Jozi, Jo'burg... whatever!

Trip Start Jun 07, 2010
Trip End May 11, 2011

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Ghandi's Backpackers

Flag of South Africa  , Gauteng,
Sunday, December 19, 2010

Our final leg of Africa has brought us to South Africa. Now on the home straight you would have thought you can put your feet up but if you were to believe everything about the reputation here, then South Africa is certainly not a place to let your guard down, especially not in Johannesburg.

The troubles that this place has gone through are well documented but when the first thing someone says to you is that they are going to put you in the boot of their car and then drive you into the middle of Soweto... you can only assume that the locals here have no pride in where they are from and no desire to change the opinion of outsiders.

The stereotypes are that the blacks are poor and violent, and the whites are rich and scared. The truth is yes, there remains to be some extremely poor parts of South Africa with the obvious ones like the townships of Soweto such as the one that we saw which was just a collection of tin shacks that hadn't had any electricity since settling in 1994. Poor it might, but from what we've seen in other parts of Africa, it certainly is not an exception.

However, in other parts of Africa, it is poor and that is the end of the story. Here, there is still plenty of money floating around and yes, the distribution of wealth is a little questionable so the answer seems to be to resort to violent crime.

Mandela may have done a dam fine job of fixing this country but the perspective does seem to be that most are quite happy to feel hard done by whereas elsewhere they will try and sell just about anything in order to make a few bucks. What South Africa went through was horrific but really and truly after twenty years it's time for South Africans to grow up.

However, a visit to the infamous townships of Soweto can be quite insightful. Even living in the aforementioned tins with no electricity, apparently these people have decided to stop feeling sorry for themselves and try to earn some money the good old fashioned legit way.

Apparently it's only a minimal few who are hellbent on maintaining South Africa's violent reputation. Having seen life going by quite peacefully in Soweto, it does make you think that the place is a little less intimidating than people would want you to think.

In truth Johannesburg is a bit of a nothing city. It's a bit ugly and unappealing. I'm sure it could be argued that if you stick around you will witness its true character... but where doesn't that apply to?!

It's draw is it's history and it's role in beating apartheid. And it seems that it was incredibly important. Johannesburg may have been a last minute change of plan, and we may have changed our minds about this place by the minute but if it's been anything, it's been interesting.
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