Tag Archives: South Africa

Goal #49: Our housewarming party

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Ah, now I know we are well and truly HOME! 🙂

Ninja and I finally managed to arrange our housewarming party, two months after we’d moved into our new place. It took the format of a tea party in the garden, because there was no way to squeeze 20-odd visitors inside our little cottage! In answer to prayer it was a gorgeous day out – clear blue Joburg winter skies; windstill and sunny – and so wonderful to have our dear friends gathering at our new address.

Continue reading…

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OK, I’m revolting!

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It’s true.

"Hmmm... you are revolting, Mommy!"

“Hmmm… you are revolting, Mommy!”

I’m revolting against the beauty products I’ve been using up to now.

Thanks to recent chats with a good friend and hours of research about the junk that I’ve been slathering on my skin all these years, I’m making some drastic changes to my skincare and haircare products.

I’m tired of paying good money to buy lotions and potions containing dozens of ingredients that can actually harm my body. Often these products have also harmed a few lab animals before they got to me, and will harm the environment again after I’m done with them.

Some of these ingredients I can’t even pronounce! And it’s not just my cosmetics – it goes for food too. But for now I’m starting on a healthier path by making changes to my beauty products first.

I can’t believe I left it so long before I began questioning what goes into the things I buy. But thanks to a tip-off from my savvy friend, I discovered a wonderful solution: Faithful to Nature. Here’s a South African online store that sells a phenomenal range of natural, organic, eco-friendly and cruelty-free products. From healthy foodstuffs to natural skincare and everything in between, Faithful to Nature has made it a breeze for me to begin changing over to a greener lifestyle.

I placed my first order with them last week, and it arrived in record time. In each package the FtN team includes a few samples of other natural products you might like to try… and I just love that. Unwrapping all the goodies felt like my birthday! I was super impressed with FtN’s friendly and efficient service – so much so that I spent the next few days browsing their site again, and placed my next order shortly after!

One of the best products I tried in my first order was the Credé coconut oil. Mmmm… never did I imagine that I could walk around smelling like my favourite cocktail! Coconut oil (CO) is often in the green news these days, with health gurus lauding its use in cooking and as a natural beauty product.

Now my poor Ninja was so put off by the coconut everything that we ate when I was doing the 21-day sugar detox, that I haven’t risked adding this oil to our meals (as yet)! But as a moisturiser and a conditioner it has no equal. I used it as a hair mask overnight (be sure to cover your pillow with an old towel if you try it) and it helped revive my poor overworked hair.

I’ve also been using it daily as a marvellous moisturiser for my skin. (My ratties are quite delighted that I taste so good these days; in the pic above Voddy and Teddy are licking off all my CO handcream!) Next I plan to test the theory that coconut oil is even great for shaving. I’m so stoked about this product. It’s easily and quickly replaced my previous chemical body lotions.

Anyway, so that’s a little snippet of what I’ve been up to of late. I’m excited about changing over to healthier choices, and glad that the Faithful to Nature team has worked so hard to make affordable and varied options available. I still have a long way to go with this journey, but you can be sure I’ll be sending you postcards of my progress 🙂

What’s a goal if you can’t change it?

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Water lily

As mentioned in my previous post, here are the goals on my 101 things in 1001 days list that I feel need to change so that my goals reflect my new circumstances more closely…

#11: Grow my hair to my waist – I’ve outgrown this goal, I reckon. My hair was waist length when I was younger, and it was lovely and all, but I don’t think it’s ‘me’ anymore. I’m happy with the short crop I have for now. We’ll see!

#13: Get a belly button piercing – I should’ve done this a decade ago. It’s a bit corny to do it now. And I don’t need it anymore in order to feel sexy 😉

#19: Go horseback riding on the beach – I definitely still want to do this one day, but I live far from the beach and I don’t foresee I’ll afford a holiday anytime soon. So I’m moving this to my ‘someday’ goals list.

#21: Go for a walk in a forest – No forests nearby… moving this to my someday list.

