having held 250,000 people in 1990, when Nelson Mandela gave his first speech after 27 years in prison which he centered on forgiveness.. It is said that majority of the whites locked themselves up in fear as the crowd seemed dangerous and intimidating. The end of apartheid did more than just liberate blacks from bondage but also whites were liberated from fear.
Castle of good hope the oldest surviving building in SA housed the Dutch soldiers and according to stories, it suffered attacks from the Cape mountain lions who predated on most of the soldiers. The Dutch were successful in extincting this species of lions.
The Waterfront district is a must-visit. Located not far from green point, it offers a very impressive shopping mall and ferries to Robben Island amongst others. Actually I took a boat cruise and just a few meters from the shore, I could see penguins, dolphins, seals, and even a few whales all doing their normal activities. They were close and so many that I could have held them in my hands if that were my goal.
Talking about animals, Capetown has the boldest animals in Africa. I saw several Baboons on my way to Cape Point, standing by the roadside looking on our bus. They are notorious for grabbing foods from people and you don’t want to fight back normally because they might harm you. Also the squirrels in the historic garden in CBD are known for climbing on people in order to collect food as well.
For the hipsters or hipster-wanna-be, Kloof street, that’s where I stayed, boasts of a billion (hyperbole, lol) young European tourists and you will be making friends even before you realize it. Long Street which is an extension of Kloof Street has a wonderful night life and Green Point also has several classy and affordable accommodation and entertainment.
Wine/Beer tasting is also one of the big cultures of the people of this region since wine farming is a major occupation here. Shark-diving for the bold and don’t forget the beaches as well including Camps Bay which is also considered an up-market beach.
Actually the whole of Cape Town will appeal more to you if you tend to like fancy stuff.
I tell you, if there were no crime in Johannesburg, it would be such a great and fun-filled place to live in. Such exciting places as the Apartheid Museum an architectural consortium depicting the rise and fall of apartheid and presenting Mandela as a leader, comrade, negotiator, prisoner and statesman. A visit is fundamental for all Joburg tourists.
Next to the museum is Gold Reef City Casino. Actually on the other side of town is another World class casino MonteCasino that attracts over 9million visitors annually I found it’s fake sky concept to be very phenomenal. Its Sandton location is also famous for Sandton City mall, one of the most prestigious western-style shopping centers in Africa and also adjoins the Nelson Mandela Square. Also Melrose is a developing high end suburb of Joburg.
There is a lot more to see in Jobrug including the zoo, fourth venue Parkhurst and 7th street Melville for nice restaurants and bars.
Although Newtown is situated in Johannesburg’s inner city, I decided to give it a segment of its own because to me, it could represent a mini-Johannesburg.
The precinct offers a cheaper alternative for people who do not wish to spend much cash-Museum Africa which has no entrance fee is well outfitted similar to other standard museums and tells the apartheid story as well as, if not better than the apartheid museum itself.
Housed in the same Victorian-style building is the Market theatre where several performances are held year round.
Across the street is a historic workers’ museum/library. This used to be a hostel for black immigrant workers who worked in the mines and has been preserved as a tourist attraction. Admission is also free.
If you are looking for something for the kids, then visit the Sci-bono discovery Center. A fun science museum that has lots of cool scientific stuff and games that appeal to both kids and grown-ups alike. Thirty-five rands will get you in there ( as of August/Sep 2014).
I also visited the Hector Pieterson Museum which remembers the students who lost their lives in 1976 while protesting against the mandate that every pupil to be taught certain subjects in Afrikaans. Hector was only 12 or 13 years old.
I must conclude by saying that South Africa has a very rich cultural heritage, history, characteristic uniqueness and beauty compared to other African nations and sensational relaxing scenery that tourists usually enjoy. The temperate African nation has cashed in on its troubled past and has become for all, the rainbow nation indeed. Until my next blog, Nkosi sikeleli Africa.
Ogo Le Roi.