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Has Joburg shaken off its "monstrous" image problem?

06 March 2012, 08:19

A Muslim man, living in Bosmont, once told me that he could take his whole family for an entire day on a shopping trip in Central Johannesburg back in 1978 without any fear of ever being robbed or killed.


US ambassador, Donald Gibbs,wrote last week:"In America one bad headline from South Africa can set back five years of good work in promoting the African continent".


A very lively British Airways steward also said:"We love Cape Town, but you know Joburg really scares us".


A British man bemoaned and refused to be his best friend's best man at his wedding in Joburg,because as he said "it would be accepting an invitation that would lead to my certain death".He is not first and only one to say something like that!


Has the reputation changed though for the gritty,bigger than New York,City of Johannesburg? Or is it perhaps too dangerous a thought to even contemplate a crime-free neighborhood in Johannesburg?


The Johannesburg Star newspaper once stated:


"Johannesburg has indeed achieved the dubious status of being the murder capital of the world. In 1992 Johannesburg and Soweto combined had 3 402 murders,about 9.3 murders per day, or one every 2 1/2 hours".


Has Joburg's grotty and unpleasant reputation of the 1990's been drooping behind its current and fast changing realities?


Take the African Fashion Week for example. It was hosted in 2011 right there on the Nelson Mandela Bridge between Braamfontein and the city centre of Joburg.Such a huge event,displaying most of Africa's talents,products and designs for marketing access, and hosted right there in a place called "the murder capital of the world" or that it was so dangerous "that it would lead to your certain death"?


You walk through any terrace bar in Joburg and what do you find?Oh hang on a minute its: Murder,rape,robbing-right?


Instead its the buzzing mix of beautiful and lovely twenty-year old women at one end having a laugh,giggling and sporty white men in shorts that's having chats with tastefully coiffed black women.


Joburg is teeming with the middle classes of South Africa who enjoy shopping for freshly cut cheeses,home baked oven pies,cocktails and oysters on ice. You put bad politics,bad news and divisive,abusive and violent rhetoric aside for just a moment and Joburg is living poof that a "rainbow nation" can and should flourish.


Yes City of Johannesburg has got its sordid,grubby and squalid corners galore,but so does Central London and so does New York City too,where I live. Give the city of Johannesburg a break.Joburg does have a certain energy about it out on its streets,with its art museums,coffee shops,glass-fronted restaurants with terraces and street markets galore.


Joburg is not as mean as some people would have you believe.It is South Africa's most prosperous city,the real hustle and bustle of South Africa with its 12,000 or so street traders whose operations in the CBD area of Johannesburg alone brings in an annual revenue of around 500 million rand into the economy.


It really is South Africa's industrial,commercial and financial power hub where you'll find the South African Stock Exchange,major banking groups,the nerve centre of our mining giants,the Chamber of Mines HQ,major insurance companies,retail arms,engineering firms and big construction companies.


Yes Cape Town is South Africa's most cosmopolitan city. The refuge and shelter of artists, liberals, gays, bohemians and dope smokers. Cape Town has the pure morning light embrace of the peninsula, the deep fog that settles on the bay and an architecture that seems rather older world than new. Cape Town has a sunlit hinterland of wine country where people luxuriate in tours and tastings.

But as the largest urbanized city in the whole of Africa,Johannesburg is generally considered a better city to live in than Cape Town. Although Capetonians will disagree with that.


Johannesburg has the largest man made forest in the world and they are aiming for going green bigtime. It's also easier to find work in Joburg than it is finding work in Cape Town!


Joburg is so much more prosperous city than Cape Town because it has no sense of "fair play" embedded into it. It's either you make it or it will break you kinda stuff in Joburg.


I once was told that Johannesburg is where you make your money and in Cape Town is where you go on holiday to spend it all. Also I once asked a newly married couple in the 1975 if they would ever settle in Cape Town and both of them replied that if they had done so where would they go on holiday in South Africa.

Joburg's wind swept streets are buzzing whether it be people heading for brunch or going for their shopping,despite the city's enduring crime levels it is trying very hard to shake off its gruesome image.




1.AFP News/AllAfrica.


2.BBC News.


3.Afrique en Ligue.


4.Johannesburg Attractions.


6.Reuters Africa.


7.Bloomberg News.

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