#28: Go on a road trip – Like I said, no holidays expected anytime soon! Someday…

#31: Go camping – Well, we’ll be selling our tent before we’ve used it even once, because we need the dosh. Doubt this will ever come up again, so I won’t put this on my someday list.

#32: Go to a concert – There’s nothing wrong with this goal, but I’ve been to concerts before, so why am I just repeating myself? Besides, it’s pretty rare for bands I like to hit SA, so this can happily go on my someday list, to be fulfilled ‘if and when’.

#36: Go vegetarian for a month – You know, I’ve just realised I don’t want this enough. I still want to eat fish, chicken and the occasional slice of pastrami. And yes I know that it’s pretty impossible to claim to be cruelty free if you still eat animals, but there’s just too much else going on in my life right now. I can’t face the thought of fundamentally changing my diet and cooking on top of all the other major life changes going on at the moment. At best I can make gradual changes over time in this area. I also want to make gradual changes towards more natural, healthy and cruelty-free cosmetics choices too… but that’s a thought for another post 🙂

#47: Do a punk photoshoot – It has taken and is taking me a long time to let go of my awesome punk years! But I think it’s time for this goal to finally go. This goal is only here because I was longing for my past instead of looking forward to my future.

#51: Spend a day without technology – Hah! There’s no need for me to have this as a goal. Our national power supplier (Eskom) will arrange it for me!

#57: Go to Sun City – I don’t know if I should take this off the list or not. Part of me says there’s no way we’ll afford it during this next season of our lives, but the other part (plus my husband!) says it’s still worth aiming for, even for a day trip… someday…

#60: Go on holiday with friends – Can’t go on holiday for the foreseeable future. With or without friends. M’kay?

#67: Visit Namaqualand in flower season – Someday!

#71: Holiday in the Drakensberg – Sheesh, I really did dream big huh! Also moved to the someday list.

#72: Do a 30 x 30 challenge – You know, I tried valiantly to do this. But halfway through I realised that I’ll never stick to it, because for at least one week out of every 30 days, I feel far too unwell for exercise. Hint: Maybe I’ll attempt this one day after menopause! LOL 😀

#73: Get a zoom lens for my camera – Argh. I really wish I could. But I don’t know if I can justify the cost when we’re scraping together every cent to pay off our new home. So I’ll stick this on my someday list… but you can be sure it’ll be right near the top!

#74: Go on a boat ride – I’ve been on a boat ride! Gah! Can I just stop repeating old goals? Where’s my imagination?

#80: Visit Knysna Wolf Sanctuary – Be still, my heart. Someday, hopefully someday soon.

#82: Take the tourist bus around Cape Town – The which to do, I must needs get to Cape Town… someday…

#83: Go on holiday by bus – Someday

#84: Learn to touch type – Erm, shew… not all that inspiring! Striking through this one. If I do learn it one day, great, but it needn’t be on my fun goals list.

#86: Publish my best poems – Someday, when money allows.

#87: Spend a night in a fancy hotel – When money allows, I’d love to still do this too 

#101: Brainstorm an overseas trip – Why brainstorm something that could be light-years away? Rather just stick it on my someday list and plan it properly when it does finally seem to be a possibility.

Well, those are the changes. I’ll be taking the next few weeks to work on a new 101 list that works for my current season of life. And then I’ll share it with you, whether you want me to or not! Hehe 😉

Selah, South Africa

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© Wikimedia Commons

© Wikimedia Commons

The other day, in order to find a movie I hadn’t watched before that started with the letter ‘I’ (thanks to Goal #90 on my 101 things in 1001 days list), I hired Clint Eastwood’s ‘Invictus’. Yes, OK, I am a little late to the party! Most South Africans and even many foreigners will have watched that film long ago, but it had never held all that much interest for me before.

It’s the true story of how the then newly elected President Nelson Mandela used the beloved South African sport of rugby (formerly a ‘white’ sport and almost exclusively Afrikaans) to begin to unify South Africans. When we won the Rugby World Cup in 1995, it was an enormous achievement. It was also probably the first time that people of all our races began to hope that we might actually become a harmonious Rainbow Nation.

