I have written before about the live New York Met opera productions which are screened at Cinema Nouveau in Rosebank and at Cedar Square in Fourways. Pucinni’s Turandot is showing at the moment. What a production. If you are in Joburg … don’t miss it. Upcoming operas include: Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman from 15 January; Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier from 5 Feb; Carmen from 19th Feb; Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra from 12 March ; Ambrose Thomas’ Hamlet from 18 April and Rossini’s Armida from 28 May. Don’t miss these wonderful productions which also take you behind the scenes at the Met. Only one thing better and that would be to be in New York at the Met LIVE!!
What went right in 2009Dec 30th, 2009by Pierre De Vos.
(1) South Africa had another free and fair election (it’s fourth!) without any serious violence and the fourth democratic President was inaugurated soon afterwards.
(2) The government decisively changed direction on HIV/AIDS and President Jacob Zuma appointed a health minister who clearly understands that the problem of HIV needs to be dealt with in a comprehensive manner.
(3) Nkosazana Zuma has begun to change things around at the Department of Home Affairs. A friend of mine received her passport only 4 weeks after submitting her application!
(4) The South African banking system weathered the international financial crisis very well and the SA government did not need to pump billions of dollars into the system as was required by the USA, the UK and some European countries.
(5) A free press and independent electronic media continued to thrive and to present a variety of news, exposes and opinion, sometimes harshly critical of the foibles of the governing party and sometimes singing its praises.
(6) Some members of the tripartite alliance began exposing Julius Malema as the self-serving, headline-grabbing, tenderpreneur that he is.
(7) The selection of a new Chief Justice and four new judges to the Constitutional Court proceeded without unnecessary controversy and several good candidates were appointed to the positions while a certain Judge President were clearly not a serious contender for appointment.
(8) A vibrant civil society continued to thrive and to challenge seemingly unlawful decisions made by the President and y constitutional institutions such as the Judicial Services Commission in various courts across South Africa.
(9) South Africa successfully hosted the Confederations Cup and the various soccer stadiums for 2010 Fifa World Cup were completed on time.
(10) Many South Africans quietly continued to build bridges and build the nation by giving of their time and money to address the poverty and deprivation of fellow South Africans
As an international tourist who has never visited Joburg, it can be a very confusing place. There are many reasons for this:
Boundaries have changed over time
Johannesburg is a metropolitan municipality. Metropolitan municipalities have exclusive municipal executive and legislative authority in their areas. There are 6 metropolitan municipalities in South Africa: Cape Town, Durban, and Port Elizabeth with the remaining 3 being in Gauteng: Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni (or East Rand) where OR Tambo International Airport is located. Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality is made up of 7 regions as shown on the map below:
A: Diepsloot, Kya Sand
B: Randburg, Rosebank and the Park suburbs (south of Joburg old CBD and
north of Sandton CBD), Melville, Northcliff, etc.
C: Roodepoort, Constantia Kloof, Northgate
D: Soweto, Doornkop, Protea Glen
E. Sandton, Alexandra
F: Inner City
G: Lenasia, Orange Farm, Ennerdale
Map taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Johannesburg_Metropolitan_Municipality
Previously Johannesburg incorporated Regions F and parts of B only, with, for example, Roodepoort, Randburg, Sandton, Soweto and Lenasia all being separate municipalities.
Johannesburg covers a huge area
The size of this single metropolitan municipality (with some 8 million people) covers over 1, 645 square kilometres. Sydney’s central municipality, by comparison, covers 1, 500 square kilometres. It’s been calculated that if a resident of the southern-most area, Orange Farm, [at the south of Region G] were to walk northwards to the inner city, the journey would take three days. Often Ekurhuleni is included in the loose definition of the Greater Johannesburg Metropole, taking the population to around 10 million.
Poor street signage
Rather than give directions via street names, most Jozi residents still use internalized grass roots directions – “Go down the hill past the Shell Garage and turn left at the electrical shop”. Much of this has to do with the fact that in the past, many streets lacked signs, and even now most of the street signs are often in poor condition, placed low down on pavement edges with minimal lighting at night increasing the poor visibility. Many locals use a GPS system (Garmin or Tom Tom being the 2 most popular). However these still need to be used as guides only, as they often do not record road closures, or bad traffic intersections, and cannot keep up with traffic lights that are out of order.
