Fall in love with Joburg

THE JOBURG BOOK - A guide to the city's history, people & places - Nechama Brodie
THE JOBURG BOOK - A guide to the city's history, people & places - Nechama Brodie

For the launch of a new book about Johannesburg the publishing company Pan Macmillan organised a tour of the city.

For the launch of a new book about Johannesburg the publishing company Pan Macmillan organised a tour of the city.

The Joburg Book is a thrilling work about the history of the City of Gold. It is edited by Nechama Brodie.

The tour started at the posh Rosebank Hotel and ended at the Bus Factory in Newtown. As we drove through the city Brodie narrated the history of the various places.

Doornfontein was once called the "swagger suburb" and was one of the poshest areas of early Johannesburg.

It then evolved into a "middle-class, middle-income Jewish enclave". Today it's a rundown, "pitiful slum in the inner city".

The decay started in the 1930s when black migrant workers moved into the area.The yards were called "skokiaan yards" because of the trade of illegally brewed beer. The women-dominated brewing business gave rise to the "stockfair", now known as the "stokvel".

Said Brodie, "The workers were new to the city and tried to adapt. Though they lived in crowded places it was amazing how they tried to make it home. Some families shared a small room but had a piano in it that everyone was proud of."

Doornfontein is changing again with the construction of the Bus Rapid Transit and housing by the Johannesburg Development Agency.

The book shows that Joburg is not static but has changed over time and will keep on changing.

Another interesting stop was the 100-year-old Drill Hall in Joubert Park. This is where the Treason Trial started in the late 1950s. The trial was moved to Pretoria for security reasons.

It was also a popular dance venue in the 1930s and late 1970s. Now it is a library for children living in the inner city.

Before reading the book I was getting tired of Joburg. Now I have fallen in love with the city all over again.

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