Clint Eastwood and his team did a fantastic job telling a story that I’d previously only heard bits and pieces of. (The film sure gives a better impression of South Africans than ‘District 9’ or ‘Elysium’ do! If or when you watch those movies, please don’t believe their take on South Africans. Gag!)

Anyway, the unexpected thing was that as I watched ‘Invictus’, I found myself unable to stop smiling. It started with a little chuckle at hearing Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon speak in South African accents (which they mimicked very well, but it’s always weird to hear how other nations think we sound!). But as the film progressed I couldn’t help smiling to see such a true reflection of so many aspects of South African culture and our complicated interracial interaction. Then at the end the winning of the rugby game was so infectious, my cheeks hurt from grinning so much.

Watching that film brought back memories of the 1994 elections and the 1995 rugby game. I was still a kid back then and thus not very involved in the fanfare that surrounded all the changes in our country. But I recall the craziness after our win on that field. The celebrating went on for weeks, and I didn’t need to leave home to be part of it. Around the neighbourhood and on the TV I heard and saw the jubilation. I remember it being quite ridiculous sometimes, with one van of rugby fans devotedly (and drunkenly) belting out, ‘We won because we won…!’

My family wasn’t into sport, but I remember even my parents being rather proud of the Springboks and their thrashing of New Zealand’s All Blacks. Words like ‘haka’ and ‘scrum’ suddenly made sense, and everywhere was the feeling that we’d done it. Not we, the whites. We, the South Africans. All of us. Indians, Coloureds, blacks, whites and everything in between… we’d done it as a nation, and shown the world after the long years of boycotting and trade embargoes that South Africa was a country full of fight and worthy of respect.

Weird how sport can do that.

Also weird how I felt nothing like that when the Soccer World Cup came to SA in 2010. Duuuude! If we thought the fans were nuts 15 years before, 2010 was insane! But I just wasn’t interested. My own little world was too busy and I was little more than irritated at all the fuss, traffic and noise. And how I hated those vuvuzelas! (I still do. On my unpatriotic days I think such a backward device could only have come from our messed-up country…)

You see, that’s the problem, and the next thought that I had as the credits to ‘Invictus’ rolled. It’s been a long time since the Rugby World Cup. A lot has changed. Of course the most recent and most memorable change is that Mandela has passed away. But over the last 19 years our country has slowly slid from its euphoric high of 1995 for other reasons too.

Our government officials become more corrupt with every passing year. Yes, I know there’s probably no such thing as an honest politician, but Jacob Zuma is another beast altogether. Tell me, when last was your president accused of rape, polygamy, corruption, hate speech, fraud and deliberate extortion of his people? The crime, the poor levels of education, the high costs of living, the new e-toll system and all the old underlying racial rifts make this a shaky nation at best.

The only reason this is on my mind at all is that we’re coming up for our national elections in a few months’ time. You can feel the pressure building everywhere. Oh, how we already miss the wise, humble ruling of good old Madiba. He wasn’t president for long enough, but even after his term had ended there was the sense that while he was still alive, maybe he’d keep this cultural melting pot from boiling over.

Now as we head for major elections, there’s a sense of dread among many South Africans that this could be the last chance for the opposition parties to overthrow (peacefully and democratically, we hope) the clowns who currently lead this land. If Zuma or someone like him gets to rule South Africa for another few years, fears are great that we’ll end up like our poor neighbour Zimbabwe did.

Hmmm. It doesn’t feel right to be posting about politics on my cheerful blog, does it?! It’s out of character for me to even care about these things, really, because I have very little interest in politics of any kind. I just want to live my simple quiet life and leave the ruling of the country up to someone else. But of course I understand that I have to play a part in choosing that ruler, too.

Selah, South Africa – pause and consider.

It’s a good time to watch ‘Invictus’, I think. We all need the reminder that this country can achieve the seemingly impossible. This country needs another miracle election; another watershed change that will begin to reverse the damage that Zuma and his cronies have done. We don’t want the old white government back – everyone knows by now that that won’t work anymore – but neither can we stand the ongoing worry that this country is currently led by men who just don’t know what they’re doing!

