Downtown, Johannesburg

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  • Downtown
    by CatherineReichardt
  • Downtown
    by CatherineReichardt
  • Downtown
    by CatherineReichardt
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    Downtown Architecture

    by queensgirl Updated Oct 19, 2004

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    I took a tour down here very informative it is not as bad as people say it was, but If you are tourist just do not come down here at night or by yourself (use common sense and should be okay) Even though all businesses, shopping and jobs moved out of downtown Johannesburg. The buildings and skyline are great to look at.

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    Downtown Johannesburg

    by Airpunk Written Aug 19, 2009

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    Downtown Johannesburg
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    Everybody knowns that Johannesburg is not the safest place on earth, but this counts especially for downtown Johannesburg. As a normal tourist, you’ll probably like to see the center of the town expecting that a big part of the city life is going on there. Not in Johannesburg – the city center is ruled by poverty and criminality with authorities only slowly ganing back control in some areas. Immigrants from neighbouring african countries come to this place, establishing crime, drugs and prostituation. Nothing for a tourist to see here… If you are looking for historical buildings, you won’t find any. The only places of interest here may be the trains and bus terminals as well as the new Nelson Mandela bridge. The rest is a place you will surely not like.
    If you want to get an impression, take an organized tour or go there with a local. You’ll see what I am talking about, but you’ll see also one thing which is typical for post-Apartheid South Africa: Slow progress. In the center, you’ll find some spots where life is not looking that bad. The city of Johannesburg is doing a lot to make the city center a better place, not only by reducing crime, but also by refurbishing the buildings. It gives hope that in a couple of years, the center will be again a place safe for locals and tourists. I would like to recommend a tour with Annekie or Henry which offer a half-day tour through downtown Johannesburg and Soweto and will serve you as your private guide.

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    Diagonal Street: the way things were

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Oct 5, 2012

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    Diagonal Street - not to be confused with Diagon Alley (that's Harry Potter) - was for years the home of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and the hub of commercial activity in sub Saharan Africa.

    Diagonal Street is so named because it was the only departure from the rigid north-south and east-west grid system of streets in central Johannesburg and trends in a wayward south east-north west direction. During the Gold Rush, it was known as Jubilee Street, but had already settled on its present name by 1897.

    In Johannesburg's early days, Diagonal Street formed the one of the boundaries of the city, and the area to the west was considered to be 'open land' on which immigrant Indians, Chinese and Coloureds settled. Indian traders bought buildings on Diagonal Street using white proxies and established stores and for many years, it continued to be a racially mixed area until the implementation of the notorious Group Areas Act in 1950, after which the area was declared as being 'white'.

    Diagonal Street's financial credentials were reinforced when the Johannesburg Stock Exchange moved from Hollard Street into a purpose designed building at 17 Diagonal Street in 1978 (the fourth premises that it had occupied). However, inner city decay and increasing concerns about security caused the JSE relocated to its current premises in Sandton in 2000.

    Today, the most recognisable building on this street is the iconic 'diamond' building at 11 Diagonal. This forms an interesting counterpoint to the adjacent Victorian terraces of what is arguably one of the best preserved Victorian era streets in Johannesburg, with shops on the ground floor and accommodation on the upper floor, complete with verandahs trimmed with 'broekie lace' (a term for delicate filigree cast ironwork, derived from the Afrikaans term for ladies' underwear).

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    The sadly run down Jo'burg Magistrate's Court

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Oct 5, 2012

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    In many places in the Johannesburg CBD, there are encouraging signs of urban renewal, but unfortunately this does not hold for the neglected and dilapidated Johannesburg Magistrates' Court on the western edge of the CBD.