Motorway system and heavy traffic
Johannesburg is circled by 80km of ring road – a motorway comprising 3 freeways which converge on the city looping around its outskirts. See schematic map under Location on www.lizatlancaster.co.za). The N3 Eastern bypass links Johannesburg with Durban; the N1 Western bypass links Johannesburg with Pretoria and Cape Town; and the N12 Southern bypass links Johannesburg with Witbank and Kimberley. The M1 motorway cuts through Johannesburg from south to north while the M2 on the south of the city is an east-west artery. Built in the 1960s, these motorways opened the way for decentralization, development of large suburban shopping malls, flight from the inner city and urban sprawl. At the time of writing this post, there are major roadworks which form part of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (See www.nra.co.za) As a result of the roadworks, there is very bad congestion and major traffic hold-ups on freeways from 7 to 9 am and from 4 to 6.30 pm. The Gillooly’s Interchange, the point where the N3 Eastern Bypass and the R24 Airport Freeway intersect, being the busiest interchange in the Southern Hemisphere (Johannesburg, Wikipedia), is particularly badly effected. Obviously the more clogged up the motorways become, the more people use ‘rat-runs’ through the suburbs, so increasing traffic in these areas too. While many of the roadworks will be finished in time for World Cup in June 2010, some will be ongoing until 2011 and into 2012. Most of the new motorways in and around Johannesburg will be tolled.
Check SA Goodnews no 242 13 December 2009 on http://www.sagoodnews.co.za/newsletter_archive/the_best_of_2009_2.html
And from Project 2010 Issue 165 18 Dec 2009
2009 will be remembered as the year that South Africa staked its claim to hosting a successful 2010 World Cup. Certainly, the past 12 months have marked an extraordinary turnaround in the preparations for this mega sporting event. Just a year ago, the hosts of the tournament were reeling after a series of near catastrophic events. There were serious doubts that South Africa would ride out an outbreak of xenophobia, a wave of electricity blackouts, labour disruptions on key 2010 construction projects and a major political, judicial and constitutional crisis which saw the recall of Thabo Mbeki as President of the Republic. FIFA President, an ardent supporter of hosting the World Cup in South Africa, confirmed the apprehension of the international community when he coined the term ’Plan B’, suggesting that the governing body had a contingency plan in place in the event that South Africa could not meet its requirements. But what a difference a year can make. Sanity prevailed and, for the most part, South Africa confounded its critics. Foreigners were reintegrated into the communities they had fled, power was restores to the electricity grid, construction workers and project managers settled their differences and completed some of the world’s most magnificent stadiums. And, of course, Jacob Zuma who was swept into power is currently enjoying high approval ratings. If ’Plan B’ was the catch phrase of 2008, it has now been replaced by 2010 Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordan’s poignant ’death to doubt’. He was referring to the completion of most 2010-related construction projects and the magnificent 2010 Final Draw in December which determined the grouping for next year’s tournament. Another remarkable turnaround has come from the international media. Where they were fuelling the fire a year ago, they are now reporting (in unison) that South Africa is on target with its World Cup plans and has the capabilities to host a magnificent spectacle. The excitement of 2010 is now bubbling under the surface and South Africa can look forward to staking its claim as the most powerful model of unity on the planet.
Joburg is definitely the place for soccer fans and TV crews to base themselves for the 2010 World Cup. Of the 63 matches, 15 are in Joburg – either ar Ellis Park or Soccer City. In addition to these, 6 matches are in Pretoria (58 km/36 miles) and 6 are in Rustenberg (165km/102 miles). And there are three more cities all under 400 km from Joburg where a further14 matches will be played: 4 in Polokwane (331 km/205 miles), 4 in Nelspruit (355km/220 miles) and 6 in Bloemfontein (398km/247 miles). With normal traffic on our excellent national roads, Bloemfontein is a 4 hour drive max. This means that every day from 11th June to 3rd July (except for 30th June and 1st July when there are no matches being held anywhere), there is a match in Joburg or within 4 hours of Johannesburg. So out of the 63 matches 41 are within 4 hours of Jburg (65%) and with Durban being a driveable distance of 588 km/365 miles, even the 4 matches here are accessible from Joburg. Plus we have 2 of the quarter finals and of course the big one on the 11th July. And Gauteng is the favoured place for the teams to locate their base camps. See blog of 10 Dec Where have 2010 soccer teams chosen to locate their base camps?