In the end, within the limited sphere of my life I can do only three things to make any difference in what happens to this country.

I can cast my vote at the next elections, knowing it counts.

I can aim for kindness and understanding in my daily dealings with South Africans of all races.

And above all, I can pray fervently for this beautiful land, knowing that ultimately it is God who makes or breaks rulers and places them where He wants them in order to fulfil His specific purposes in history.

Ah, how everlastingly peaceful and beautiful and just His reign will be one day when His kingdom comes!

On the passing of Mandela

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I suppose the news from the southern tip of Africa must have reached your shores by now: Nelson Mandela passed away last week. And it’s possible that you might be wondering how it’s affected me, seeing as I’m South African and all.

But I must say, I’ve been hesitant to add my voice to the millions out there already bemoaning his fate and singing his praises. At times like these I’m always wary of the tightrope of saying either too little or too much…

The short version is: to me, Madiba’s passing is big news, but it’s not life-altering news. It hasn’t completely rocked my world or upset my schedule or kept me up at night. I haven’t shed a single tear, and can’t force myself to either.

Yet that doesn’t mean I’m indifferent to his legacy or his effect on my country.

The problem is that I’m too young to remember personally the horrors of apartheid. I grew up in the non-segregated New South Africa. All I recall of that watershed election of South Africa’s first black president was that people were nervous. No one knew how it would turn out, or at least that was the undercurrent I picked up from the adults around me.

It also doesn’t help that I have less than zero interest in politics. It took a long time for me to learn about what Mandela and the other black South Africans suffered under apartheid. I remember finally reading Long Walk to Freedom and being horrified at what previous generations had gotten away with. But by the time I had realised that, it seemed the patched-up Rainbow Nation was well on its way to recovery anyway.

Only much later could I look back at the facts and see how vital Nelson Mandela was in bringing about that relatively peaceful change from white supremacy to multiracial equality.

And now that pivotal role player is done with this short slice of his eternity, and everyone has something to say about it.

On the one hand I feel I have no right to throw in my two cents’ worth, considering that this was all a bit before my time. But on the other hand there is truth in what people say, that Tata Madiba did what he did (amazingly!) for all the people of South Africa.

Unlike the presidents before and after him, he made it clear that no matter our skin colour, we all have equal value because of our shared humanity and our heritage in this beautiful country. His goal wasn’t supression of whites to get revenge for the oppression of blacks.

In that way, I respect what he did and I’m grateful that God used this freedom fighter in such a way that even I, as a whitey, can reap the benefits of his long, hard struggle for South Africa. He certainly deserves his title as ‘father of our nation’.

But as I close, I must admit there’s another side to all of this too. For one thing, I’m slightly incredulous at how devastated so many people seem to be by Madiba’s death. As if it took them by surprise. As if we hadn’t had ages to prepare ourselves for the inevitable passing of a weak, tired, sick old man. Did they really think he was going to live forever?

And I’m more than a little uncomfortable with the virtual deification of this man. Honour and respect and lament is definitely his due, but worship is not. Mandela was after all just a human like the rest of us. Not a saint, not a god. He was sinful and in need of a saviour just like you and me.

So I’m trying to keep that in perspective as the world mourns his passing and celebrates his successes. I like the way Albert Mohler has put it in his blog post on the topic; I couldn’t have summed it up better myself 🙂

Nibbling at the goalposts

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I’m sure I’ve said this before, but some achievements come in little steps. Recently I’ve nibbled away at a few more achievements on my list of 101 goals.

For Goal #54 I decorated my hand with a new design in henna, as you know I enjoy mehndi designs like this:

Goal #54b - henna

Goal #54b – henna

And to chip away at Goal #55, I recently got two new button badges for my special hat.

Goal #55 - button badges

Goal #55 – button badges

Ninja won the cute smiley face badge for me during a recent date night at the games arcade, and the floral badge I bought at a super South African craft market called Kamers vol Geskenke (lit. ‘rooms full of gifts’) 🙂

Speaking of Kamers, I discovered another great find there… but that’s for the next post.