    The building was located in Ferrierasdorp, close to the site of Ferriera's Camp, which was one of the earliest gold mines in Johannesburg (one of the underground stopes of this mine can still be seen in the small but interesting Mine Shaft exhibit of the Standard Bank building). It was completed in 1941 to replace the ageing Magistrates' Court building on Government (now Gandhi Square) and is a fine sandstone building which blends harmoniously with the monumental architectural style of the Anglo American offices just over the road at 44 and 45 Main Street. It was designed around a central courtyard and incorporates 16 criminal courts and 12 civil courts as well as holding cells and administrative offices. And, in true apartheid style, the building was designed to include "native concourses" connecting to the southern entrance (which was the only entrance that blacks were permitted to use).

    The Courts contain several impressive works of art by South African artists including Pierneef and Coert Steynberg, but their appeal is not enough to counter the pervasive air of neglect which is in sharp contrast to the revitalised Main Street precinct which it overlooks.

    The Magistrates Court was bombed in 1987 by Hein Grosskopf, a member of the ANC's military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe who had ironically served a term as Johannesburg's junior mayor. Security was tightened considerably in the wake of the bombing, and the use of the Magistrates' Court as the venue for high profile trials has necessitated the erection on unsightly security fencing which makes it hard to appreciate the building's elegant facade.

    Sadly, my strongest memory of this building (which I worked opposite for several years in the mid 1990s) is of a dejected line of women queuing outside the Family Court section of the building on certain mornings to collect maintenance payments owed by defaulting former spouses.

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    45 Main's intimidating monumental architecture

    by CatherineReichardt Updated May 6, 2012

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    Confession time (again) ... I'm a recovering Angloid, and for four years, 45 Main Street was my place of work. Note that I worked in 45 - and not 44 Main - as I was then merely a minion in the Anglo Technical Department and not one of the favoured few who cracked an office along the august corridors of the Head Office over the road!

    Anglo American Corporation as it was then - now Anglo American plc - was one of those oddest of organisations - a South African mining house (company) - and at that point, still had a culture of 'cradle to grave' employment, which has since largely fallen away. Take my husband for example, who was recruited as a new graduate to join one of the last years of the prestigious management trainee scheme, and whose relationship to the organisation I often liken to my own with the Catholic church within which I was raised. Both organisations moulded and directed us, and although we harbour simultaneous feelings of intense love and hate towards the institutions, we can never quite shrug off their influence or leave them behind us! Years and decades after their departure, Angloids possess an uncanny ability to seek out and recognise each other and launch into fond reminiscences about The Good Old Days when the avuncular and revered Harry Oppenheimer was at the helm and all was well in the Anglo universe!

    Anyway, thanks for indulging me in that fond digression, and if you're still reading this, let's revert to a more objective discussion on the distinctive architecture of the Anglo precinct of buildings at the western end of Main Street. To describe it as being 'monumental' would not be an overstatement, for these were buildings designed to reinforce the importance of the organisation housed within and to intimidate their rivals. In hindsight, I am struck by the resemblance between these buildings and some of Albert Spier's grand designs for the Kongresshalle precinct in Nuernberg, which were indeed conceived over the same period in the late 1930s. Whilst I have no intention of comparing Anglo to the Nazi Party, when you look at the architecture of the entrance to 45 Main - flanked with eagles - you must concede that it wouldn't look out of place topped with a swastika.

    Although Main Street was a functioning thoroughfare when I worked there, this section has now been pedestrianised and beautifully landscaped to create a haven of tranquility on the bustling fringe of the CBD. And if the prospect of impressive architecture and Angloid-spotting isn't enough to tempt you to visit, then perhaps the lure of the exquisite 'Stampede' fountain comprising a graceful arc of leaping impala will be!

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    Linger in Library Gardens

    by CatherineReichardt Updated May 30, 2012

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    Library Gardens is located in the heart of the Jo'burg CBD, and is a welcome green zone amid the concrete high rise.

    The gardens - more of a grassed oblong in reality - are bounded on the western end by the Johannesburg Library, and to the east by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature. It's a bustling space that gets particularly busy over lunch times, and is an interesting place to people watch provided that you're not flaunting valuables.

    Like most of the CBD, this area was neglected during the 1990s and became rather rundown, but there has been a concerted effort to gentrify this space in recent years, maybe because it's right under the noses of the politicians in the Legislature. This upliftment has included the construction of several tables and chairs with chessboards inlaid into the table tops, but you'll have to bring your own pieces.

    The Jo'burg Library has undergone a major revamp in recent years, and reopened in the first quarter of 2012. To my immense shame (particularly given that I am a voracious reader), I have never yet darkened its doors, but judging by the newspaper coverage, it's amazing - time to redress this oversight!

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    Gauteng Provincial Legislature

    by CatherineReichardt Updated May 30, 2012

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    South Africa comprises nine provinces, the smallest and most economically significant of which is Gauteng ('place of gold' in Sesotho).

    The Gauteng Provincial Legislature is housed in the former Johannesburg City Hall on the corner of Loveday and President Streets, overlooking Library Gardens to the west and the Rissik Street Post Office (which was sadly gutted by fire a few years ago and is still awaiting restoration) to the east.

    It's an imposing colonial sandstone building that was built surprisingly late, being completed in 1915 at a cost of just over half a million pounds (which must have been serious money back then).

    It was declared a national monument in 1979, and withstood a bomb blast in 1988. It fell into disrepair in the early 1990s, but received a new lease of life when it was decided to move the Provincial Legislature to Johannesburg from its previous location in Pretoria, but is still awaiting renovation.

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    Look up to the little man in Gandhi Square

    by CatherineReichardt Updated May 6, 2012

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    This seems to be my year for inadvertently discovering Gandhi's footprint on South African history, as it's the third time in as many months that I've stumbled across him on my travels - first in Pietermaritzburg, then in Durban and now in Johannesburg.

    It comes as a surprise to many visitors that South Africa has any link to Gandhi at all, as the first two decades of his working life which he spent here as an immigrant lawyer are largely overshadowed by the more high profile legacy of his latter years in India. Yet South Africa was the setting for his first act of civil disobedience (when he refused to relocate from a first class train carriage when a fellow passenger objected to sharing with a 'coolie'), which ultimately evolved into his revolutionary principle of 'Satyagraha', which is celebrated in an interesting but sadly dogeared exhibit at the top of the Carlton Centre.

    This unusual and rather excellent statue is a relatively recent addition to the CBD landscape and was erected in 2003 following the revamp and renaming of the Gandhi Square bus terminus in his honour.

    Ghandhi practiced law from offices on the nearby corner of Anderson and Rissik Streets for seven years between 1903 and 1910, and defended Indian and Chinese clients who were accused of non-violent resistance to racially discriminatory legislation. Gandhi himself was tried and found guilty for such offences in 1908, leading to the first of several spells in prison. It is not hard to imagine him dashing from his offices to the law courts that were originally located on this square (then known as Government Square), his lawyer's robes billowing around him.

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    The unexpected mosque on Kerk Street

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Jun 1, 2012

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    As the observant will have noticed, the title to this tip is a play on words, as 'kerk' in Afrikaans means 'church', so a mosque is obviously an unexpected addition!

    This striking mosque is located towards the western margin of the Jo'burg CBD, and sits on the corner of Kerk and Sauer Streets. It has particular significance for me, as it is the first mosque that I ever recall seeing in one of Johannesburg's historically 'white' areas, and I find the contrast between the beautifully delicate Islamic architecture and the stark modernism of the adjacent mirrored glass building to be particularly pleasing.

    In researching this tip, I was surprised to discover that this is in fact the third mosque to be located on this site, the first of which was built in 1906. This was replaced in 1918 by a larger structure, but by the late 1980s, the Muslim community had outgrown the mosque and decided to build a larger building on the same site. Interestingly, the municipality opposed the demolition of what was considered to be a historic building, and the Muslim community had to lobby for permission to undertake the demolition on the basis that, "In Islam the purpose of buildings are their need and not historic, monumental or aesthetic splendour."

