the local rugby cup final is being played tomorrow and my team the blue bulls are playing the free state , we have only lost one game this season and that they can thank the ref for we lost by 1 piont and it was the ref`s bad decision at the end of the game that gave them the 3 pionts to win by 1 but we cant win them all but tomorrow we will and make it three years in a row .......
The South West Township (Soweto) area of Johannesburg received its official name in 1963, but for many decades it had been a hot-bed of black activism against the oppressive rule of the white Apartheid regime. It came into prominance world-wide due to the civil disobediance actions which took place there in the years leading up to the formation of Nelson Mandela's black-ruled government of South Africa in the 1990s.
The area is still a sprawling complex of mansions and squatter houses, with an official population of 900,000 but more likely in the millions. My wife took a guided bus tour though Soweto while I was busy at the conference and she was amazed at the diversity in housing and living styles that they observed.
Pretoria is actually known as The Jacaranda City, with its 70,000+ trees of this species lining its streets! Although this tree, which can grow up to about 10 m (33 feet) is native to South and Central America, it is widely used the world over as an ornamental tree in dry tropical climates. The brilliant blue-violet colour of its flowers has impressed me ever since I first saw them along the streets of Luanshya, Zambia where I first worked in Africa in the early 1970s. They always bring back great memories for me! Here, our tour group has stopped on a street near the University of Pretoria to admire the foliage before we head up into the hills to tour the Union Buildings.
Jacaranda trees bloom after the early Spring trees had already done their thing, so you get to pay more attention to them. When the blooms finally drop, the ground is covered in a layer of violet-blue! It is also said that, if a falling petal lands on your head as you are walking beneath a tree, you will be blessed with good luck!
Safari garden Center is amazing. I went there with a couple of my friends to have a look see, and ended up spending almost a full day there. They have an excellent outdoor Cafe & Bar, conference facilities, wonderful scenic walkways... and of course, lots of plants!
See my travelogue for more pictures & stuff!
Marabastad lies on the fringe of Pretoria Central. At this stage it is not a very safe area, but there are plans to revive this area.
Marabastad was a culturally diverse community. Like the residents of other racially diverse areas in South Africa, such as District Six, the inhabitants of Marabastad were relocated to single-race townships further away from the city centre. These removals were due to Apartheid laws like the Group Areas Act. This part of the town was not bulldozed, but it retained many of its original buildings, and became primarily a business district, with most shops still owned by the Indians who had also lived there previously.
The black residents of Marabastad were relocated to Atteridgeville (1945), the Coloured residents to Eersterus (1963), and the Indian residents to Laudium (1968).
There are plans to revive once-picturesque Marabastad, and to reverse years of urban decay and neglect.
I do hope that this will happen, as it can be a very lively and interesting area to visit.
An exibition, about the history of Marabastad, can be found in the Culture History Museum (see tip).
The Irene Market is held twice a month on Saturdays and is one of the better markets in Pretoria (maybe the best). Only self-made or manufactured items/goods are for sale. A very wide range of goods are on sale, including art, foodstuff, ceramics, african art, textile etc.
Unfortunately the market closes at 14h00, and it is best to go early.
See website for more details.
It is easy to do several day trips from Pretoria.
Johnnesburg is only 55km from Pretoria, which makes day trips quite easy. If you have time to visit only one museum, try to visit the Apartheid Museum in the South of Johnnesburg. It is a well designed museum with great audiovisual material. It is quite comprehensive and gives a very good account of the apartheid era. It does not "soften" what it was about and is can be quite disturbing. On entrance you will receive a ticket which classify you as black or white, and you will enter the museum accordingly.
There is a good museum shop on the way out.
Like most museums in SA, entrance fees are minimal (ZAR25 = about 3USD)
Jan Smuts' House in Irene (a southern suburb of Pretoria) is a serene place to spend a couple of hours. Added to that, you have an opportunity to gain an understanding of General Jan Smuts, possibly South Africa's most prominent international statesman prior to Mandela.
Smuts was a paradox - an Afrikaaner who fought against the British in the Boer War, yet he was a total Anglophile and royalist who commanded Allied Forces in both the First and Second World Wars. Many people would consider it unlikely that a South African could have been such a prominent world leader in the 20th century, yet he was one of the chief negotiators of the Treaty of Paris at the end of World War I and played an instrumental role in the establishment of the League of Nations (the predecessor to the United Nations). He was eventually voted out of power by a narrow margin in 1948, and was replaced by D.F. Malan of the National Party, who subsequently launched the disastrous system of grand apartheid. Make no mistake - Smuts was no saint - but this wiley fox is a complex and compelling character who provides a very different perspective on South Africa's early 20th century history that you probably won't get to appreciate anywhere else.
Smuts hobnobbed with the influential and famous during his time as Prime Minister and even had royalty such as the present Queen and her parents to stay - which doesn't sound like much of an achievement until you understand that he accommodated them in his personal home (rather than a state residence). Even more remarkably, the house in question was a modest wood and corrugated iron farmhouse that had been originally fabricated in Britain and was bought on auction at the end of the Boer War (although admittedly, considerably extended and upgraded thereafter). The spirit of his wife Ouma (literally 'Grandma') - who was a very unassuming woman who hated the limelight - is apparent in the modest furnishings.
