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Pan Macmillan

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Launch of The Joburg Book Reignites a Love for the City

The Joburg BookJohn Fawcett-Peck & Tebogo MonamaJournalist Tebogo Monama was feeling somewhat jaded about Joburg until recently, when, as one of a lucky few, she took a trip around the city in an open-top bus on a sunny day. Her mood soon improved at the launch of The Joburg Book.

Between her sight-seeing tour and a reading of this book, Monama gained some new insights about this remarkable city that never ceases to change and reinvent itself. She said, “Now I have fallen in love with the city all over again”:

The tour started at the posh Rosebank Hotel and ended at the Bus Factory in Newtown. As we drove through the city Brodie narrated the history of the various places.

Doornfontein was once called the “swagger suburb” and was one of the poshest areas of early Johannesburg. It then evolved into a “middle-class, middle-income Jewish enclave”. Today it’s a rundown, “pitiful slum in the inner city”.

The decay started in the 1930s when black migrant workers moved into the area. The yards were called “skokiaan yards” because of the trade of illegally brewed beer. The women-dominated brewing business gave rise to the “stockfair”, now known as the “stokvel”.

Said Brodie, “The workers were new to the city and tried to adapt. Though they lived in crowded places it was amazing how they tried to make it home. Some families shared a small room but had a piano in it that everyone was proud of.”

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