Johannesburg or Joburg, as the locals call it, is completely different from what I was expecting about one of the most populated urban areas in the world. First, the city is extremely flat and extended. Buildings rarely go higher than 20 floors even in the business center. Secondly, nature is everywhere, trees and grass are occupying all the vacant spaces in the streets. The city looks more like a peaceful suburb than a place where you can be mugged at every crossroad.
However, the poverty is omnipresent. At every traffic light, young men are begging for money and groups of people are picking up trash along the roads. Even if the Apartheid ended 23 years ago in 1994, black and white people are still living in different part of the city and experience different living conditions.
I personally didn't witness any violence during my stay but I could feel its shadow around me. Houses are surrounded by high walls with multiple layers of electric wires on top of it. Every local is advising you not to walk on the street once the sun is down and to avoid public transport. Hopefully, Uber is available and is extremely efficient. You usually get a Uber pretty quickly if you manage to find one of the rare free wifi hotspots around the city. However, their drivers are recently victims of extremely violent attacks.
The clues of the extreme violence Joburg’s inhabitants faced and are still facing today can be seen in the well-curated museums and the vibrant colors, strong wording and provocative themes used by the new artists of this generation. One can not deny the cathartic power of Art to help humans overcome the trauma of their history and of their condition.
Thanks to @sarah.frances.taylor for showing me Joburg and unlocking for me the doors of the terrestrial Paradise 😉
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