I’m from the best city in the world.
One Sunday – after a terribly assignment-intensive week (nothing worthwhile ever came easy), and a weekend to unwind in kind – I found myself with a group of friends. We had breakfast at “trendy” Maboneng, then en-route home thereafter we missed a turn. This is the time when most people plug the co-ordinates of their desired location into their phone and ‘Hazzah!’ you’re home. Not us, no. The spirit of adventure was rife and we decided to go where the wind took us – or the petrol tank of that trusted Tata Indica (nobody accused us of being rich). We went deeper into Kensington, the part thereof that wasn’t too familiar to us,and found a petrol station. We bought water and Marlboros, and did a U-turn to a hill that we had admired while driving to the station. We would climb this hill and take great photos at its apex. We drove up to the hill, under my direction because I was familiar with this part of Kensington. On the “koppie”, were the quaintest of houses, and one of them was owned by a friend’s family. We parked in front of said friend’s house and started up the hill. It is then that Liz – said friend’s mom – called out to me, “Scotty, is that you?” I responded, pleasantries were exchanged, and she told us to keep our cellphones and belongings with her, because the hill was notorious for muggings. We obliged, and went up the hill.
The view was breathtaking, so much so that we went back to get one of our phones and take amazing photos, selfies, portraits, and every other modern expression of photographic prowess imaginable. We had a blast. From our incline on the hill, we saw the CBD juxtaposed the rocky slope that is the heart of Johannesburg. At that moment, we were reminded of how amazing our city is. The central business district, a place most people avoid because of criminals, drugs, general bad upkeep, you name it. From that vantage point, none of that was visible. All we saw was human indevour – that ingenuity that makes us great. We saw Ponte Tower, fifty-something floors of pure penthouse living, that has gone from epitomizing wealth to harbouring dirt and is now seeing a transformation by virtue of housing families and artists alike. We saw that, and we fell in love with the dynamic nature of the city. We saw the Telkom Tower, Transnet Building, banking and mining districts that refused to leave the CBD when the going got tough. We saw all of that, and we fell in love with the city all over again. Not because of how beautiful it is becoming – it doesn’t get more fashionable than Maboneng – but because how, even through its worst times it remained The City of Gold.
Johannesburg, eGoli, Jozi, Jo’burg, whatever you decide to call it, that’s the best city in the world. Cities go through times of decrepitude. It’s during these times that hipsters buy cheap property and we get hipster coffee shops and eateries, and gentrification occurs. That’s a crude way of looking at it, but it pretty much sums it up. Johannesburg has kept some of its “rustiness”, visit Braamfontein and you’ll see what I mean. That makes it all the more appealing. So get to know your city, and if you hate the traffic, grab a taxi. We all know they don’t suffer traffic