The article below forms part of Mike Alfred's series on Joburg personalities from the first decade of the 21st century. Click here to view Kathy Munro's fantastic introduction and here to view the series index. The stories were written in 2005/6.
Streets, Townships and Suburbs
The town of Calvinia is situated south of the Hantam mountains. The name connects it to the early inhabitants of the area, the Khoekhoen, who probably called the place Hantam due to the abundance of the plant Pelargonium biflorium, which they called Heyntama.
On Saturday 16th February, Chinatown in Cyrildene put on its festive finery and glamour costumes. The colour red predominated and red symbolises happiness. The Chinatown in Cyrildene was celebrating the Chinese New Year in style with the biggest and best of street parties.
In the article below, journalist Lucille Davie reveals some of the forgotten and fascinating history of the Johannesburg suburb of Linden. The piece was originally published on the City of Joburg's website on 14 September 2004. Click here to view more of Davie's work.
In the article below, journalist Lucille Davie reveals the rich history of Lonehill in Sandton. She also uncovers some wonderful details about the places, spaces and people of Sandton before it became the financial capital of South Africa. The piece first appeared on the City of Joburg's website on 25 February 2003. Click here to view more of Davie's work.
Dube is the name of a popular township in Soweto, but on a larger scale Dube is a well-known Nguni surname. However, in nature the name belongs to an animal, e-dube – a lovely, cheeky one with bold black and white stripes, the zebra. Here follows an exploration of the story of the Dube Township, Soweto’s own zebra. It is bound to reveal a few secrets and highlights how the Dube history differs from that of other Soweto townships. There are however, also similarities and a common apartheid and struggle past.
Heritage encompasses all that we experience in everyday life. It is far more fluid in how it is experienced by society than what we perceive it to be. It is where ideas of individual identity and the role of nation states connect. It is who we are as individuals and how we relate to one another in society.
Killarney is one of the great historic suburbs of Johannesburg. With its majestic buildings from different eras, there is a great case for it to be declared a heritage area. The article below, written by journalist Lucille Davie, is packed with fascinating details on the people, history and architecture of a majestic neighbourhood. The piece was originally published on the City of Joburg's website on 18 January 2012. Click here to view more of Davie's work.
Cultural history is plagued by the plague. The Black Death stalks through history pages captivating and horrifying us at the same time, even Shakespeare used the threat of the plague in his plays to curse his characters. Most modern humans see the plague as something of the past, a historical disease far removed from modern day living and experience.
However the plague has once again raised its head.
In the article below, Norah Henshilwood traces the early history of Claremont and reveals some of her memories of the suburb. The piece first appeared in the 1976 edition of Restorica, the old journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation, today the Heritage Association of South Africa. Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish.
The weekend of the 24/25 June 2017 saw the launch of the Jozi Walks initiative of the Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA). Individuals, community organizations, tourism companies and NGOs joined hands in offering a series of free and innovative walks through Johannesburg, north, south, east and west. It was exciting, fun and showed off Jozi at its best over a two day celebration of the Jane Jacobs walk my city philosophy.
Potchefstroom is home to the longest avenue of oak trees in South Africa. The grand oaks stretch for almost 7km and contribute to the character and beauty of the city. Recent research indicates that the number of trees has declined from 710 to 530 and certain sections are in a deplorable state. In the article below Lennie Gouws explores the history and current state of iconic Oak Avenue.
Concerns about the condition of the oak trees of Potchefstroom have infuriated the people of Potchefstroom over the decades.
In 1983 J. G. Brand, City Engineer of Cape Town, penned this brief article about Government Avenue, the oldest pedestrian thoroughfare in South Africa. The piece appeared in the 1983 edition of Restorica, the journal of the Simon van der Stel Foundation (today the Heritage Association of South Africa). Thank you to the University of Pretoria (copyright holders) for giving us permission to publish.
It is hard to imagine that the small park adjacent to Redhill School and opposite the Morningside Shopping Centre in Sandton was once a major 'outspan' where weary travellers (and oxen of course) rested on the way to Johannesburg. The following article, first published in the 1984 Sandton Historical Association journal, brings the story alive.
An old 'outspan', at least 150 years old, has just recently become a new Sandton Park, and will be preserved forever as an open place. This is Outspan Park in Morningside.
For many years Bill Hedding was known as the ‘Father of Bryanston’. He played a central role in the development of the suburb and the recording of its history. He was the founder of the now defunct Sandton Heritage Association, a long term city councillor and at one point the Mayor of Sandton. In the late 1970s he gave a speech on the history of Bryanston. Below are a few edited excerpts to give the reader an idea of the origins and development of the suburb.
Part of Kitchener Avenue, in Kensington, Johannesburg has been replaced by Albertina Sisulu Highway. Perhaps soon, Rhodes Park, Roberts Avenue and Milner Crescent will be renamed to burnish the heroes of more recent history? Significantly, Cecil John Rhodes statue on the UCT campus has been recently vandalized in a fierce show of anti- colonialism.
To the north of Johannesburg lies a hill of great historical, archaeological and geological importance. In the article below Lilith Wynne explores the archaeological aspects of the Lone Hill site. The article first appeared in the 1988 Journal of the Sandton Historical Association, two years after Professor Revil Mason made his 'discovery'.
His name is immortalised in one of Johannesburg's most well-known streets, it is inscribed on the foundation stone of the landmark Johannesburg Library and it is painted on his old office which is now home to the popular Arts on Main in the Maboneng Precinct. But who was D.F. Corlett? The following article, published in the South African Builder in September 1923, gives some insight into the man.
Travel back in time to 1886. Gold has just been discovered on the Witwatersrand, and the koppies and veld between Pretoria and Heidelberg, home to a handful of boer families, their tenants and workers, are starting to attract the attention of the world. The dusty track connecting the Viljoen homestead, nestled below the ridge among abundant orchards, to Pretoria has been extended south and west to the city of tents which has mushroomed on the uitvalgrond between the farms Doornforntein, Langlaagte and Braamfontein.
Craighall is a popular, and some would argue trendy, suburb to the north of Johannesburg. It is hard to imagine that it was once the scene of dusty roads, dairies and a famous lake and hotel. In 1987 Sheila Timmermans compiled a short history of Craighall (and Craighall Park) which was published in the Johannesburg Historical Foundation's Journal Between the Chains. The article contains some fascinating insights into the forgotten spaces and places of the suburb.