Sunday, 26 April 2009


Due to budget and time constraints this month, I decided to do something a little different. The last time I toured Johannesburg city was in my first year as a student at the Rand Afrikaans University (now called the University of Johannesburg) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I decided to return for a brief tour, walking through the streets of a city that is usually considered to be dangerous, so much so that very few locals will trudge through on foot.

It's not that Johannesburg isn't's as dangerous as most cities, like New has its dodgy areas etc and of course there'll be areas where you can't be traipsing around all by your onesy savvy. But in all the time I've spent in and out of the city, nothing tragic has occurred.

For first time visitors I'd have to say, travel in groups preferably with someone who is street smart and knowledgeable of the place (like me), don't be too paranoid but be alert and careful. And whatever you do, DONT look like a tourist.

I love the city. I love the vibe you get in the city…it’s like you can feel your pulse mesh with energy that’s generated from the life flowing in and out of the busy streets. I'm a city girl, born and bred and that much was evident when I made my way in the cold morning through various streetside stalls, shops, department stores and little mini malls.

The proliferation of Malls in South Africa from the mid 1990's meant that less people frequent the increasingly dangerous city and it's surrounds and opted for the safer and more convenient “all-in-one” that the Malls tend to offer. In the Gauteng Province, we have around 20 Malls, strategically placed all over the province, in and around Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Street Vendors selling vegetables on the sidewalk:

The mosque in which my grandfather served as Imaam for a number of years:

Nothing like hitting the road with the girls, early in the morning:

Doing girly things like go to Woolworths and check out the clothes/makeup and food :P

Melrose Arch:
I know a lot of people consider Sandton to be the new “city”…and I do love Melrose Arch, but with that tinge of bourgeois pretentiousness that hangs in the air, I have to disagree. It’s more like an elite wannabe.

Jo’burg is still Jo’burg for me, and always will be. I was impressed by the concerted “city cleanup” effort and how they had progressed since the last time I was there. There are so many new contemporary structures, and older structures seem to be restored or renovated. I still have hope one day my city will be restored to it’s former glory.

I’ve taken a few pics with a camera phone because Sony is still keeping my baby hostage. However, it does no justice and cannot capture the atmosphere and the vibe of the place. I’ve had to borrow some pics from google too.


  1. I visited Jo-Burg about 6 years ago. The people who met me at the airport drove armored Mercedes Benz autos with flame throwers that blasted out from each side in event of trouble. I thought it was overkill but I was there at their request and they were paying ME so it wasn't as though I was paying a high fee for the service. They assured me the precautions were necessary. Because of that the trip wasn't all that fun.

    As soon as I sat in the seat in the back of the car, one of the guys handed me an H & K MP5K (shorty submachine gun). I asked, "Do I really need to pack THIS?"

    Yes, they assured me.

    Now I find out that little Azra simply gets in a car with a friend or two and goes everywhere and takes photos.

    Doesn't sound all that bad.

  2. lol... come on LL, ur serious?

    ok so we're a little streetwise, but heck, i have never laid eyes on a machine gun :) of course its not all disney land. crime laces the city as does poverty, disease and that thing called hope. people feed off each. life thrives.

    azra, lovely pics hun! i love the energy that makes jozi the city that it is... and i really would not want to give up the independence of gettin in my car and going places in jhb. just probably not alone at 2am kinda thing.

  3. wow, this is really Joburg??? Its NOTHING like I expected.. its like NY, only looks cleaner!!!


  4. ooh i love jhb! i miss my city-will def be showing these pics to my friends

    oh gosh-i never cease to e irritated by the 'armoured vehicle, don't leave your house, carry a gun' remarks.

  5. I wish I had more of a chance to explore our cities. Every city has this unique vibe about it which I crave.... unfortunately for us we tend to live in suburbs and hang around in malls and tend to skip the vibrancy of an inner city life. I know its a little more difficult in SA to experience it because well lets face it.... there are a few more dangers lurking in our inner cities than other places but it would be great if we could.

  6. LL - lol, it sounds like they were very paranoid. the key is to blend in, not stand out lol...were you some kind of diplomat? All the security is so suspicious...I've never heard of it before. It really isnt that bad at all.

    KS - wouldnt want to prowl the streets after dark all by your lonesome...but int he day, its quite vibrant and cool. And if there are others that can join in the explorations, the more the merrier and safer too :P

    Ms Ish - A journalist from the USA once described JHB as New York in 1985. There are parts of the city that still need to be restored but there has been a massive clean-up campaign over the years so its cool. Still room for improvement though.

    Bibi-Aisha - I tell everyone they should be careful and alert, but not paranoid. I spent a great deal of time in the city in 2000 when I was living in Fordsburg.

    Edge- You should go and explore with your's honestly not that bad :P

  7. I remember taking a Taxi to the SkyRink in Jhb during high-school...good times.
    The pictures are beautiful, girl---thatks for making me appreciate the beauty of our city :-)

  8. TCQ - I used to go to the skyrink too :)

  9. u make my beloved country look freaking gorgeous!

  10. definately on my to-do list. thanks for the heads up