Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Oh Jozi, my Jozi (with love from Durban)

The colours, the contrasts - on every single level of this city (Jo'burg) and the people that throng its streets - inspire and intrigue me.Despite sitting at a favourite early morning coffee shop in Umhlanga (my car's in for its first service), and it being a stunningly beautiful coastline day (beneath a crisp blue sky, there's not a single cloud in the sky, I can see seemingly sedate Durban 20 kms away, then the solid olive-green-velvet Bluff), this post is about Johannesburg aka Jo'burg, Jozi, Egoli... the city of gold.

While I know it's winter up there on the Highveld (oh do I have firsthand experience of those!) what I so relish about life on this magnificent stretch of coastline is the climate: every single day I wear shorts and slip slops (I think these are called thongs elsewhere in the world). In fact in my rush  to get down here from Jozi on 25 April I somehow forgot to pack any shoes besides my one pair of 'smart' shoes for when I facilitate, have a job interview, or interview the president, and my cheap Chinese-made slip slops.

But back to Jozi: 2Summers is a mostly Johannesburg-centric blog that I've been following, and thoroughly enjoying for a while now. In the blogger's own words here's a little more about 2Summers:

"My name is Heather Mason and I'm an American living in Jozi. ("Jozi" is the local slang term for Johannesburg. We also call it Joburg.)"I'm 38 years old. I moved to Jozi from Washington D.C. in August 2010, at the end of the American summer and the beginning of the South African summer. That's why I decided to call the blog 2Summers. I've just finished my third summer in South Africa so the name doesn't make that much sense anymore. It's too late to change it though."

Heather is passionate about Jo'burg. She has helped hold up the mirror to countless people so that they are able to see the city through other eyes, and have thus hopefully had the scales fall away from their eyeballs:

"I've developed a passion for Joburg that I've never felt for any other place. I love exploring this wacky city, which is unlike any other city in the world. I love walking Jozi's streets and discovering places that most lifelong Jozi-ites don't know about about. I love showing the world that despite its negative reputation, Joburg is a great place to live in and to visit. Surf around my blog for a while and you'll see what I mean."

In her most recent post, yesterday, she's got some more great photos of this great city, and makes some points about people's warped perceptions, which she writes is mostly rooted in ignorance:

"I try not to get upset when people refer to Johannesburg as "dangerous", or "dirty", or "ugly". Such attitudes do Joburg a huge disservice, but they usually come from a place of ignorance rather than malice. Most of the people who say these things probably haven't been into downtown Jozi for years, if ever. And they don't realize what they're missing.

"I suppose one could argue — in certain specific instances — that Joburg can be dangerous. One could even argue that some parts of Joburg are dirty. (Although most of the city is actually quite clean.)"But…ugly? Nope. Not ever."

I've always made a point of immersing myself in the places that I visit or live in; I believe in getting out on foot and with a camera, and to approach every minute as if I'm a tourist in my own life. Live in the now. Open your eyes.

I am determined that my heart should always be wide open to life.

No comments: