Published4 Jan 2010
Like a net; Egoli collects the brightest stars of the dark constellation, coming to chip away at her gold and seeking her diamonds
Its beacon of light: the coke tower, now the vodacom tower with its prostitutes, and hustlers, Joburg proudly displays her disparities, even in the scenic Joubert Park with its whites only benches and likewise drinking fountains.
My mother told me stories of batoned police keeping the peace in the town centre. I remember riot police, enforcing the law, and keeping the pavements safe. Back then there were no street vendors from Ghana and Mozambique selling roots and herbs, or Chinese traders vending golden watches and sunglasses.
Like a magnet Jozi transfixes the country bumpkin, fresh off the train and teaches him to wield a knife, as he slips into the seat of his newly acquired German-crafted, four-wheeled status symbol. Oranges, pears, bananas, and avocados tumble to the ground as a father of four looses his pulse in the wake of Jakes and his crews´ scrambling feet-cuoshioned in the high stepping bright white All Star trainers; as red syrup seeps in to the concrete sidewalk.
Deeper and deeper below, the sound of the pneumatic drill comes to an abrupt halt as an army of sixteen blackened faces burrows further in search of a slight twinkle in the dark. Their black voices beat on the army of white ear drums above with their hands on their hips.
In the Newtown District, the new generation, the first generation, of black-diamonds* sips cocktails, and strokes silk-clad thighs, while signing million rand contracts in the full glory of the African sun. They... we, smile, and the African sky smiles back. After all we are the new precious article of this Southern Africa Capital. The new kings and queens driving capital and industry on the very streets where our grandparents drove wheel barrows. We spit instructions in English, Sotho, and Venda, while receiving concurrence in Afrikaans, Xhosa and the almighty Zulu.
On either end; Alexandra and the infamous Soweto townships buttress this powerhouse of African modernity. In these outskirts of Johannesburg the young and old continue the waiting game for fathers and mothers to return to these battlegrounds where dreams are dashed and schemes realised.
* A marketing term describing the group of young black (not including Indians or coloureds) South Africans who make up the middle class (well-educated, wealthy, salaried, in suitable employment, creditworthy, property and car owners, aspirant, with confidence in themselves and in the future).