Highveld storm season

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The start of a storm

The start of a storm

That’s not a nuke test you see in that pic; that’s a typical exquisite cumulonimbus building up in preparation for a storm. Actually, that’s just a small part of the cloud formation – it was all I could squeeze in the frame.

We’ve been seeing quite a few clouds like that one now that Johannesburg’s summer storm season has burst upon us in full force. Allow me to share with you the adventure of a Highveld summer storm…

…oOo…

It usually starts with a blazing hot day in the middle of summer. You’ve barely started work and your skin is already shiny before the clock hits 9 a.m. You’re based in an airconditioned office, though, so at first you don’t notice that the temperature is still rising.

At midday you pop outdoors for your lunch break and wham! the sun fries any part of you it sees. The shade isn’t even a relief anymore. You treat yourself to an ice cream (maybe) because, well, isn’t it just a gorgeous day… but your discomfort sends you back to the artificially cooled office pretty quickly.

By about 2 o’clock you look out the window to observe that huge white clouds are bubbling up into the sky, shining a blinding snowy white in the baking sunshine. The sky is still blue, but a bit of a breeze has picked up, and subconsciously you know what’s coming.

Around 3 p.m. the tension in the air outside has infected everyone. The wind is gusting more strongly now, and the pretty puffs of white have become ominous towers of grey and black. People start hurrying without realising it, just as the birds swirl and dive for shelter. It’s still hot, but you can feel the heat is about to break.

You race to your car the moment work ends, muttering how everyone (else) throws their driver’s licence out the window when the weather turns exciting. Join the queue of traffic and you sense a communal ripple through the hive: people hurrying to fetch their kids from school, wondering if they left the washing on the line, nervous about reaching shelter despite the comfort of their modern cars.

Then suddenly – splat! – a big fat droplet plops on your windshield. Splat! Splat! And whoooshhhhhhh! – the faucet opens full blast. The heat snaps, the visibility is zero, the air is warm and wet. Wiper blades swish and lights barely break through the waterfall as you crawl along on your homeward route.

And the thunder! Rolls and cracks and splits in the sky; lightning snaking out for the nearest hill or high point. A smash of thunder right above you makes you yelp. The heat of your breath mists up your car windows, so on goes the fan, since you can’t crack open a window without getting splattered.

If you’re lucky you might miss the hail this time (or it might miss you). If not, you’ll be stuck in your tin can in stop–go traffic with the hard white stones hammering down on you. Poor pockmarked car.

But the hail, like the heavy rain, doesn’t last that long. Within half an hour it’s over: the shower slows to a patter and the thunder rolls off to the horizon. Finally you make it home in one piece, thankful that you remembered to unplug all your valuable electronic goods the night before…

…oOo…

The great thing about Jo’burg’s summer rain is that it’s not like the stifling muggy humidity of Durban, where the warm Indian Ocean smothers the coast in low grey cloud blanket that traps the moist heat. Nor do we have the hot, persistent winds of Cape Town’s summer or the endless drizzle of their winter. No.

Jozi’s storms are electric and dramatic! They build up and blow up and often do damage… and then just as suddenly the clouds fall flat and float away, leaving behind sparkling sunshine and rainbows.

The world smells fresh and clean. The warm wet roads are left steaming after the downpour. Leaves and petals and bits of debris have been blasted against walls and windows, but the foliage that’s still intact twinkles with a thousand raindrops. The heat is gone and so is the tension of those enormous clouds. All the dirt of city life is washed away, and the evening draws to a close with the songs of crickets and frogs filling the air.

Crispy savoury homemade crackers

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We call them biscuits here in South Africa, actually. But I think what Americans call biscuits are more like puffy scones to us, so I thought I’d go for ‘crackers’ instead.

Anyway, the point is: here’s a recipe for the easiest, crunchiest, thinnest, spiciest savoury crackers you’ll ever make at home… courtesy of my dear mom’s collection of recipes from years of kitcheneering 😉

Four main ingredients

Four main ingredients

Crispy savoury crackers

Ingredients

1 C cake/all-purpose flour

2.5 ml salt

1 ml pepper (1 ml? Seriously? Why not just say a pinch?)

