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Published: April 1st 2011
Ive now been in Joburg for 2 weeks and its a very diverse city....
The only things you ever hear about the city is that it is very dangerous and you shouldn't visit, as you are likely to get mugged, stabbed, shot or raped...or a combination!
When I landed, i knew nothing except what id been told about the city (the negative things...). So I was very apprehensive to begin with.
I was met off the Gautrain (a train that runs from the airport into Sandton (the very nice, expensive area in the middle of the city)) by Rashid, the taxi driver. As he drove me to where I was staying he showed me some parts of the city...except for the weather and the beggars there is very little that is different to London or Manchester. It is nothing like i had expected from a city with the reputation that it has!
When we got to the area that Joburg Backpackers is in, I was amazed that i was still in a city! Everywhere you look are trees and parks/open grassland! with long roads surrounded by Large houses (as are most of the suburbs that ive seen here).
Very small shacks
has every type of restaurant that you could want, from Thai, Japanese and Indian to Pizza and KFC! and they were mostly all along a straight road that runs through the middle of Greenside (the suburb). To get to them it was a 5/10 minute walk, and even at night it was safe to walk to (even though guides and other people say to never walk around Joburg alone Ever...especially at night) nearly everything that you need is within walking distance, shops, supermarkets and restaurants!
The only things that remind you of where you actually are, are the gunshots you can here at night! mainly from the Hillbrow area! (the one place no white person should ever go to) this is where the reputation of Joburg mainly comes from! The CBD is also another area not to go to unless your familiar with it, as its close to Hillbrow and also prone to muggings!
Since ive been here, ive had a tour of the City, where I saw Soccer City (the main stadium for the 2010 world cup) the De Beers Diamond mines/HG, the CBD, Sandton, Melrose Arch and the Apartheid Museum!
The Apartheid Museum recalls the
Small house (Matchbox houses)
history of Apartheid, right from the very beginning, and as it moves into the more prominent years (1970s +) each section is split into decades, and recalls what happened in this period, it also has a section on how it was to be a native during this time! As well as the main exhibition there is a small temporary exhibition about Nelson Mandela, from when he was born in a small village, right through his life untill today!
I also did a tour of Soweto (South West Township) the biggest Township in South Africa, it is also the oldest! With a population of around 4.5million people! it is like a city within a city! What i found most interesting about it, is how economically diverse it really is! When I think of a township i think of very small, cramped tin/wooden houses, but Soweto is very very different!
It has area's covered in very small tin shacks, but it also has extremely big houses, which would fit very happily in Greenside. The residents range from extremely poor to millionaires (Winnie Mandela (Nelsons ex-wife) and Desmond Tutu still have houses/live in Soweto). The millionaires have the money to live anywhere
in the city but they have chosen to stay in Soweto, as to the people from there it has a very strong bind, it is part of the Black history of South Africa, Many of the Bloodiest times in Apartheid happened in Soweto, and the people that live there will never forget that. One such example is the Regina Mundi Church, its a place where people (i.e. Mandela, Sisulu and Tutu) used to hide, and during the student uprisings 5000students went into the church and became surrounded by the police, the bullet holes still remain in the roof, and you can still see where a police man broke the corner off of the marble Alter when they tried to get the students out.
Joburg is a really nice city to visit, as long as you speak to the locals, and take their advice, and dont make yourself stick out, you will be fine! The reputation the city has outside of South Africa really dosn't do it justice! if you stay in the right areas you will not encounter any problems!
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