The Johannesburg of the 1990s is a thing of the past.
Its birth during a Gold Rush in the late 19th century was characterized by boundless energy. In only seven years, its production of the world’s gold grew from 0 to 23 percent.
And now, that energy is back. The city that once stood for all that was wrong with the old South Africa has been infused with the energy and optimism of the “Born Frees” (the first generation to come of age in democracy).
The heart of the city has been revitalized and greened. Historic buildings have been reimagined as spacious residential lofts, a serious coffee culture has emerged, and the city pulsates with the energy of entrepreneurs, foodies, designers, musicians, and artists.
Its legacy is significant. In the first half of the 20th century it shaped the lives of two longtime residents, both young lawyers who would both become giants of the 20th century – Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.
In the latter part of the 20th century, some of the most heinous acts of the apartheid-era regime were carried out in Johannesburg’s townships.
And in the last part of the century, in nearby jacaranda-laden Pretoria, Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as the first president of a newly-free South Africa. It was the largest gathering of heads of state since President Kennedy’s funeral, and over a billion of us watched, teary-eyed, as it was broadcast on TV all over the world.
In order to better understand the lessons of recent South African history, many of our clients want to see Soweto Township or the equally interesting and much less visited Alexandra Township, as well as the excellent Apartheid Museum. The Constitutional Court is perhaps the most potent symbol of democracy in South Africa.
But the population of this area predates the past few centuries. In fact, it goes back some 3.3 million years. Over 40% of hominid remains that have been found in the world have been found in the Sterkfontein Valley, outside of Johannesburg, in one of the world’s most significant fossil sites. We can arrange for you to visit this site with a paleoanthropologist working on the site, as well as the excellent Origins Museum.
And today’s Johannesburg (or Jo’burg, or Jozi, as the locals say) is changing with all the energy of that first Gold Rush.
We can arrange for you to visit great up-and-coming neighborhoods like Braamfontein and Maboneng or to sit at the chef’s table at Johannesburg’s hottest restaurant.
The arts scene is multi-faceted and we are able to offer expert insight into the world’s largest consolidated body of African art. If you are interested in contemporary art, we can arrange for you to have dinner with the owner of South Africa’s most prominent gallery, to visit an artists’ residency program out of town, or to gain entrée to the studio of South Africa’s preeminent living artist.
Or if you just want the chef’s table at Johannesburg’s hottest restaurant, just let us know.