1 ml cayenne pepper (or more if you like it hot)

15 ml butter

1/2 C cheddar cheese, finely grated (I like mature cheddar for this)

Cold water

Method

1. Sift together dry ingredients in a bowl.

2. Rub in the butter.

3. Add the cheese and just enough water to make a stiff dough. (Add it bit by bit and ‘cut’ it gently into the flour with a knife.)

NB: Avoid any unnecessary kneading and pressing. This is the only tricky part of the recipe. Your dough should be dry-ish to the touch but sticky enough to form a messy clump:

Don’t overmix or add too much water!

4. Roll out very thinly. What I mean by thin is this:

Roll out thinly

Roll out thinly

If it’s three millimetres thick, that’s about the max 🙂

Thin now = crunchy later

5. Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter of your choice and place crackers on a greased baking tray.

6. Prick the crackers with a fork several times each.

Pricked and primed for the oven

7. Bake for approx. 20 minutes at 190 °C. Afterwards, leave them to cool on the tray and they should just pop off easily.

NB #2: They burn very suddenly! Please keep an eye on them after the first 10 minutes and take them out when they start to look golden. They’re irredeemable when burnt but they’re fantastic when caught just a few minutes before that :mrgreen:

Golden harvest!

Golden harvest!

The idea is that you then use them as a base for any savoury topping you like… if you can stop yourself from eating them all before you prepare the first topping!

Perfect with savoury toppings or eaten plain

Perfect with savoury toppings or eaten plain

I’m sure you could change the spices in this recipe as you like, even adding dried herbs or changing the whole recipe into a sweet cracker instead (mmm… with cinnamon and cardamom perhaps… served still warm cracked over cold ice cream…). Ah, I was born to bake 🙂

Goal #26 – Done!

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Goal #26 – Participate in a 5km run/walk – is DONE!!! Today my best friend and I finally checked this fitness goal off our lists, and if I may say so, I am inordinately proud of myself for succeeding! 😀

Jozi 2013 Spar 5km Women's Race

Jozi 2013 Spar 5km Women’s Race

You see, I’ve never, ever excelled at anything physical. I’ve rarely even participated in anything physical. I’ve just always felt clumsy and not 100% at home in my skin; I don’t take part in sports, I can’t throw or catch, and I’ve believed everything people told me through the years to affirm that I’m ‘no good’ at physical activities.

Occasionally it’s bugged me that that aspect of my self has been left undeveloped for decades, but usually I forget about it because most of my living is in the emotional, intellectual and relational spheres. That’s the stuff I’m good at, so of course that’s what I’ve channeled most of my energy towards.

But then along came two factors that set me on a path to working on what I lack – and that path led me to today’s race.

The first factor was a very negative influence: a job that robbed me of everything that mattered to me (or, I let it do so). Months of erratic overtime and constant stress made it all too easy for me to compensate with feel-good foods, quick-fix dinners and zero time for exercise. In short: I got fatter and unfitter than I’d ever been in my life. This negative factor pushed me to to a place where I was desperately ready to reverse the damage and improve my physical health.

The second factor is a very positive influence: my best friend. It was her idea to do this race at first, but the more we chatted about it the more I realised that I actually really wanted to do this for me too. I wanted to do it precisely because every voice in my head was arguing that it’d be too tough and I’d fail and I simply wasn’t made for this kind of thing. I wanted to do it because I’ve spent my whole life avoiding physical challenges, which is just ridiculous!

So I had a push factor and a pull factor that got me through today. I was running away from something – from being overweight, from disrespecting my body, from making unhealthy choices, from the labels of ‘lazy’ and ‘unfit’. And I was running toward something – a physical challenge, a body I’m more comfortable in, a special achievement with my sister, new labels of ‘growing’ and ‘willing to try’.

