Besides having one of the best climates in the world, Jozi has much to offer …

Joburg skylineWow! what is it with Jozi at the moment? So much positive press from all sorts of different quarters. From no 1 cycle route, to an up-and-coming art hub to a new spin on the level of violence – Joburg is being praised and flaunted as an interesting and vibrant city.  Although Joburg will always be too gritty, fast paced and jittery to be swan-like, maybe it is beginning to grow out of it’s ugly duckling phase.

Liz at Lancaster hosts several guests who come back to South Africa regularly for research or consultancy work, many of whom say that although Cape Town is wonderful to visit, Jozi is the place they prefer to stay. Recently, two very different articles have addressed Jozi’s positives and why, despite the traffic, an inept municipality and perceptions of crime (more of that below),  Joburg is still a great place to be.  As John Simpson says in his article in the Daily Telegraph (28 Oct 2103):  ‘Jozi is noisy challenging and full of life’.  While acknowledging that crime rates are way higher than they should be, he puts the general perception of safety in Joburg in a more realistic context:  ‘Johannesburg isn’t like Kinshasa, where you congratulate yourself every time you get back to your hotel in safety; it’s a lovely, open, green garden city, where everyone smiles and treats you nicely.’  For the full article see

Tim Murphy explores  Jozi’s pockets of cool in   For him,  Jozi ‘feels like a hectic, history-scarred city full of hustle and optimism that’s brashly shouldering its way into the global arena.’  But he continues  … ‘it’s remaining intensely African, bursting with immigrants from all over the continent in a way that ­Cape Town, South Africa’s post-colonial tourism darling, simply is not.  ….  Milisuthando Bongela, who writes the blog Miss Milli B and co-owns Mememe, a clothing boutique that sells local ­labels, put it this way: “I can still be the only black person in a restaurant in Cape Town. Whereas in Jo’burg, people like me own the restaurants.” ‘

44 Stanley  - industrial buildings converted into specialty stores, outdoor restaurants and work spaces for the creative industries

44 Stanley – industrial buildings converted into specialty stores, outdoor restaurants and work spaces for the creative industries

Murphy writes with passion about the creatives and the avant-garde and about the pockets of urban regeneration in Braamfontein, 44 Stanley St and the Maboneng precinct. But his article ends on a cautionary note that (as with many metropolitan cites) you still need to watch your back when moving after dark on your own through quiet streets.   

And for 21 reasons why Jozi is a great place … 21 reasons in pics … see    

And as if this isn’t enough,  readers of the English paper the Guardian have listed the Braamfontein cycle route as no 1 of 10 city cycle routes world-wide.    And Joburg comes in at no 5 of the 12 Cities that will ‘Shake Up The Art World In The 21st Century’

Interestingly, there is still a persistent and prevailing perception that Jozi is ‘more dangerous’ than Cape Town.  While clearly  crime levels are unacceptably high in Joburg, in a study of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban, all rank higher that Joburg which squeezes in at no 50. (Not exactly a list a city is proud to make.)  In 2012 a Mexican think tank — the Citizens’ Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice — released a study ranking the world’s most violent cities  The ranking was based on murder rate per capita in 2011.  All top 20 cities were based in South America and of the 50 cities, 14 were in Brazil and 11 in Mexico.  (No wonder the Mexicans were so relaxed when they came to Joburg for the Soccer World Cup in 2010 which, as it turned out, was to be the most peaceful World Cup in history!) Four of the 50 cities on the list are in the U.S. (New Orleans at no 21; Detroit at no 30; St Louis at no 43 and Baltimore at no 48). And in South Africa, Cape Town ranks no 34; Port Elizabeth no 41 and Durban no 49.  There seems to be some error with Johannesburg’s figures though as they are the same as Durban’s which is clearly incorrect. However, despite this, it makes for interesting reading  




Posted in General, History and heritage, Joburg and surrounds: things to do and see, Liz at Lancaster News and Views, South Africa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Liz at Lancaster’s Pick of the Week 25th Nov: Piece in the Firs, Rosebank

PiecePiece in the Firs in Rosebank is one of Joburg’s most special shops run by a remarkable woman.  Their printed ‘brochure’ says it all:

Expect the unexpected – pieces with attitude where old meets new, and contemporary design meets ancient tradition

Started by Eugenie Drakes in 2000,  Piece showcases a variety of South Africa’s exquisitely crafted handmade items. Much of the range is highly individual, bold and quirky (expect the unexpected) but all demonstrate a fine sense of design – where the contemporary meets the traditional.   Eugenie has worked with urban and rural community groups throughout Southern Africa on product development, business training and mentoring,  with the emphasis on sustainability.  Her clientele attests to the success and exclusivity of the Piece project. They include many of the local and international rich and famous such Elton John, Michele Obama, Bill Clinton, Lira, Graca Machel, amongst others. 

Piece detailAnd Eugenie has a long history in the craft industry in South Africa. Most recently she was a resource person at the Africa-India Summit in Ethiopia in 2011, and participated in a craft exchange programme in New Delhi at the beginning of 2012. She is on the Board of the Siyazisiza Trust and the Southern Guild Design Foundation. In addition to being selected to participate in the Goldman Sachs-GIBS (Gordon Institute of Business Science) 10 000 Women Certificate Programme for Women Entrepreneurs, she is an enterprise mentor at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, and has been invited as a mentor on the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Mentoring Women in Business Programme.  So this woman knows her oats … to mix metaphors horribly!   For more see

So treat yourself to a visit to Piece which can be found at Shop 5 The Firs Cradock Avenue Rosebank (next to the entrance to the Hyatt Hotel).  It is one of Joburg’s ‘must do’s’.

Posted in Art and Exhibitions, Joburg and surrounds: things to do and see, Shopping | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Response

Strains of Scotland the Brave grace the suburb of Craighall Park

Piper 1 compressedPiper at Lizatlancaster

             Our young neighbours were transported back to their wedding day when they awoke a couple of weeks back to the hauntingly evocative strains of the bagpipes wafting from our garden. All thanks to a special birthday celebration.  

Recently we were lucky enough to host two families who were celebrating their Dad’s 90th birthday.  Joanne and her husband Michael came from the States, Tracey and her 2 daughters live here in Joburg and the birthday boy and his wife flew up from Knysna.   With Harry being of Scottish extract, Tracey and Joanne decided to make his birthday breakfast extra special by arranging a Scottish piper to pipe him into breakfast. This is why a couple of weeks ago, Craighall Park awoke to the gorgeously evocative strains of Scotland the Brave.  What a privilege to be on the periphery of the excitement during this emotional day, and to be able to share the celebratory joy of such an extraordinary milestone.  And pictures don’t lie – Harry doesn’t look or act a day over 70! A lovely occasion and a wonderful family. We are privileged to have these kinds of encounters and establish relationships with guests like these.  Thank you all for coming to stay with us here at Liz at Lancaster. 

Posted in General, Liz at Lancaster News and Views, Stories and encounters | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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