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Published: September 13th 2011
Episode 2 (11.9.11)
Blogged by Craig.
Hello everyone. We are safe and well and having an excellent time here in South Africa. We spent the past 3 days in Johannesburg - a city with a fearsome reputation but one in which we had a great time. Ross found a brochure about a stage show called Africa Omuja. We booked and went along. It was brilliant - with singing and dancing ranging from tribal - complete with drums, spears and shields, as well as vibrant gospel that made your hair stand on end. The singing and dancing, and performances were excellent.
The next day, we did a private tour of Soweto (which stands for SOuth WEstern TOwnships.) It is hard not to view such a tour as cultural vouyerism - white tourists gawking at poor black communities. But Soweto is a historically significant and culturally fascinating part of South Africa. We were humbled and fascinated by what we saw. Soweto has over 4 million people and is made up of many suburbs - we saw both desperately poor tin shacks as homes, and also average looking homes, and some very respectable millionaires homes. The student uprising of 1976 in Soweto marked the beginning of the end of the brutal apartheid regime. We bought some curios from local markets, but declined the bag of dried mopani worms. In Soweto, there were guys handing out fliers for local śpiritual doctors. One pamphlet was for a Dr Ali Babau, who could , quote,"´ćheck and tell you all your problems without you saying anything, using special ancestral powers.΅ Another flier advertised "Dr " Fahadi, who claimed to treat with 100% success the following: swollen bodies , bewitched people, bringing back lost lovers, unhappy marriages, AIDS, court cases, madness, unwanted pregnancies , vomiting, winning lotto and casino. His "surgery " was located in house number 18762A , behind Tobyś garage !
Overall, Soweto , and our local guide, were totally absorbing.
Then we went to the Apartheid museum, which randomly assigns each visitor a race - white or non-white. Bryan and Ross got Ẅhite"and entered via one entrance, while I got "Non-white"and was separated from them by wire fence for first part of the museum. The Museum is world class, and documents the South African nation, from early San people, through the Zulu and Boer wars and the rise and fall of apartheid. It was fascinating, confronting, apalling and ultimately uplifting, esp. The special Nelson Mandela exhibition.
One plaque at the end summed it up:
"Humanity was born in Africa. All people are ultimately African. "
En route back to our hotel in Melville, our guide took us through the Joburg CBD and Hillbrow. Not for the faint-hearted and not something to do without a guide. A seething mass of people and traffic. We stopped at a local shop that sold all manner of amazing things, including animal hooves hanging from the ceiling, roots and tubers and a whole baboon carcass that could be ground up on request for so-called medicinal purposes.
We spent our last night in Joburg at a great restaurant in Melville called Lucky Bean. Bryan and I had Jamaican Jerked Chicken with pineapple salsa and "dirty ΅ rice, which was delicious. Ross had seared ossie ostrich steak in teriyaki sauce. To our surprise, the ostrich had texture and taste more like beef/ lamb than chicken.
Overall, Joburg was fascinating. A rich cultural melting pot, with both unsafe and safe suburbs, and an experience that we will not forget anytime soon.
After Joburg, we cabbed it back to airport and hired a car for the 5 hour drive to Kruger national park. We have been here for three days and it is absolutely awesome, but that will form the next blog ( or seven).
That is all for now, we are off on an late arvo drive in our hire car before the camp gate closes at 6pm.
Craig ,Ross and Bryan.
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