Local traditions and culture in Johannesburg

  • BOARDING MASSAGE You can feel the stress fall away
    BOARDING MASSAGE You can feel the stress...
    by CatherineReichardt
  • TOURISTS Awesome to teach Afrikaans swear words to
    TOURISTS Awesome to teach Afrikaans...
    by CatherineReichardt
  • Yeoville Street jungle; zilch attention since 1994
    Yeoville Street jungle; zilch attention...
    by kenHuocj

Most Viewed Local Customs in Johannesburg

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    So, who was this Johannes bloke anyway?

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Sep 19, 2011

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    It doesn't take a great linguist to work out that 'Johannesburg' means 'the town of Johannes' ... but who was Johannes?

    The simple answer is that we don't know. Legend has it that when Commissioner Carl van Brandis was despatched from Pretoria to proclaim the new mining camp of Johannesburg in 1886, he brought the paperwork with him explaining the logic behind the chosen name of the new settlement but it was blown away from his tent in the strong winds of a summer thunderstorm. And thus, the identity of the Johannes in question was lost, and has been the subject of much speculation ever since.

    Johannes was - and remains - a very common Dutch and Afrikaans name, so there would have been no shortage of candidates for the man who lent his name to what has become South Africa's largest city. The balance of probability is that it was named after the two first commissioners of the town - Johann Rissik and Christiaan Johannes Joubert - since they had the name in common.

    And whilst we're on the subject of the city's name, a point of pronounciation here. The easiest way to make yourself conspicuous as a tourist is to pronounce the city's name 'JOE - hannes - burg' with an emphasis on the first syllable, a pronounciation much beloved by CNN presenters. It is actually pronounced 'J'hannesburg'!!!

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    Human Rights Day

    by Moirads Written Mar 14, 2010

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    South Africa is very proud of its wonderful new constitution which protects the human rights of all its citizens regardless of sex, colour, creed or orientation. The Bill of Rights is one of the cornerstones of democracy in South Africa.

    Our Constitution provided for the establishment of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) which was launched on 21 March 1996, 35 years after the fateful events of 21 March 1960 when demonstrators in Sharpeville were gunned down by police, drawing the attention of the world to the evils of apartheid.

    The Native Laws Amendment Act of 1952 extended Government control over the movement of black people to urban areas and abolished the use of the Pass Book (a document which Africans were required to carry on them to ‘prove’ that they were allowed to enter a ‘white area’) in favour of a reference book which had to be carried at all times by all black people. Failure to produce the reference book on demand by the police was a punishable offence. The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) proposed an anti-Pass campaign to start on 21 March 1960. All black men were to take part in the campaign without their passes and present themselves for arrest.

    Campaigners gathered at police stations in townships near Johannesburg where they were dispersed by police. At the Sharpeville police station a scuffle broke out. Part of a wire fence was trampled, allowing the crowd to move forward. The police opened fire, apparently without having been given a prior order to do so. Sixty-nine people were killed and 180 wounded. In apartheid South Africa this day became known as Sharpeville Day and although not part of the official calendar of public holidays the event was commemorated among anti-apartheid movements.

    In the post 1994 democratic South Africa this day has been declared a public holiday which allows us, as a people, to celebrate our constitution which protects the human rights of all its citizens.

    When a public holiday in South Africa falls on a Sunday the following Monday becomes a public holiday, making it a long weekend.

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    Newspapers

    by Moirads Written Feb 2, 2010

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    While more and more people are using online sources for the news, most residents of Johannesburg do still read newspapers.

    Someone once accused me of reading “elitist newspapers” so I have tried to list all those English papers that I can remember, although I have never purchased most of them. I will mark the ones I sometimes read with an asterisk* and the ones I sometimes purchase with a double asterisk**. The comments in the brackets relate to frequency of publication.

    Business Day* (Daily), The Star** (Daily), Citizen* (Daily), Sowetan (Daily), City Press (Daily), Mail and Guardian** (Weekly), Saturday Star* (Weekly), Sunday Independent** (Weekly), Sunday Times** (Weekly).

    The Mail & Guardian is the one I never miss. It is published on a Friday and has an indepth look at politics and arts and culture.