    Designing the mosque within the constraints of Jo'burg's rigid north-south and east-west grid system of streets posed a particular problem for the architects, as mosques are required to be oriented towards Mecca. This challenge was neatly solved by orienting the interior walls at 11 degrees east of north, which means that the thickness of the walls varies considerably. The sharp eyed will be able to identify this based on the varying width of the windowsills, which widen going north.

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    Whimsical memorial to Walter and Albertina Sisulu

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Jun 1, 2012

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    As I have mentioned elsewhere, one of the most positive developments in the Johannesburg CBD over the last decade has been the proliferation of public art. It's symptomatic of the urban renewal that has taken place in recent years, and whilst I may have my beefs with service delivery on the part of the Johannesburg Municipality, I am full of praise for what they've done on this count.

    This whimsical statue of Walter and Albertina Sisulu is an excellent case in point. Located in a little wedge-shaped piece of ground at the bustling end of Diagonal Street that was previously wasteland, this statue forms the centrepiece of a small park which also features some notice boards outlining the history of this area.

    Although they don't receive as much publicity as the higher profile Mandelas, it is impossible to overstate the contribution that the Sisulus made to South Africa's liberation struggle.

    Sisulu is a particularly interesting figure in the ANC leadership because unusually, he was Coloured rather than Black, being the illegitimate son of a (black) Xhosa woman and a white foreman. Not only were he and Mandela close friends - Mandela served as best man at the Sisulu's wedding - but he was also related to Mandela by marriage through Mandela's first wife.

    Walter held several influential positions in the ANC (including party secretary, and later, deputy President) and played an important role in determining the military strategy of the ANC's military wing, Umkhonto weSizwe ('The Spear of the Nation'). He was one of the Rivonia treason trialists and - like Mandela - was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island.

    Albertina Sisulu is an equally - if not possibly even more interesting - figure than her husband. She was universally known as 'Ma Sisulu' as a mark of respect for her kind and motherly nature and although Winnie Mandela was at pains to depict herself as the 'Mother of the Nation', in truth Ma Sisulu was much more deserving of the title.

    Albertina was also of Xhosa stock, and was forced to leave her home village in the Eastern Cape at an early age in order to support her younger brothers and sisters. She trained as a nurse, and served as a midwife in the townships, where she met and married Walter. She was a political activist in her own right and holds the dubious distinction of being the first women imprisoned under the General Laws Amendment Act of 1963, which allowed the apartheid government to hold prisoners in detention without being charged. She was in and out of the Johannesburg Women's Prison on a regular basis in subsequent years, spending long periods in solitary confinement, and using her nursing skills to provide medical care to fellow inmates (including Winnie Mandela who was imprisoned and threatened to miscarry during her first pregnancy).

    She served a term as an Member of Parliament in South Africa's first democratic government, and devoted herself in 'retirement' (which seems to have been a relative term in her case) to a range of community projects. As a mark of respect, the section of highway from Johannesburg to O.R. Tambo Airport was renamed in her honour, and she died in 2011, eight years after her husband.

    Unlike the Mandelas, whose children and grandchildren have been dogged with controversy, the Sisulus founded a dynasty of political achievers. At the time of writing, their son Max Sisulu was speaker in the National Assembly, their daughters Lindiwe and Beryl were Minister of Defence and the African Ambassador to Norway respectively, their son Zwelakhe Sisulu was a successful businessman and Max's wife Elinor Sisulu was a celebrated human rights activist and author.

    Above all, I love the naive charm of the statue, which depicts these two titans of the anti apartheid struggle as a devoted elderly couple who delighted in each other's company - all that seems to be missing is tea and biscuits!

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    The muti shop on Diagonal Street

    by CatherineReichardt Updated May 30, 2012

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    When I worked in the distinctive 'diamond building' at 11 Diagonal Street, I interacted with a lot of overseas visitors, most of whom were terrified at the prospect of being attacked on the mean streets of Big Bad Johannesburg. Nonetheless, even the most fearful could usually be persuaded to at least take a short stroll down Diagonal Street, historically the commercial centre of Johannesburg, and home to some of the best preserved (and most tastefully restored) historic buildings from the turn of the 20th century.