The house is much as he left it, and the walls are covered with fascinating photos that conjur up the life and times of a most remarkable man. The displays are well pitched in that they provide a good overview of his life, but it is the visual images - which present a veritable 'who's who' of celebrities of the first half of the 20th century - juxtaposed with a very simply furnished house that really makes the impact.
The house is surrounded by a tranquil garden and it is possible to take a short walk up to Smuts Koppie (translated as 'little hill', although 'koppie' actually means 'little head' in Afrikaans), where Smuts used to retreat to think: this is where the ashes of both Smuts and his wife were scattered.
There is a cafe (which was rather good when I was last there) and the property also hosts a flea market (open on the first and third Saturday mornings of the month and particularly vibrant in the run up to Christmas), so you could easily combine both attractions if you visited over a weekend.
Assuming that you're driving, Irene is also quite close to the Voortrekker monument: given the antipathy between Smuts and the National Party leaders who succeeded him, it would be particularly interesting to combine both attractions in a day! It's also easily accessible from Freedom Park, which would provide an interesting contrast with a post-Apartheid view on South African history.
Given the other historical attractions that Pretoria has to offer, this would be easy to overlook if you're hot and tired, but I think that to miss out on Jan Smuts' house would be tragic from a historical and aesthetic perspective. Presuming that you're staying in Johannesburg, do yourself a favour and make this the last stop on your Pretoria foray: you won't be disappointed.
Upon nearing Pretoria you cannot miss the huge monument you will spot in the distance, this is the Voortrekker Monument.
This monument was built in honour of the thousands of Pioneers, that left the Cape.
Well worth a visit for some history about the Great Trek and some South African History.
Admission to the Monument is R25 per person and its open from 8am - 5pm between May and August and between September and April it will be open between 8am and 6pm.
On the western outskirts of Johannesburg is the Cradle of Mankind and the Sterkfontein caves. Here paleoanthropologists discovered ancient skeletons leading scientists to believe that mankind might have originated in Africa.
The caves are certainly not of the most impressive in the world but the tour around them is fascinating.
When in Pretoria or Johannesburg, visit the Rietvlei Nature Reserve, just north of Centurion. At 3800 hectares, it is one of the largest urban nature reserves in the world! The Reserve boasts a plethora of animals, including the worlds largest antelope, the eland, zebra, red hartebeest, springbok, waterbuck, reedbuck, ostrich, buffalo, white rhino, bushpig, black-backed jackal, mountain reedbuck, oribi, grey duiker, steenbuck, brown hyena, porcupine, springhare, aardwolf, banded mongoose, hippos and cheetah.
There are also 272 bird species, including Grebes, Cormorants, Anhingas, Herons, Egrets, Bitterns, Ibis, Spoonbills, Ducks, Geese, Swans, Hawks, Eagles, Kites, Secretary-bird, Pheasants, Partridges, Guineafowl, Rails, Gallinules, Coots, Bustards, Avocets, Stilts, Thick-knees, Plovers, Lapwings, Sandpipers, Gulls, Terns, Pigeons, Doves, Cuckoos, Swifts, Kingfishers, Bee-eaters, Woodhoopoes, Scimitar-bills, Larks, Swallows, Wagtails, Pipits, Bulbuls, Cisticolas, Old World Warblers, Old World Flycatchers, Sunbirds, Spiderhunters, White-eyes, Shrikes, Bushshrikes, Crows, Jays, Magpies, Starlings, Old World Sparrows, Weavers, Waxbills, Indigobirds, Siskins and Crossbills.
Rietvlei is an ideal and very reasonably priced day-trip.
This museum is still in development. One of the outstanding exhibitions, would be the art gallery. It has works of various South African arstists, including paintings and sculptures. Some works of Pierneef is on display.
Another part focusses on Marabastad, a part of Pretoria City, and the impact apartheid had.
A craft section displays 12 different crafts by women of South Afica over a time period.
It is a small museum and will take only 1 - 2 hours to visit.
It has a good museum shop with quality items on sale. It also has a restaurant.
Pretoria has a fantastic zoo. Although I prefer to go to one of our many game reserves, the zoo offers a different experience.
You can book night-visits, which is a very nice experience, as you get to see many nocturnal animals, which is not active during the day.
There is a craft market in the street, outside the entrance to the zoo.
The zoo has a very good website, which gives a lot of up to date information.
Night visits should be booked in advance (see details below)
Oktober fest? Yes, Pretoria's (South Africa) very own and genuinely german Beer fest. Hosted by the Deutsche Schule Pretoria, it mirrors the popular festival held in germany with beer tents, bretzel, schaschlik and polka bands (also rock bands). Located in the heart of the large thriving german community in Pretoria, it is held at the begining of september (September fest?) to coincide with traditional spring celebrations. Although not as famous and extensive as in germany, it none the less offers an authentic german atmosphere with a distinctly african flavour.
Stayed twice, two weeks apart for 2 nights and one night respectively. Rooms are very nice, roomy...more
The Court Classique is centrally located within Pretoria and offers a great base from which to...more
The Courtyard is part of a wider chain of lodges. Courtyard Arcadia - within the Embassies district...more