Soweto makeover blitz

WILL TRAVEL: Workers push trolleys at the new Jabulani Mall in Soweto. Pic. Antonio Muchave.26/19/06. © Sowetan.
WILL TRAVEL: Workers push trolleys at the new Jabulani Mall in Soweto. Pic. Antonio Muchave.26/19/06. © Sowetan.

The wheels of change are in full motion in Soweto. This I noticed as I meandered along the Old Potchefstroom Road all the way to Jabulani Mall.

The wheels of change are in full motion in Soweto. This I noticed as I meandered along the Old Potchefstroom Road all the way to Jabulani Mall.

If there was a decent landscape, tourists would mistake the township for a suburb, save for the trees that darkies still chop down at the slightest provocation.

But then again, township residents have not been educated on meeting mother nature halfway.

I almost missed the mall on my left, lost in this thought. Panicky about whether I was on the wrong path, the penny dropped to follow the crowds. And there it proudly stood, all glittering with lights and sporadic Christmas adornments.

The Jabulani Mall is no collection of cheap stores heaped together to minimise the black faces in the suburban malls. It can give most malls in white areas a run for their money.

I was still sceptical, thinking that white folks still want to define us. I wanted to see if there were lifestyle-enriching outlets that have set Sandton City and Cresta malls apart from shopping centres like Daveyton Centre and Tembisa Plaza.

I told myself that if I saw one meat market, I'd get out of there. And then I found myself involuntarily making a dead break.

A driver in a car that had seen better days had done a sudden dead stop because he had spotted a perfect parking bay on his left. No indicator lights used.

Can you really take the ghetto out of a tsotsi, I wondered in anger? Using the east wing of the mall I was welcomed by nothing less than sophistication. Mainstream retail outlets are streamlined for every shopper's convenience.

And, if like me, you missed out on the opening specials a week ago, there are still shops that didn't manage to get rid of the opening stock. As a result, a spree that would have cost me a body limb asked for a fraction.

But the township being what it is, it was not short of suspicious faces eyeing my Gucci bag.

The Jabulani Mall has certainly enriched most households by providing employment to locals, but for those still down on their luck, survival is directly dependent on other people's handbags. It was in that spirit that I left my parcels in the shop to investigate the mall further.

Call me paranoid but before long, there were new scar-faced characters eyeing my bag, forcing me into the nearest Fego coffee shop - and what a Sandton service I was treated to.

My verdict is, give a township dweller quality life and he returns the favour right back.

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