    The shops on Diagonal Street are usually Indian run and sell a range of goods aimed at lower income earners - blankets and luridly coloured plastic bowls made in China seem to feature particularly prominently. The notable exception is this little shop on the eastern side of the street, which is a muti (traditional medicine) shop.

    'Muti' is a catch all phrase which refers to traditional medicine from both plant and animal sources. The African population still place enormous faith in its efficacy, and many would use muti in addition to - and often in preference of - conventional Western medicine.

    Venturing inside the store is like stepping into a different world. To start with, it's dimly lit, and it takes a few seconds for your eyes to adjust to the gloom. The smell is musty and unfamiliar - the combined aroma of mummified animal parts and indigenous plants. And although it's initially hard to distinguish what the brown wizened objects might be, once you start to look harder, you start to recognise dessicated bulbs, bark, paws, skins, internal organs and other assorted body parts of unfortunate animals which have been collected from all over Southern Africa and transported to Johannesburg for sale.

    The muti on display is the cheaper stuff which is usually used to cure more common ailments. If you want the more expensive muti - such as vulture's heads, which are believed to help people win the lottery (because of the belief that vultures fly so high, they can see into the future) - you'll have to ask for it, which I've never been brave enough to do. There is also a sangoma (a traditional healer - often incorrectly known as a witch doctor) in residence should you wish to consult him in a professional capacity.

    The centre of the muti trade in Johannesburg is the huge Faraday Market, which I have been trying for ages to visit with a former colleague of mine who did her PhD thesis on the impact of the muti trade on biodiversity. Sadly there is strong evidence to indicate that overexploitation by the muti trade is threatening the continued existence of various rare and endangered species of plants and animals.

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    Ghostly byways

    by Moirads Written Nov 23, 2011

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    The Mystery Ghost Bus is a fabulous, fun event, especially for large crowds of people. I have attended the Johannesburg one three times now. Conducted by a registered tour guide, Deanna Kirby, the crowd is sussed out and the tour tailored to suit the majority, giving it as much “whooooooooo” as the crowd allows.

    The first time I attended there was lively discussion at the pub, Pound and Penny at the Sunnyside Hotel even before the tour started and the atmosphere was truly good. Ms Kirby gave plenty of information about Johannesburg generally as we drove past various places. The second time the crowd were just a bunch of drunk employees getting increasingly drunker at the expense of their boss. Not nearly as much fun. I felt sorry for the guide and for the four or six sober people on the tour. Well, at least the drunk people did not have to drive. The tour bus is luxurious. The girl I did the tour with the second time is English and she had previously done a London Ghost Bus Tour and despite my disappointment after the first time she thought the Joburg Ghost Bus Tour was infinitely better than the London one. She did point out that London has better quality ghosts, though. The third time I did the tour it was back to the pleasant atmosphere of the first time, but with a less lively crowd, so there was somewhat less interaction with Ms Kirby than the first time, but more than the second time. Once again we really enjoyed ourselves.

    After an introductory talk we head to the bus. There we listen to a recording of some spine-tingling South African Ghost tales read to us by Jamie Barlett, award winning actor. One of these stories is about South Africa's most famous ghost, the Uniondale Hitchhiker. Between the stories we are taken past various interesting places where paranormal activity has been recorded. The hair on my arms rises at Jeppe Boys where I know there is a ghost (in one of the hostels), the Kensington Sanitorium, some of the houses along Roberts Avenue, but my body hair is remarkably unperturbed by the Kensington Castle (built in 1911) which is also reputed to be haunted. Maybe it is because we don't go in - but we didn't go in to any of the other places.