There are thousands of photos of Soccer City … but none of them have been mine .. until yesterday when I had the privilege of actually experiencing that space. Stefania, the project manager of Soccer City, has been a guest at Amanzi Guesthouse around the corner. So it’s thanks to Pam that she, myself and three others were given a guided tour. A word of caution, do not miss the NASREC turn off (as I very embarrassingly did), as to access the stadium from any other direction is challenging to put it mildly. Although I remain reservedly cynical about FIFA’s iron-fisted control and the resultant questionable trickle down economic effects of the World Cup, plus I am not a soccer follower, I could not help but be in awe of the stadium. It is a such an impressive structure. Lots has been said about the calabash shape of the 94,000-seater stadium as well as the 10 dark strips in the stadium seating which line up with the 10 clear verticals on the external casing of the stadium – each oriented in the direction of one of the other 9 stadia in South Africa, with the 10th to Berlin, site of the last World Cup Final. But the sheer monumentality and scale cannot be fully appreciated through photographs.
To walk up through the entrance way into the stands and have an unimpeded view over the whole stadium, empty apart from some workmen of diminutive proportions, was extraordinary. And to be there when it is packed with fans, amid the clamour of vuvuzelas, will be an unforgettable experience.
Because of the advantage of training at high altitude, Gauteng is definitely favoured. The Australian team – the Socceroos –will base themselves at the Kloofzicht Lodge in the Zwartkops Mountains between Johannesburg and Pretoria. About a 45 minutes drive from both cities, they will be close to the Cradle of Humankind. For training, they will use the upgraded Wayne Joubert Field at St Stithian’s Collegein Randburg. England’s Three Lions made a special arrangement with Royal Bafokeng Sports of Rustenburg, securing a base camp there which is being purpose-built for them. Their facilities will cost 20m pounds. But while the facilities are getting into shape, England’s coach Fabio Capello has voiced dissatisfaction with the pitch quality of the practice fields. Once those are upgraded, the Three Lions should be set. The Ghanaian Black Stars have chosen the small town of Nelspruit for their base camp. At altitude, and close to their initial games in Pretoria, Rustenburg and Johannesburg, Nelspruit should provide a pleasant setting for the team to shine. The Japanese Blue Samurai will base themselves at the Fancourt Hotel & Country Club in the Garden Route city of George. Paraguay has also decided to stay close to the coast, also on the Garden Route, taking residence at The Point Hotel in Mossel Bay. It is also appears that the Argentinean squad has chosen Pretoria as its base camp. Germany has chosen nearby Centurion and Brazil has opted for Bloemfontein. Italy and the United States both seem to be vying for the Irene Country Lodge located between Johannesburg and Pretoria. With only 8 definites, the majority still have to make up their minds. (Info taken from Capetownmagazine.com)
‘Good at the extraordinary but not so good at the ordinary’ is a quote from Albie Sachs, the retired Constitutional Court Judge and former activist in the freedom movement. South Africa always gets notoriously bad press. I think I can safely say that the majority of my guests who have never been to South Africa before and have been warned in particular about the dangers of Johannesburg (from not leaving their hotel/guesthouse to not making eye contact with people in the streets if they do go out), leave with a completely different impression.
Here are some random facts about SA taken from SA The Good News (the name is self-explanatory):
For more facts go to http://www.sagoodnews.co.za/fast_facts_and_quick_stats/index.html
2010 Match Schedule
GROUP A 1. South Africa 2. Mexico 3. Uruguay 4. France
11 June – Jhb Soccer City South Africa – Mexico @ 16:00
11 June – CT Green Point Uruguay – France @ 20:30
16 June – PTA Loftus Versfeld Soutth Africa – Uruguay @ 20:30
17 June – Polokwane Peter Mokaba France – Mexico @ 13:30
22 June – Rustenberg Royal Bafokeng Mexico – Uruguay @ 16:00
22 June – Bloem Free State France – South Africa @ 16:00
The final results from the games will place number 1 team from group A against the No.2 team from Group B on 26 June in Port-Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
GROUP B 1. Argentina 2. Nigeria 3. Korea Republic 4. Greece
12 June – Jhb Ellis Park ost city: Johannesburg Argentina – Nigeria @13:30
12 June – PE Nelson Mandela Bay Korea Republic – Greece @ 16:00
17 June – Jhb Soccer City Argentina – Korea Republic @ 20:30
17 June – Bloem Free State Greece – Nigeria @ 16:00
22 June – Durban Moses Mabhida Nigeria – Korea Republic @ 20:30
22 June – Plokwane Peter Mokaba Greece – Argentina @ 20:30
The final results from all the group matches in Group B will place number 1 team from group B against the number 2 team from Group A on 27 June in Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg
Group C 1. England 2. USA 3. Algeria 4. Slovenia
12 June Rustenberg Royal Bafokeng England – USA @ 20:30
13 June Polokwane Peter Mokaba Algeria – Slovenia @ 13:30
18 June Jhb Ellis Park Slovenia – USA @16:00
18 June CT Green Point England – Algeria @ 20:30
23 June PE Nelson Mandela Bay Slovenia – England @ 16:00
23 June PTA Loftus Versfeld USA – Algeria @ 16:00
The results from all the group matches in Group C will place the number 1 team from group C against the number 2 team from GROUP D on 26 June in the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.
