Globe + Roman

The Maboneng Precinct: like Newtown, an inner-city area which has flourished thanks to recent investment. This is Jo’burg’s hipster quarter, packed with shops, galleries, cafes, rooftop bars. 

It isn’t perfect. Private security guards patrol the area, giving it, as this article points out, an ‘island’ feel.

Nevertheless, there’s something inspiring about Maboneng. In many ways, it resembles an idealised vision of the New South Africa. The young, well dressed people on the street represent a cross-section of South Africa’s racial mix. The cafes, restaurants, shops and galleries are chic, sophisticated - and distinctly African. The clothes in the boutiques use traditional fabrics; the cafe Pata Pata is decorated to resemble a 1950s township diner. These are locally-owned, independent businesses, bringing money into an area that was, not too long ago, a virtual no-go.

(Johannesburg, February 2014 // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

Spotted at Mandela House, Soweto.
(Soweto, February 2014 // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

Spotted at Mandela House, Soweto.

(Soweto, February 2014 // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

Street art, Newtown.
( Johannesburg, February 2014 // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

Street art, Newtown.

( Johannesburg, February 2014 // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

(Mandela Remembered,Soweto, February 2014 // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

Spotted at the BAHA gallery, Maboneng, Jo’burg: Miriam Makeba, Drum magazine cover, June 1957. 
(Maboneng, Johannesburg, February 2014  // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

Spotted at the BAHA gallery, Maboneng, Jo’burg: Miriam Makeba, Drum magazine cover, June 1957. 

(Maboneng, Johannesburg, February 2014  // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

Freedom fighter: Did you know the young Mandela was a mad keen boxer? 
'Boxing is egalitarian,' he wrote in Long Walk to Freedom. ’In the ring, rank, age, color, and wealth are irrelevant…I never did any real fighting after I entered politics. My main interest was in training; I found the rigorous exercise to be an excellent outlet for tension and stress. After a strenuous workout, I felt both mentally and physically lighter. It was a way of losing myself in something that was not the struggle.’
Here are some great photos of the future President in training. Above, a five metre high steel sculpture of him outside the Magistrate’s Court in Johannesburg - just opposite the Fox Street office where he and Oliver Tambo set up their law firm in 1953, then the only all-black law firm in the country.
( Johannesburg, February 2014 // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

Freedom fighter: Did you know the young Mandela was a mad keen boxer? 

'Boxing is egalitarian,' he wrote in Long Walk to Freedom. ’In the ring, rank, age, color, and wealth are irrelevant…I never did any real fighting after I entered politics. My main interest was in training; I found the rigorous exercise to be an excellent outlet for tension and stress. After a strenuous workout, I felt both mentally and physically lighter. It was a way of losing myself in something that was not the struggle.’

Here are some great photos of the future President in training. Above, a five metre high steel sculpture of him outside the Magistrate’s Court in Johannesburg - just opposite the Fox Street office where he and Oliver Tambo set up their law firm in 1953, then the only all-black law firm in the country.

( Johannesburg, February 2014 // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

At the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, visitors are given tickets designating them ‘white’ or ‘non-white’. They can then only use the entrances and facilities available for their ‘race’. It’s a simple and effective way or ramming home the stupid, random nature or racial segregation.

( Johannesburg, February 2014 // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

Ten years ago, when I lived in South Africa, Newtown was a no-go. While the (predominately white) suburbs flourished, ‘downtown’ was a shell of abandoned office buildings, slums and crime. No longer.

Thanks to a combination of public and private investment - and the installation of a wide-reaching CCTV network - the area has been transformed. 

Home to the Market Theatre - where some of the most important anti-Apartheid plays, such as Woza Albert! and Sophiatown made their debut - as well as dozens of pieces of street art, it is vibrant, bustling, and safe to explore. 

Cafes sit alongside barbers and shops selling ‘muti’ - traditional medicine. Pedestrians mill around. At the weekend, the Neighbourgoods market draws in crowds of shoppers. 

(Newtown, Johannesburg, February 2014 // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

I have just returned from two nights (yes! two nights) in South Africa. I had a mere 30 hours in Johannesburg, but still managed to cram in a lot: Soweto, Newtown, Maboneng, the Apartheid Museum. Here, a mural of Mandela in Soweto - one of many images of the late President around the city.

I have just returned from two nights (yes! two nights) in South Africa. I had a mere 30 hours in Johannesburg, but still managed to cram in a lot: Soweto, Newtown, Maboneng, the Apartheid Museum. Here, a mural of Mandela in Soweto - one of many images of the late President around the city.

(The London Eye, January 2014 // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

(The London Eye, January 2014 // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

Happy New Year! Some 2013 highlights…

Merry Christmas!

Street art, Berlin
(Berlin, November 2013 // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

Street art, Berlin

(Berlin, November 2013 // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

Among the many delights on offer at the Winterfeldtplatz market are these raclette tartines, made rapid-fire by the woman pictured on the left. You order your sandwich (there are two choices: with ham or without), and she sets a wodge of crusty, slightly chewy, white bread on a grill. Two raclette machines whir away and, when the bread’s just toasted, she plonks a piece of ham on top, before scraping some of the oozing cheese over it. A sprinkle of herbs and cayenne - et voila. Inelegant but so, so delicious.

(Berlin, November 2013 // Panasonic DMC-FS62)

The Garden of Exile, outside the Jewish Museum in Kreuzberg, was designed to represent the experience of those who fled during World War II. It contains 49 concrete columns set out on a dirt floor set at a 12 degree slope, topped with olive trees. Standing among them, looking up to the distant sky, evokes simultaneous feelings of claustrophobia, hope and despair.

(Berlin, November 2013 // Panasonic DMC-FS62)