The 15 reasons you shouldn’t be scared of Johannesburg… or should.

People who visit Johannesburg from any other part of the country will always be overwhelmed by the fast pace and hum-drum of it all. This vast space of land with it’s complex social, economic, cultural, political and historic dynamic continues to evolve. However people may have the wrong idea about what exactly the city consists of. Here are a few pointers for the average young South African who doesn’t know Johannesburg very well.

  1. An ever-changing city: Johannesburg was founded on the mining industry. Prospectors traveled here in search of gold before the city was even declared “Johannesburg”. The city has always been at the forefront of innovation and new developments, on par with London and Paris in it’s earlier days. Today Johannesburg continues to gain international recognition as the heart of economic and technological development. The city is growing bigger and faster every day and it stands still for no man.

    THE ORIGINALS: Portraits of the pioneers of Johannesburg. They are on Display at Carlton Centre in Johannesburg CBD.
    THE ORIGINALS: Portraits of the pioneers of Johannesburg. They are on Display at Carlton Centre in Johannesburg CBD.
  1. The rich people: The highest percentage of the wealthiest people in South Africa reside in Johannesburg. According to a report by Business Tech the the wealthiest people of Johannesburg reside in areas such as Sandhurst and Houghton. If you’ve been to those areas, you are met with high walls and 24hr security. Intimidating to say the least. Conversely, the poor live in the open, on the streets – they are accessible.

    homeless (40 of 1)
    In a park in Johannesburg CBD, one can find groups of homeless people gathering to discuss future prospects of opportunities in the city.
  1. The Gyms: One would think that a gym is a place mainly enjoyed for sweating and looking attractive but scare tactics seem to seep into the most controlled spaces in Johannesburg. Muhammed Desai, a member of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement was thrown out of his local gym for wearing a t-shirt that showed his solidarity with Palestine. He was the asked to leave because fellow gym members found it offensive.
  1. The job market: Wealth streaming in from all sectors, Johannesburg is the city that people flock to from all over the world to make money. However, Johannesburg is also crawling with scams masquerading as employment opportunities. There are illegitimate companies that use the Internet to lure desperate people in for jobs. In many cases these scams ask their victims for money in order to secure their jobs in other cases the scams advertise jobs falsely and will have you handing out flyers instead of the office you were promised.
  1. Street culture:  It’s no secret that Johannesburg is host to a plethora of cultures all interacting on a daily basis. So much so that cultures are easily appropriated and distorted for the sake of cosmopolitan ideals, alienating people further and further from their roots.120bgr


  1. The taxi industry: The air of Downtown Bree and Noord Taxi ranks permeates with strong smells of urine on a hot day and sewage on a rainy one. This does not deter the working class from filling these ranks – jumping in and out of taxi’s, immersed in the hustle and bustle. These taxi ranks are also governed by relentless taxi officials always hovering in between lanes, policing which taxi you get into. If you give either of these officials any type of attitude, you’ll end up not getting a taxi at all.

    Bree Taxi rank destined for the Western Townships of Johannesburg.
  1. The foreigners: Foreigners are here to make a living. That’s all.

    A group of foreigners at the SANZAF refugee camp in Mayfair watch on as new survivors arrive. Many foreign people have fled from all over Johannesburg to various refugee camps in as xenophobic attacks spiral out of control.
    A group of foreigners at the SANZAF refugee camp in Mayfair watch on as new survivors arrive. Many foreign people have fled from all over Johannesburg to various refugee camps in as xenophobic attacks spiral out of control.
  1. Buildings: Johannesburg is home to the tallest building in Africa – The Carlton, located in the middle of the CBD. The view from the Carlton overlooks the beautiful Johannesburg skyline, a closer look and you will be able to spot the numbers of neglected and abandoned buildings. These buildings, although unfit for human habitation continue to be occupied by residents, endangering their health to get cover from the harsh city streets.listicle-40
  1. The youth: The youth of the Johannesburg have been deemed the drivers of change in the city. Heading their own businesses and movements by utilising social media to brand themselves, young people in Johannesburg are taking their futures into their own hands. Bloggers turned business owners such as Frypan Mfula and twitter personalities turned socialites such as Sadie Wiggles have made it big just by using the Internet to their advantage. Watch the space.
  1. The food: Bloggers will tell you that street food consists of Maboneng food stalls that sell Mexican food and Markets that sell coffee flavoured ice-cream but the only consistent type of food is cheap snacks that go for one rand. Sold by someone with a pop up crate store that you can find in any area of Johannesburg, no matter how far North.
  1. The environment: Johannesburg weather patterns are erratic and hard on your skin. Winters are dry and summers are wet. In addition to that, the city has gone through at least three tremors in the last three years.86-40
  1. Crime: South Africa may be known for its high crime rates and Johannesburg andi you haven’t been a victim to it, you know somebody who has. The city streets may be over-populated but it’s the quiet streets where there are few witnesses one should be equally afraid of.

    Johannesburg: Alleys in the CBD, sometimes used as shortcuts for people to get around easily because they’re less crowded than the pavement and the streets.
  1. The entertainment: Buzzing with hotspots such as Melville, Rosebank, Braamfontein and not to mention the famous Vilakazi street, one could never be bored in Johannesburg. But beware of the mundane company you may have to endure among these middle to upper class socialites. great dane2 (40 of 1)
  1. The uninvited guests: Once you’ve been in Johannesburg long enough, you’d understand that your racial identity is an important part of who you’re meant to be. Unfortunately if you’re not black or white, your ideas on race do not matter. Racial discussions in Johannesburg exclude any other race that is not black or white. Better pick a side.IMG_3429
  1. Safe Havens: Given all the reasons that Johannesburg is a scary place to be in, there are also spaces of safety that you can enjoy without feeling pressurised or fearful for your life… the malls. Where you won’t lose your life but you will spend all your money buying overpriced goods.

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