Wednesday, April 16, 2008

City of Gold

It's Joburg's (short for Johannesburg) turn today, also called Egoli - Place (City) of Gold. This precious metal was discovered here in 1886 by George Harrison (no, NOT the Beatle, but an Australian), who accidentally (!!) stumbled across an outcrop of conglomerate rock, which (as an amateur geologist) he recognised as bearing gold - it was lying there right on the surface! The city was named though after Johannes Rissik and (Christopher) Johannes Joubert, two (mining) commissioners, who confirmed Harrison's claim.

The view in this photo is from the "Top of Africa" (50th floor of the Carlton Centre - open to the public at a small fee) and directs the eye to the west of the city. Visible in the background are gold-slime-dams (instead of the original "dry" mine dumps), behind which Soweto (acronym for South Western Township) is situated.

This modern construction spans railway lines (instead of a river) on the way to Newtown (Down-Town Joburg). The bridge is named for our most famous citizen and the "saviour" of our country - (Nelson) Rolihlahla Mandela.

A photo of Down-Town Joburg (right) as reflected in the glass of what was once called the De Beers Diamond Building - 11 Diagonal Street. We also tend to call it the "glass tent", and its design is based on the 58 facets of a diamond.

The skyline of Joburg (left) -

as seen from the Apartheid Museum, where the 7 pillars at the entrance to the museum symbolise on what our NEW constitution is based: democracy, reconciliation, equality, diversity, responsibility, respect and freedom.

The Apartheid Museum is situated at Gold Reef City, which is centred on a historic mineshaft. It's a living museum, featuring a theme (Victorian architecture) and an amusement park.

The historic mineshaft, No 14, opened in 1887 but after about a century, closed down. Now, it's a tourist attraction, where visitors can watch a gold bar being poured, other than embarking on a "journey" underground.

This photo (left) was taken at Constitution Hill (at the site of the old fort in Hillbrow), which includes the Constitutional Court. Visitors can embark on a guided tour through the various prisons, in which political prisoners
(during the Apartheid years) were housed side-by-side with hardened criminals (black and white, males and females, separately). A visit to the past here is a very emotional experience, especially with regard to the detestable conditions, which black prisoners had to endure. "Let's not forget"..... so that never again, will people discriminate against others on the basis of race.

Although Pretoria is known as the "Jacaranda City", many streets in Joburg are also lined with Jacaranda trees (as this one in the suburb of Houghton) - the Jacaranda-flowers start blooming during early summer (the month of September heralds spring in this country).

A view of "country-style living" conditions in Joburg (right). People who can afford it, live in suburbs such as this.

Trivia: Joburg, with its millions of trees, is known as the city with the largest man-made forest in the world. Now that's a great distinction and a welcome contrast to the otherwise infamous label of Joburg only being a city riddled by crime.

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