I have been waiting very impatiently for an important event here in Johannesburg – the blooming of the Jacarandas. These trees are scattered across the city, and every October they erupt in blossoms, turning Joburg into a purple wonderland. Jacaranda’s are not a native African tree, but their surprising beauty has become a symbol for the city. Continue reading “Jacarandas”
I’ve never been good at picking favorites. I can’t name a favorite movie or book or band or even country. Usually, my favorite is something I haven’t even tried yet, simply for the novelty of it. The same goes for bars and restaurants; I’ve never really had a “local hangout.” Why go to a place you’ve already tried when you can try something new? But lately, I have found myself going back again and again to one place in Johannesburg, and I think that means I do have a favorite hangout here – 44 Stanley. Continue reading “A few of My Favorite Things: 44 Stanley”
To use a very South African phrase, Spencer’s education at Wits has been a bit “hectic” for the last couple of weeks. That’s because all classes have been postponed and the campus shut down on account of student protests under the banner #FeesMustFall.
When not busy traveling and blogging, I have been working on an investigative report about the dangerous practice of informal gold mining here in South Africa. Here is the final story, published by GroundUp, a news website focused on social justice news.
Lethal toll of informal gold mining
While deaths on formal mines have come down, zama-zama fatalities have gone up
With 13.2 million people living in Johannesburg’s province of Gauteng, it’s no surprise that the city is not exactly a refuge for wild animals (these creatures excepted). No elephants wander the streets, no zebras munch on our grass. The roars of the lions at dusk from the zoo down the hill are the closest thing we’ve got to real African wildlife in our neighborhood.
It’s election day here in South Africa, and the polling station is right up the road from our house. Our landlady and friend Lauren brought me along when she voted, so I got to see South African democracy in action.
Spencer’s parents and sister are visiting, so we are trying to show them as much of Joburg as we possibly can in a few days. In doing so, we discovered just how eclectic and diverse this place is. It was, as my Father-in-law described it, an urban adventure.
The South African International Rugby Team, known as the Springboks or simply ‘The Bokke’, recently took on Ireland on a crisp winter evening in Johannesburg. Ireland’s top international squad is currently on a three-week, three-city tour of the country to face the Springboks, and South Africa will travel to Great Britain later this year to face the rest of the UK. The first test of three took place last weekend in Cape Town, where Ireland edged out South Africa 26-20. Little did Cici and I know, our first experience with International Rugby would result in one of the most exciting comebacks I’ve witnessed in all of sport.
One of the best things about being an aunt (and presumably a parent, too) is that it gives you an excuse to indulge in all the kiddy things that adults on their own don’t usually find themselves doing. When my two-year old nephew was here last week, we got to swing on swings, ride on a see-saws, and do all kinds of other fun stuff that we hadn’t done in years.
Just a short drive outside of Johannesburg, unassuming tracts of farmland and rolling hills hide the scientific garden of eden. Here, an area of just 180-square miles has produced some of the oldest hominid fossils ever found. More than 40% of human ancestor fossils found in the world have been unearthed here, and they have provided vital clues in piecing together the story of where humans came from. It was from this sites that science was able to determine that all of humanity came to be in Africa. The scientific discoveries made here, some as old as 3.5 million years, and the discoveries that continue to be made in the area, are why Cradle of Humankind is included as part of one of South Africa’s eight UNESCO world heritage sites.