Until relatively recently, South Africa was the largest producer of Gold. When gold purchases went up, South African’s smiled and the South African currency, the ‘Rand’ would do well in the markets. However, the historical legacy behind the building of this city, lies entirely on the Gold Rush. In the past South Africa’s economy was built focusing on the mining industry. Now which cities would they mine these materials in? The answer lies in the story.
The City Of Gold
My high school geography teacher asked the class: “Do you know which is the only city in the world, which was not built next to a source of water?” “Do you know which city is home to the largest man-made forest on earth with over ten million trees?” Believe it or not, this city is one and the same. Tree’s need water and yet, it’s a city that was not built near to a water source? He stared at our intrigued faces, daring us to give the right answer. When no one responded, he smiled and declared: “Johannesburg. Egoli, the City of Gold, was built solely for gold, in man’s pursuit of a fortune.” He explained that after people flocked to South Africa to seek their fortune, during the Gold Rush. The modern age, “El Dorado” as some called it, the city quickly developed and grew. Today it is the largest city in South Africa and the wealthiest. The whole region is home to just over twelve million people. The New York of Africa, if you will, that thousands of Europeans and African’s flocked to in search of fortune, has many an interesting story to tell. These stories range from employing innovative engineers to solve its water issues to solve a potential crisis to being home to Soweto, the forefront of the Apartheid struggle, to present day Johannesburg, a city home to individuals no longer in pursuit of gold, but nevertheless in pursuit of money, all head offices being located here for many organisations in Africa.
Mining Gold And Apartheid
Now, these mines needed workers. Cheap labour. Who better to exploit than the unassuming local black people of Southern Africa? The lured them to Johannesburg, away from their remote villages in the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu Natal or the Northern Cape, with the promises of being able to feed and clothe their families. These migrant workers were housed in Soweto, which stands for South West Township. This came to be South Africa’s largest township. Many well-known South African’s hail from Soweto, from Nelson Mandela to Trevor Noah to Cyril Ramaposa, the current president of South Africa. Soweto was home to the struggle for freedom, here you can view the Hector Pieterson memorial, which commemorates Hector Pieterson and students like him around South Africa who were killed or imprisoned during a peaceful protest against the government’s implementation of laws which stated that all South African students should receive educational instruction in Afrikaans. This being their third or fourth language, they felt that they were not able to complete final examinations in, as they would not be able to answer the examination questions in this language. These students wanted instruction in their local languages and English, the international language which would best prepare them for the workforce and for university should they wish to head in that direction. Soweto is the city where the countries future politicians were living, working and campaigning for equal rights and opportunities for all South Africans.
If you would like to see Soweto and learn more about its history from a local guide, I would encourage you to take the City Sightseeing Bus tour. They do a township tour of Soweto. You will ride in a local mini bus which is known as a taxi, just like the ones you will have seen in Johannesburg. You will visit the main sights in Soweto, namely, the Hector Pieterson memorial, the Soweto Towers (with an option to go bungy jumping from the Soweto towers, every weekday excepting Wednesdays), Soccer city, where the 2010 finale took place and to visit Nelson Mandela’s home.
Local Tip: Visit A Local Shop At The Stop Off Near The Soweto Towers And Buy A Kota Bun Around Ten Rand Depending On The Fillings You Choose. You Can Choose From Chips And Cheese Inside, A Russian Sausage And Much More.
If you don’t understand apartheid, how it affected South Africans and still affects them today, then a visit to the Apartheid Museum is a must. An interactive museum, filled with local artists work, interactive technological displays and tranquil quarters to reflect and find something to snack on. The museum is located next to the Gold Reef City Casino. You can get here on the city sightseeing bus or by car. Parking is secure.
Tip: Bring Coins To Pay For Parking.
Where Life Began For Human Kind
A trip down to the cradle of human kind is where one can discover more relating to our origins as humans, this is a must-see attraction for those who are not completely opposed to the Darwinian idea of evolution.
What else is interesting to visit in the city of Gold, Johannesburg? Johannesburgers, as the locals are known, love to eat in Maboneng. This is a hip, up and coming inner city district, which has undergone an urban renewal initiative. Expect to find great South African wine, beers on tap, liquors, spirits and food. The food ranges from Mozambican to the Cape Malay style food, to Italian, Mexican and of course the local favourite, Indian food. The suburb is walk-able and the security is tight. But I would suggest trying to park as close as possible to where you will be dining. It is just safer for your own peace of mind.
Places to look for hotels to stay in include Melrose Arch, Rosebank Mall and Sandton City. Wonderful restaurants and entertainment and security can be found when residing in these areas. Air B’nB is a fantastic in South Africa as South African’s love to have company and have a braai (barbecue).
Tip: I’d Suggest Just Two Nights In Johannesburg, Maximum. Fly Out On The Second Night.
If you need some VIP treatment and a resort is your thing there are a number to choose from, but why not go for the best and try out Sun City? Add an extra two nights for a stay in Sun City. Or how about a safari in the Kruger National Park, one of Africa’s largest wild life parks at twenty thousand kilometers squared, the same size as the whole of Israel! Add an extra three nights for a visit to the Park.