Understanding Johannesburg
November 11, 2013
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Johannesburg is not an easy city to understand. Often misunderstood and given a bad wrap by the media, Joburg’s image is definitely changing. The Telegraph recently published a great article by John Simpson in praise of Johannesburg and a recent episode of CNN’s Parts Unknown: South Africa with Anthony Bourdain made a valiant attempt to understand this complex city.

Bourdain admits how wrong his preconceptions of South Africa were after his time discovering Johannesburg with locals. In his exploration of Joburg, Bourdain braais eland heart, takes a walk through Hillbrow, visits Soweto with a local taxi driver and hangs out in the the trendy Neighbourgoods market.

It’s also really cool to see on of my fave Jozi bands The Blk Jks featured as well as the epic Sanza Sandile, whose Yeoville eatery I’ve been meaning to visit for a while.

The programme manages to capture Joburg’s essence with old news reels and conversations in local hangouts, mixed with stunning images of our landscapes and a great local soundtrack. I appreciated the open and honest conversations about socioeconomics and politics with Joburgers from diverse backgrounds, over plates full of good food. Classic Bourdain.

The episode is 42 minutes long, but definitely worth the watch for Bourdain’s insights on Jozi. Respect to Bourdain for challenging the preconceptions of Jozi, and venturing to parts of the city many locals don’t even get to.

For another view of Joburg, this one much shorter, check out William Kentridge’s animation on Johannesburg,  providing a social and historical context for what he terms the “Second Greatest City after Paris”. Do you agree?


Sitting on a Joburg inner city rooftop yesterday, listening to awesome local bands bathed in the golden sunset, all I could think was how much I loved this city – all her contradictions, stark beauty, raw past, warts and all. Take time to understand Joburg, you’ll love her too.


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Meruschka Govender

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There are 6 comments

  • […] Mzansi Girl spoke about the uplifting video CNN has done on Parts Unknown – documentary on city’s of the world but with a different slant. Have a look here […]

  • Doron says:

    Thanks for this post! It seems like there is so much happening in Jozi…and I’m not there to enjoy it. I wish I was though.

  • Di Brown says:

    I never considered Joburg as a down time destination until I started following your blog. I cant wait to experience the Joburg you have exposed me to. You & Jozi make an impressive team. Loving your stuff!

  • Namrata says:

    Much needed publicity for Joburg. i am in indian expat living here and can definitely vouch for the negative image the media and sadly a few other expats living here have created. Joburg is a beautiful city…waiting to be explored.

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