    There are four points at which we get off the bus. The first is at Mike's Kitchen in Parktown. The official name of this building is “Eikelaan”. Here we get drinks and talk about the different types of presences. Our guide assures us that the ghost here is benign. I know the venue well because our Toastmasters Club used to meet there. I never liked to venture upstairs alone. As one goes up and down the stairs there is a point at which there is a chill which cannot be explained by the architecture of the building.

    We pass by the War Memorial, the Old Women's Goal and Johannesburg Fort, hearing stories of Daisy De Melcker, South Africa's famous female serial poisoner, en route. We pass by the old Johannesburg General Hospital, the new Johannesburg Hospital, the City Morgue and Arcadia.

    The second point at which we get off the bus is at Zoo Lake where we do dowsing. We learn to use dowsing sticks as lie detectors. They are remarkably accurate. Yes, this is inexplicable, but valid nevertheless. The stop is at Moyo's at Zoo Lake and it is not intended as a drinks stop. The drunks didn't mind that and drank while we dowsed.

    The third point at which we get off the bus is at the Troyeville Hotel. This is a no-frills, very reasonably priced place to get superb Portuguese cuisine. It is pre-ordered so that it is ready for us when we get there. Locals can always go back and enjoy a greater variety of this food at another time.

    Our fourth and final disembarking takes place at the Braamfontein Cemetery where we get to do a little cross country walk down to the various points at which get told interesting snippets of history.

    One of them relates to the Asiatic Law Amendment Ordinance of 1906 which said that Indians and Chinese were to register their presence and carry passes. Protestors got together and were addressed by Gandhi on the theme “violence begets violence', which was the speech that gave birth to passive resistance. One young Chinese man, Chow Kwai For, went and registered under the new law, unaware of the protest. When he realised what he had done he felt honour-bound to commit suicide. He was only 24 years old. We visit at his grave where his letter of apology is engraved, in Mandarin on the headstone.

    We hear about the grave of Enoch Sontonga but don't go past it. We end with another activity before walking back to the bus where we return to the starting point.

    This is a fun-filled evening and is largely what the party, not the guide, makes of it. If everyone enters into the, pardon the pun, “spirit” of things, then it will be a marvellous success. If one has crass and drunken local tourists then, unfortunately, the event will be somewhat less inspiring.

    It is NOT suitable for children and only those over 18 should attend. At R295.00 per person plus drinks, plus meal it is not a cheap evening, but it is a worthwhile one and it makes a fabulous team-building or year-end social activity. If one dresses up for the event, so much the better. Wear sensible shoes though.

    Visit the website www.mysteryghostbus.co.za or book on Computicket 0861 915 8000. Private group tours will be arranged for groups larger than 30. Public tours are on the last weekend of the month in Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg. Rain just adds to the chilling atmosphere of the event. Meet at 19:00, have drinks, depart at 20:00 return shortly after midnight.

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    Chancellor House: Mandela and Tambo's law office

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Oct 5, 2012

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    As part of encouraging ongoing efforts to uplife the Jo'burg CBD, I am happy to report the completed renovation of the Chancellor House building.

    This small, unprepossessing office building on a street corner opposite the Magistrate's Court is of major historical significance because it housed the offices of the law practice that Nelson Mandela operated with his friend and fellow struggle icon, Oliver Tambo, an arrangement which Mandela himself describes as the first black-owned business in South Africa. The building was purchased by the Essas, an Indian family from the then Northern Transvaal in 1943, and was let to Tambo and Mandela between 1952 and 1960 - quite a risk at the time, since it was technically illegal to rent to Africans in this area (and, Mandela concedes, their rent was sometimes not paid on time).

    For years, the Essa family refused to sell Chancellor House, and by the 1990s, the building had decayed to a derelict shell occupied by squatters. In 1997, the Essas proposed that the site be redeveloped as a car park, and the building was hastily given provisional monument status. The Johannesburg municipality subsequently stepped in, and expropriated the building, restoring it to its original design using original photos.

    The building will house a library and office space. An exhibit which details the building's history and links to both Mandela and Tambo is displayed in the windows facing out onto the street.