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    The financial capital of South Africa

    by Jenniflower Updated Jun 6, 2006

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    Many people call South Africa ‘The America of Africa’.

    It represents only a small 3% of the continent’s total surface area, yet it accounts for 40% of all African industrial output, (Johannesburg 'Gauteng' accounting for 60% of South Africa's 40%).

    There are many malls here of world class standards (5 star). It has more malls than other provinces, this is due to there being more money here.

    Where I used to live (Randburg), there were about 10 BIG malls within half an hour from me. All top quality and greta to visit.

    Stunning malls are found all over South Africa
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    Mighty Johannesburg

    by Jenniflower Updated May 23, 2006

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    Johannesburg is a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; and a stock exchange that ranks among the 10 largest in the world.

    Her infrastructure is modern and efficient.

    My friend Walt is a painter (we met at Art school), and he gets commissions all the time for Johannesburg landscapes.

    Generally corporate commissions, this is proving popular!

    His style is quite impressionistic, with not too much detail in these paintings - he generally paints with ALOT of details.

    Johannesburg painter :)
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    Biltong

    by cokes Written May 20, 2005

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    Well this is a South African Favourite , its dried curried meat. They normally made from game , like Springbok , Kudu , Eland , Ostrich and so forth. They made into dry wors , dried steaks and shreaded pieces.

    Be sure to check out the link provided if you want to try and make your own Biltong.

    Picture of Biltong
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    Language

    by Gard Written Jan 24, 2005

    Did you know that South Africa has 11 official languages? The languages (in alphabetical order) are Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu. You can get by without any problems speaking English in Joburg.

    When I came there the first time I was a bit surprised by a few words. Nikki kept on saying “turn right at the robots” when she was giving me driving instructions. Well, I didn’t really see that many robots in the streets :-) But robots is the word for traffic lights. When I talked to Nikki’s family and telling them things they kept on saying “izzit?” (like in “is it?”). Well, my natural response was of course to confirm by saying “Yes” but later on I realized that the “izzit” is just a phrase being used when you listen to someone tell a story and I guess it can be translated into “really?” There is also the expression “howzit” which is more or less like “Hi, how are you?”

    I also kept on asking for ketchup and got pretty blank faces. In this part of the world we’re only talking about “tomato sauce”. Talking about food: one of the South African past times is barbecuing - known as ‘braai’. One of the best things to braai is a boerewors - an excellent meat sausage (mixed with herbs & spices).

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    Witch Doctors

    by cokes Updated Dec 27, 2004

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    I don`t have any good to say about these people after what rumors goes around and what the media have to say about these people. Well I guess there is good ones (the traditional healers) who is there to try and help the people.

    The Black people in South Africa is very superstitious and they believe in witch craft. The witch doctor will throw bones and he will tell you stuff like your future and put curses on people.

    Who knows , this is one of the local customs practised by the local tribal people of South Africa.

    Witch Doctors Throwing Bones

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    Unlike Cape Town, I find the...

    by Krystynn Written Aug 24, 2002

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    Unlike Cape Town, I find the people here (Jo'burg) pretty rude, curt and brash.

    Also, if you're claiming VAT (they will give you cash on the spot at the airport - either in US$ or Rand. Of course I'd take the US$ anytime!), do remember to check in at the airport way, way earlier than the required time. I mean, these folks at the VAT counter work at snail pace and are EXTREMELY rude. I was unfortunate enough to be served by a VERY rude young South African white woman who kept on raising her voice at me. At one point, I was so peeved that I tried to steal a look at her name on the tag that she was wearing... And the smart gal actually had her name covered with a STICKER! Can you believe her?! No wonder she was behaving the way she was behaving. Finally, I responded in a calm manner that she had to understand that I was a tourist and this is my FIRST time claiming VAT in South Africa.

    You see, some of the establishments (namely, the famous Kookai boutique in Sun City) didn't have a VAT number on their receipts and for that, not only could I NOT claim the refund, that VAT Officer scolded me for it - as if I were the culprit!

    The next time when I go back to South Africa, I'm VERY sure I'll skip Johannesburg. I'd just concentrate on Cape Town or Sun City... or some new places I haven't visited....

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Johannesburg Local Customs

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