Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Jozi, my city
See the blood of my cat?
Before I launch into another 'hectic' posting about the city I live in. Before I tell you about how my cat sliced himself open jumping through the spike infested security protected walls I live behind and is now in ICU. I just want to say that I am aware that there has been a general tone of gloom and oh my god where do i live? in these posts. I am aware.
So, I have to do this.
10 reasons why I love and live in Jozi
1. Its where I was born. I think its important to connect with the place you were born. Right now, I live quite close to the site of Marymount hospital, immortalised in Ivan Vladislavic's fantastic book about Jozi, Portrait with Keys.
2. The big old stately oaks and jacarandas. The fact that its an urban human-made forest.
3.Sushi. Food security was a big issue for me growing up. First in the bush where we competed with a variety of creatures for our meagre veggie crop, and the nearest shops were 3 - 4 hours on a very bad road. Then boarding school where bolshi boys conspired to keep 'seconds' off your plate. I never take it for granted here. I marvel at shelves full of glowing vegetables. I love sushi.
4. Hanging at the Newtown Cultural Precinct, outside the Market theatre, watching glossy young actresses and muzos with overnight dreadlocks being cooler than thou.
5. Street fashion. Downtown babes in kneehighs and reclaimed camo. The Congolese girls on Louis Botha who smile at me and say " I love your sunglassses."
6. The shy Malawian fabric cutters at the Oriental Plaza. Especially the one upstairs. When I greet him in Chichewa he looks over his shoulder, leans forward and says "where did you learn that language?"
7. It's raucous past - fortunes made and lost, tavern brawls and deals, chancers and whores with golden um, thighs. One day I'll write a sccreenplay about the wild south of Jozi town.
8. The sunsets are radical - pollution and dust in the west make for some spectacular evening pyrotechnics
9. You know, really, the mine dumps do have a special kind of beauty of their own.
10. You can shop at robots (that's what we call street lights). Unless you're boycotting Chinese goods in which case there's nothing for you. ANd I love that the beautiful faced man at the Emmarentia golf course robot no longer has such a bad lame leg, becuase residents of the area clubbed together and bought him a series of surgical procedures. Yeah, its a city of dog eat dog (fence eat cat) money grubbing capitalists. But there are some good souls here. Like the lady who brought the R25 she couldn't afford and gave it to one of the refugee camps as the only donation she could manage, but which she felt compelled to give.
11. The city is home to Ivan Vladislavic, author of Portrait with Keys, master observer, recorder of urban detail. Read the book, and understand why its possible to love Joburg, with her spikey razor wire and fake Tuscany suburbs.
Eish, Jozi, my city, what can I say, you're beautiful.