Wow! what is it with Jozi at the moment? So much positive press from all sorts of different quarters. From no 1 cycle route, to an up-and-coming art hub to a new spin on the level of violence – Joburg is being praised and flaunted as an interesting and vibrant city. Although Joburg will always be too gritty, fast paced and jittery to be swan-like, maybe it is beginning to grow out of it’s ugly duckling phase.
Liz at Lancaster hosts several guests who come back to South Africa regularly for research or consultancy work, many of whom say that although Cape Town is wonderful to visit, Jozi is the place they prefer to stay. Recently, two very different articles have addressed Jozi’s positives and why, despite the traffic, an inept municipality and perceptions of crime (more of that below), Joburg is still a great place to be. As John Simpson says in his article in the Daily Telegraph (28 Oct 2103): ‘Jozi is noisy challenging and full of life’. While acknowledging that crime rates are way higher than they should be, he puts the general perception of safety in Joburg in a more realistic context: ‘Johannesburg isn’t like Kinshasa, where you congratulate yourself every time you get back to your hotel in safety; it’s a lovely, open, green garden city, where everyone smiles and treats you nicely.’ For the full article see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/luxury/travel/9847/john-simpson-in-praise-of-johannesburg.html
Tim Murphy explores Jozi’s pockets of cool in http://www.wmagazine.com/culture/travel/2012/09/johannesburg-south-africa-emerging-fashion-scene/ For him, Jozi ‘feels like a hectic, history-scarred city full of hustle and optimism that’s brashly shouldering its way into the global arena.’ But he continues … ‘it’s remaining intensely African, bursting with immigrants from all over the continent in a way that Cape Town, South Africa’s post-colonial tourism darling, simply is not. …. Milisuthando Bongela, who writes the blog Miss Milli B and co-owns Mememe, a clothing boutique that sells local labels, put it this way: “I can still be the only black person in a restaurant in Cape Town. Whereas in Jo’burg, people like me own the restaurants.” ‘
Murphy writes with passion about the creatives and the avant-garde and about the pockets of urban regeneration in Braamfontein, 44 Stanley St and the Maboneng precinct. But his article ends on a cautionary note that (as with many metropolitan cites) you still need to watch your back when moving after dark on your own through quiet streets.
And for 21 reasons why Jozi is a great place … 21 reasons in pics … see http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/south-africa/130819/21-reasons-love-johannesburg
And as if this isn’t enough, readers of the English paper the Guardian have listed the Braamfontein cycle route as no 1 of 10 city cycle routes world-wide. http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2013/nov/11/city-cycle-tours-readers-travel-tips And Joburg comes in at no 5 of the 12 Cities that will ‘Shake Up The Art World In The 21st Century’ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/19/art-cities-of-the-future_n_3949998.html
Interestingly, there is still a persistent and prevailing perception that Jozi is ‘more dangerous’ than Cape Town. While clearly crime levels are unacceptably high in Joburg, in a study of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban, all rank higher that Joburg which squeezes in at no 50. (Not exactly a list a city is proud to make.) In 2012 a Mexican think tank — the Citizens’ Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice — released a study ranking the world’s most violent cities The ranking was based on murder rate per capita in 2011. All top 20 cities were based in South America and of the 50 cities, 14 were in Brazil and 11 in Mexico. (No wonder the Mexicans were so relaxed when they came to Joburg for the Soccer World Cup in 2010 which, as it turned out, was to be the most peaceful World Cup in history!) Four of the 50 cities on the list are in the U.S. (New Orleans at no 21; Detroit at no 30; St Louis at no 43 and Baltimore at no 48). And in South Africa, Cape Town ranks no 34; Port Elizabeth no 41 and Durban no 49. There seems to be some error with Johannesburg’s figures though as they are the same as Durban’s which is clearly incorrect. However, despite this, it makes for interesting reading www.businessinsider.com/most-dangerous-cities-in-the-world-2012-10