Posts tagged Soweto
Johannesburg. Jo’burg. Jozi. Egoli. City of Gold.
The largest city in South Africa has many different names. Often considered a poor cousin to Cape Town as far as tourist attractions go, Johannesburg is a vibrant city, buzzing with an energy and a vibe completely different to anywhere else in South Africa. If you take into account Ekhurhuleni, the West Rand, Soweto and Lenasia, Johannesburg’s 10 million inhabitants are spread over an area far larger than greater London.
“The Joburg Book – A Guide to the City’s History, People and Places“, edited by Nechama Brodie, is a collection of a variety of stories on Johannesburg, written and contributed by a number of journalists and academics.
In Chapter One we are taken along a historical journey of the alchemy of Johannesburg, the origins of man, rock art, the iron age and the early boer (farmer) settlements. Those of us schooled before 1994 may just shudder as the book brings back memories of “The Great Trek” history lessons!
As we move through Chapters Two and Three we learn how Johannesburg came about through the discovery of gold, the gold rush and the early Johannesburg boom town. The main body of the book examines the City of Johannesburg and its suburbs, paying equal attention to both the township settlements such as Alexandra and the economic hubs of Sandton (home to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange) and the CBD. Chapter Fourteen is entirely dedicated to the informal settlements that frequently dot the Johannesburg landscape.
Despite the multiple authors, “The Joburg Book” is an excellent book, filled with great writings and great illustrations and, for those residents and visitors that complatin that there is nothing to do in Johannesburg, almost every page contains and insert on places to visit and things to do.
Whether you are interested in knowing the origins of Johannesburg, the history of the gold fields, or how Rissik, Fox and Marshall Streets got their name, this book will answer all your questions and more. You’ll even learn how you can cook a fantastic Indian Biryani for 800 of your closest friends (Page 286). From the stories we never knew (Sandton children being educated in Hillbrow) to those that made the news (Max the gorilla getting shot), The Joburg Book is a fabulous read for young and old alike.
We have one copy of The Joburg Book to give away to a lucky EarthTravelUnlimited reader, thanks to the great guys at Exclusive Books. Simply email with your name, email address, phone number and location (within South Africa only) and answer the following easy question:
Entries close Friday 19th November…..good luck!
Soweto. You’ve probably heard about it. What you’ve heard has probably been negative. After all, Soweto is the largest black residential area in the country. As a traveller to South Africa, you’ll be warned not to step foot in Soweto. You could be raped, mugged, assaulted or even murdered.
Yet the truth is far from that portrayed by the international media. Soweto is a thriving metropolis and, as is the case with any large city, there are areas you want to avoid, on the whole the people are friendly and the vibe is truly African. Having grown in popularity following the 2010 World Cup, Soweto is home to adventure sports, traditional dining, historical landmarks – and the Soweto Marathon.
Now 20 years old, the Soweto Marathon attracted thousands of runners from across Southern Africa. The 42.2km route starts next to Soccer City, the landmark stadium that recently hosted the 2010 World Cup final. The race then winds its way through the streets of Soweto, taking runners into the very heart of township life.
Race organisers have taken much abuse regarding a general lack of organisation at the Soweto Marathon and there is certainly a long way to go before the race is regarded as a match for the New York or London marathons. However, it is still a uniquely African race and my partner Davina Toale completed the Soweto Marathon on Sunday 7th November in her first attempt at running a marathon. Despite the challenges, Davina had some great things to say about the race.
“Yes, the organisation was shocking, yes for those of us at the back, we had no cold water and no, there wasn’t anything to eat until the fruit lorry at the end. Oh and after running/walking the 42.2kms, I still had to walk up stairs & around the back somewhere for a t-shirt.
The Soweto Marathon yesterday was my first marathon and even though it wasn’t organised especially well it was the best first marathon I could have run. I’d been warned at the Pasta Party on Friday night by previous runners that there would be no food and the water would be warm by the time us back runners got to the watering points so I wasn’t expecting the Ritz.
The runners were amazing, by 34kms when I’d decided to walk the last 8kms, I met the most amazing people who motivated & inspired each other to carry on even though we were all hurting. I’d caught an informal bus at around the 18km mark which was a life saver. I chanted “easy” with everyone in that bus till about the 30km mark when I fell off the bus.
At around 36kms, I met others who had fallen off the same bus & we walked together & picked up others along the way.
So yes, the organisation was awful but the people of Soweto are brilliant ambassadors for South Africa as they stood outside their houses with their hosepipes, buckets of water and packets of Cerebos salt. At one of the watering points, there was no water or coke anywhere to be found but the amazing people who lived near the watering point had taken the cold water out of their fridges and poured it into the left over Coke cups & were handing them out to all of us hurting.
It was fantastic.
Pappi, who I walked with from 36km to the end had run the marathon a few times before & he was telling me what was in store for me (one big hill & then flat). His son who had run the 10km earlier came to find his dad & he walked with us till the end & ran the last 800 metres with me. He was an inspiration and I never got to thank him.
So again, yes the organisation was shocking & yes, I had to walk for another km to get my t-shirt but I enjoyed every minute (well nearly every minute) of the Soweto Marathon & I will run it again next year as long as I can.”
The people of Soweto showed tremendous heart and spirit in assisting the runners wherever possible and as Davina said, served as brilliant ambassadors for South Africa. If you’re a travelling runner and are looking for a new marathon experience, why not come to South Africa for the 2011 Soweto Marathon? We promise you a marathon like no other!