Being among those thousands of milling women of every shape, size, age, colour and fitness level, I came to accept that there’s no need to be as hard on myself as I have been in the past. Sure, I’ll never be a pro runner; I don’t aspire to it at all. I’ll never look that way or train that way or try to fit into that mould. But hey, I can still run for fun! I can still set goals that involve hard work and physical fitness. I can still deliberately choose to challenge myself to become better for as long as the Lord grants me breath.

Today was amazing 😀

One tiny 5k race for Jozi, but one enormous leap of growth for me!

What’s hot and what’s not about life in Johannesburg

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Living-in-Joburg meme

When the ‘what I’m really doing’ meme themes were all the rage a while ago, this one was one of my favourites (can’t recall now where I sourced it though :/). I discovered it again on my PC the other day and thought to write a post about living in Jozi.

What’s hot about Jo’burg

  1. Johannesburg’s weather is mostly pleasant all year. Being the sunflower that I am, I thrive on the fact that we have an average of 3182 hours of sunshine each year 🙂 Divide that by 12 for a 12-hour day and you get approximately 265 sunny days in the year.
  2. Jozi is green. I mean, for a big bustling city on the dry continent of Africa, this is one leafy CBD! We have millions and millions of trees of all shapes, sizes and colours filling the sidewalks and gardens and parks of Johannesburg. It’s beautiful. And I’m proud to say that in her own small way, my mom was involved in planting street trees in our old neighbourhood many years ago. I’d still love to plant a tree of my own one day too…
  3. This central city of the Gauteng province is a good place to live for another practical reason: it’s where the jobs are at. There’s a massive concentration of industries and workers in Jo’burg – I guess things haven’t changed much since it began as a gold-mining town back in 1886.
  4. Johannesburg is a multicultural melting pot. We have citizens and visitors from all around the world, bringing their cultural influences, cuisine and languages to this busy city. Go to any shopping mall on a given day and you’ll hear almost all of our 11 national languages spoken, as well as many others such as German, Portuguese, French and so on. In other words: you don’t need to travel far to meet someone interesting!
  5. And last on this shortlist, Jozi is a central location leading to other great spots in South Africa and in the neighbouring countries. Our OR Tambo International Airport is one of the largest on the continent, which makes sense considering that Jo’burg is second only to Cairo in the bid for the largest African city. Land at OR Tambo and within a few hours you can be out in the bush (think Kruger National Park) or on your way to the coast at Durban. It’s a gateway to exploring other parts of Southern Africa.

What’s not so hot about Jo’burg

  1. Uppermost on every Joburger’s mind of late is the new e-toll policy that the government is trying to force on the residents of Gauteng province. Just google ‘Johannesburg e-toll news’ if you don’t know what I’m referring to. On top of rising petrol costs and all the other taxes and dues we pay, the government has decided to charge us for using the most useful highways around the city. We’re all still waiting to see how this one plays itself out…
  2. Sometimes the disadvantages to something are just the flipside of the advantages. In Jozi we have an exciting cultural melting pot, but that can quickly become a boiling pot when cultures clash. Again, google ‘Johannesburg xenophonia attacks’ if you’re curious.
  3. Being the biggest South African city goes hand in hand with overcrowding, poverty, illegal dwellings and townships. Tourists often think Soweto (our largest township) makes for an exciting tour, but it also represents some of the most desparate circumstances some Jo’burg residents must live in.
  4. Jozi started with the gold rush, and now both the gold and the rush are the foundation of this city. Joburgers are known for being materialistic, pushy, hard and rushed. Ninja and I grab every chance we can get to break away from the rush and try to live an anti-city life with a bit of margin in it.
  5. Finally, the classic bad news linked to Johannesburg, South Africa: it’s among the most dangerous cities in the world. Figures vary for just how dangerous it is compared to, say, places like Honduras. But Jozi remains full of crime and shady characters, with so much murder, rape and other violent crime that it’s too depressing to contemplate.

Thankfully, Ninja and I know that no one place is any more or less dangerous for us, because we’re always in the same place: in the protective hands of our Heavenly Father. If His will is to keep us safe even in Jo’burg of all places, or if not, we can trust that He has us exactly where He wants us 🙂