    To South Africans, the term 'Chancellor House' has a somewhat more murky meaning. A Google search will bring up a bland description of a "South African group of companies active in the mining, engineering, energy and information technology sectors". What is not immediately apparent is that Chancellor House is the investment vehicle for the African National Congress (ANC), whose specific mandate is to invest funds donated to the ANC to generate income for the ruling party. Since its inception, Chancellor House has been embroiled in a number of scandals which, at best, challenge the principles of good governance, including its involvement as a major beneficiary of the largest contract ever let by Eskom, South Africa's power generation parastatal.

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    The gorgeous golden rhino of Mapungubwe!

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Aug 31, 2013

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    One of the most exciting sculptures to be established in the Jo'burg CBD in the last couple of years is a replica of the gold rhino of Mapungubwe, which is located on Fox Street, just opposite the Hollard Street pedestrian mall. As it is mounted on a plinth at about head height, so it can be surprisingly easy to overlook.

    The Mapungubwe rhino is arguably one of the most significant artifacts ever discovered in South Africa and is a figure created by draping thinly beaten gold metal around a wooden frame and securing the gold using tiny nails. It was discovered in 1933 and was found at what is now the Mapungubwe World Heritage Site in Limpopo province (close to the corner where South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe meet).

    The rhino is estimated to be about 800 years old, and is a relic of the Mapungubwe society, which existed between about 1220 and 1290 A.D. It is a particularly interesting culture as, unlike the Bantu cultures that predate it, it is believed to be the first South African society to exhibit a rigid social hierarchy. The king occupied a hilltop fortress - supported by his subjects who occupied the surrounding lowland where they raised crops and livestock. A characteristic of Mapungubwe society was its sophisticated metalwork (both in gold and iron) and beautiful pottery, and items unearthed on the site indicate that Mapungubwe society actively traded with a number of other societies, including the Chinese, the Indians and the Arabs.

    The rhino is made of fibreglass but treated to appear as though it is metallic. It is hugely upscaled, as the original is only 12cm (about 4") long and about 6cm high.

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    The headframe that echoes Jo'burg's mining past

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Oct 5, 2012

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    Of all the efforts have been made to upgrade the Jo'burg CBD in recent years, probably the most successful from a tourism point of view have been the creation of the Hollard Street and Main Street precincts, which celebrate Jo'burg's rich mining heritage.

    Jo'burg experienced serious inner city decay in the 1990s, but the Marshalltown area in the south eastern corner of the CBD - adjacent to Ferreirasdorp where the first large scale mining took place in Jo'burg - fared better than most. This was principally due to the dogged determination of major companies such as Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Standard Bank who refused to vacate their traditional head offices and follow their peers to the perceived safety of Sandton. Instead of joining the exodus, these companies chose to participate in the upliftment of this area and worked closely with government to improve security. The first phase of the project saw the introduction of an extensive CCTV network and visible policing - which has resulted in a security guard per block - and as a result, crime levels in the area dropped immediately. The security initiatives were coupled with programmes to combat litter and develop amenities and tourist infrastructure.

    The most imposing new addition to this area has been the mine head frame that now stands on the western side of the corner of Sauer and Main Streets. These structures are constructed over the entrance to the mine shaft, and allow the winching of men and materials between surface and underground. This particular head frame was relocated from Langlaagte, a few kilometres west of the CBD, which was close to George Harrison's original gold find that triggered the start of the Gold Rush in 1886.

    At the base of this head frame is a memorial to the Struben brothers, which discovered the Main Reef Group in the late 1880s. This has proved to be the richest gold seam in the entire Witwatersrand gold deposit, which is itself the richest and most extensive gold field yet discovered anywhere in the world. In their time, Harry and Fred Struben were a formidable team, with Fred prospecting for gold-bearing reefs, whilst Harry handled the commercial and financial aspects of the business, and have the distinction of having had a suburb - Struben's Valley - named in their honour.

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