Insider's guide to... Johannesburg
Sunday 10 September 2000
What's the weather like now?
What's the weather like now?
Perfect. It's the end of winter, a season with zero rainfall, bright crisp days, sharp golden sunlight and the jacaranda trees with their mauve confetti of petals are about to start flowering.
What do the locals complain about?
Sky-high rates of crime and violence, which are frequently, and with no justification at all, blamed by all Jo'burgers (black and white) on the thousands of immigrants from the rest of Africa who are seeking their fortune in the "Golden City", giving rise to some hair-raising examples of vigilantism.
Who's the talk of the town?
The kwaito stars, whose tinny local brand of house music is striking a chord with black township teens. Their nihilistic message and violent lifestyle attract scores of column inches every week in the local press, especially the gossipy Sunday Times, which relishes their racy and bizarre lifestyles and features everyone from gunslinging musos who have been killed in shootouts to one who has opened a hair salon.
What's the cool drink?
It's no surprise that in this hyperactive city, caffeine makes the running, drunk either as espresso in coffee bars, or in the form of Red Bull. Energade, a disgusting local version of Lucozade, is heavily punted among the Health and Racquet Club set.
What are people eating?
Maize meal with sauce in the townships, while in northern suburban restaurants you can take your pick. Sushi joints with revolving help-yourself bars are very popular at the moment in the leafy suburbs of Norwood, Rosebank and Sandton.
What's the latest outrageous stuff on TV?
The press greedily feeds on the Jerry Springer Show's exposure of messed- up private lives.
Where wouldn't the locals dream of going?
To Soweto or any of the other African townships. The city centre, once the financial hub of southern Africa, is also out of bounds and the hundreds of hotels and skyscrapers that are not standing empty are being occupied by squatters.
Where are the locals going that tourists don't know about?
Melville, a gentrified former mineworkers' suburb that is now the place for media folk and arty types. Seventh and Main streets are lined with restaurants, coffee bars and nightclubs and jammed at night with cars. The Ratz Bar is the hip spot if you're under 30; the Bassline is one of the country's great jazz venues, and can make the unusual boast that it's actually popular with musicians. Regular performers include Courtney Pine (whenever he's in South Africa) and Abdullah Ibrahim (whenever they'll have him).
Where are the chic people doing their shopping?
What's the trendy place to escape for the weekend? Sodwana Bay for scuba diving on the KwaZulu-Natal coast, preferably in a 4 x 4 vehicle so you can drive right on to the beach and don't have to walk the 50m from the car park.
* Tony Pinchuck is co-author of 'Rough Guide to South Africa'
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax
- 1 Shia LaBeouf claims he was raped during #IAMSORRY art installation performance
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achieving...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: A rapidly growing Hotel ...
£15000 - £16800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Tyre Technician / Mechanic is...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion the Largest Independent Motor...