Group D 1. Germany 2. Australia 3. Serbia 4. Ghana
13 June Durban Moses Mabhida Germany – Australia @ 16:00
13 June PTA Loftus Versfeld Serbia – Ghana @ 20:30
18 June PE Nelson Mandela Bay Germany – Serbia @ 13:30
19 June Rustenberg Royal Bafokeng Ghana – Australia @ 13:30
23 June JHB Soccer City Ghana – Germany @ 20:30
23 June Nelspruit Mbombela Stadium Australia – Serbia @ 20:30
The results from all the group matches in Group D will place the number 1 team from group D against the number 2 team from GROUP C on 27 June in the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein (Mangaung).
Group E 1. Netherlands 2. Denmark 3. Japan 4. Cameroon
14 June JHB Soccer City Netherlands – Denmark @ 13:30
14 June Bloem Free State Japan – Cameroon @ 16:00
19 June Durban Moses Mabhida Stadium Netherlands – Japan @ 16:00
19 June PTA Loftus Versfeld Cameroon – Denmark @ 20:30
24 June Rustenberg Royal Bafokeng Denmark – Japan @ 20:30
24 June CT Green Point Stadium Cameroon – Netherlands @ 20:30
The final results from the games in Group E will place number 1 team from group E against the No.2 team from Group F on 28 June in Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Group F 1. Italy 2. Paraguay 3. New Zealand 4. Slovakia
14 June CT Green Point Stadium Italy – Paraguay @ 20:30
15 June Rustenberg Royal Bafokeng New Zealand – Slovakia @ 13:30
20 June Nelspruit Mbombela Italy – Zealand @ 16:00
20 June Bloem Free State Slovakia – Paraguay @ 13:30
24 June JHB Ellis Park Stadium Paraguay – New Zealand @ 16:00
24 June Polokwane Peter Mokaba Slovakia – Italy @ 16:00
The final results from the games in Group F will place number 1 team from group F against the No.2 team from Group E on 28 June in Pretoria’s Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
Group G 1. Brazil 2. North Korea 3. Ivory Coast 4. Portugal
15 June JHB Ellis Park Brazil – North Korea @ 20:30
15 June PE Nelson Mandela Bay Ivory Coast – Portugal @ 16:00
20 June JHB Soccer City Stadium Brazil – Ivory Coast @ 20:30
21 June CT Green Point Stadium Portugal – Ivory Coast @ 13:30
25 June Nelspruit Mbombela North Korea – Ivory Coast @ 16:00
25 June Durban Moses Mabhida Porttugal – Brazil @ 16:00
The final results from the games in Group G will place number 1 team from group G against the No.2 team from Group H on 28 June in Johannesburg’s Ellis Park Stadium.
Group H 1. Spain 2. Switzerland 3. Honduras 4. Chile
16 June Durban Moses Mabhida Spain – Switzerland @ 16:00
16 June Nelspruit Mbombela Stadium Honduras – Chile @ 13:30
21 June JHB Ellis Park Spain – Honduras @ 20:30
21 June PE Nelson Mandela Bay Chile – Honduras @ 16:00
25 June Bloem Free State Switzerland – Honduras @ 20:30
25 June PTA Lotus Versfeld Chile – Spain @ 20:30
The final results from all the group matches in Group H will place the number 1 team from group H against the number 2 team from Group G on 29 June in the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town.
Matches in Joburg
11 June South Africa vs Mexico
14 June Netherlands vs Denmark
17 June Argentina vs Korea Republic
20 June Brazil vs Ivory Coast
23 June Ghana vs Germany
27 June Team 1B vs Team 2A
02 July Quarter Final Team 1 vs Team 3
11 July Final
Ellis Park Stadium
12 June Team B1 vs Team B2
15 June Team G1 vs Team G2
18 June Team C4 vs Team C2
21 June Team H1 vs Team H3
24 June Team F4 vs Team F1
28 June Team 1G vs Team 2
03 July Quarter Final