Freedom Day

Today, in 1994, we held our first democratic, post-apartheid elections. We stood together edging forward at a snails pace in long snake-like queues, excited and full of hope for the future. We didn’t mind the wait as we chatted with neighbours and made friends with those around us, it really was a day to remember and a privilege to be part of. It was also my eldest sons first experience of casting a vote, making this day even more special. The liberation of most of our people looked bright and I had high hopes for all of us.

In 1995 we held the Rugby World Cup with the final been played right here in Joburg. Even before the game started we were one big happy rainbow nation, how excited we all were at this new way of living and accepting of each other.

Now twenty seven years down the line, I ask myself, am I and others FREE? What does FREEDOM mean to any of us?

To define Freedom – FREEDOM should mean the emancipation from poverty, unemployment, racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination.

Are we FREE? We are being lead by a corrupt government who have destroyed our infrastructure, who have not delivered on promises of housing, free schooling, health care, safety etc. etc. Our country is falling apart and no one seems to care enough to do anything about it – apparently, not even our President.

Have we become to complacent?

Are our voices not heard?

Are we happy with what we perceive to be FREEDOM?

We have so many people living in inhumane conditions – are they free to make choices?

Our crime rate is out of control, especially towards women who are raped and killed daily – are we as women FREE?

We have a very high rate of unemployment, yet our professionals/skilled people sit at home whilst everything collapses around us.

We have Khoisan people camping at the Union Buildings for over two years in protest over their non-recognition as the first nation of the country – and nothing! (https://www.iol.co.za/pretoria-news/news/khoisan-protest-at-union-buildings-enters-into-third-year-8d2ef854-e181-4ccc-9fd6-8e88e2fd58bb)

We have artists protesting at the National Arts Council building for over fifty days over the mismanagement of a R300million Covid Relief fund – and nothing!

I’m by no means a negative person and am always looking for the good in everything – and yes, there is good – but it is now beginning to be overshadowed by the absolute incompetence of our leaders and the collapse of our State Owned Enterprises.

I have no solution for any of this but I want to be able to walk freely, speak freely and live in harmony with my fellow citizens who have the right to choose how they live, free from poverty and inequalities.

FREEDOM DAY should be a time to reflect on how we can move forward together, as a strong, unified nation.

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Dancing in the Park

I’ve been looking at ways to push myself out of my comfort zone but in a holistic way, a means of reinventing the way I live going forward from Covid, I don’t want to go back to the way I did things before. So, when I received an invite to “Dance in the Park” from Drew, on behalf of the Biodanza Facilitators of South Africa, to join them in Delta Park on Sunday I had to go, even if this first time was to just stand on the side lines and experience what it was all about.

I knew Drew, and possibly Dionne, would be there but to my surprise a number of my other friends were there as well, making me feel right at home as they encouraged me throughout the event to take part, thanks guys! I’m not going to try rewriting the understanding of what Biodanza – “The Dance of Life” is about, you can find that here https://biodanza4africa.org.za I’m going to share my experience of Sundays event.

I arrived a little late to find everyone sitting in a circle on the grounds of the Delta Scout hall, with strips of cloth in front of each of them, Virginie welcomed me and offered me one of the ribbons of cloth as I walked towards the circle. These would later be used to link each other together in the opening dance. Greetings and formalities over it was time to start the music – the dancing is very much freestyle, it’s all about feeling the music but staying in tune with each other. There are no rules and if you wish to go off on your own you may do so. Some chose to do this barefoot, I think I would have been in that group, some had their eyes partially closed, others smiling and interacting with each other with their eyes and a smile but no spoken words, after all this was to be as one with the music. The music ranged from upbeat to tranquil throughout the session. Seeing some of the energy displayed by most – I would say it’s also a good workout.

The event was broken up into various meaningful activities, such as greeting each other in a dance form but not speaking or touching each other, walking quietly while the music changed from one piece to the next, interacting in a dance form with a partner, standing in silence with your hand on your heart, eyes closed and counting your blessings while soft sounds of what I would call meditation music played. However my favourite had to be the creating of a circle with leaves whilst dancingly passing the leaves from the collector to the creator, this was very special and I could see something like this happening in a land art activation, which is my other passion.

The candle ceremony and the writing of wishes for our planet and those that live upon it on flags, followed by a dance in order to string them up, was extremely special. I’m hooked and can’t wait for the next one when I will leave my camera and phone behind and fully immerse myself in the celebration. Thank you to the facilitators Michele, Drew, Virginie and Aniesa who quietly in the background controlled the music, for one of the most moving activities I’ve attended in a long time.

It ended off with a shared picnic and I regret not staying until I was the last car driving out. What a wonderful bunch of people. Should you wish to attend a class or event, please refer to the web page mentioned at the top.

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Street Guards doing it for themselves.

I always get excited when I see a residential pavement growing veggies and fruit besides the usual pretty flowers and lawns. On a visit to Kimberley a few years ago I thought they had got pavements/sidewalks so right, with streets lined with lemon and olive trees. Look, don’t get me wrong – I love our Jacaranda’s, Oaks and Plane trees but it would be nice to have the odd food producing tree in-between. With some of our trees now being attacked by the Borer Beetle or just coming to their end, it would be nice to replace some of them with trees we could benefit from.

I’ve recently came across three street guards who have developed “Guerrilla Gardens” along side their huts but before I introduce them, a little background information on what a Guerrilla Garden is. It’s creating a garden on land that does not belong to you such as sidewalks, vacant land etc. which is perceived to be abandoned or neglected by it’s legal owner. It can be an easy, low cost way of beautifying a neighbourhood, to prevent negative consequences such as dumping by creating an ‘Urban Foodscape’ and allowing for foraging and self-sufficiency which in turn increases local food security.

Right down the road from me in Kensington is Philani a street guard on Suffolk Street who has a very impressive Urban Foodscape along the sidewalk at the back of a school playing fields. He has a good selection of veggies from spring onions, cabbages, tomatoes, pumpkins to mielies etc. He says sometimes the residents buy from him and he also helps those who have fallen on hard times.

In Observatory there is Khulekani, a street guard on Gerald Street. Besides his urban foodscape he sells bird feeders and suet blocks, which one of the residents makes. What a delight it is when you stop at his garden as you can do a bit of urban bird watching as all the birds come down to feast on some of the food put out for them. Khulekani is mastering the art of sweet potato growing, hence the tyres.

Finally all the way across town in Craighall on Smit Road is Francis. I’ve always admired this little hut on my way to the REEA bookshop as Francis always has beautiful hanging baskets of flowers on his quaint hut and alongside is his urban foodscape. Francis was really pleading with me to come back when his garden is looking a little better as the heavy rains we have had, have not been to good for it.

I’m so in awe of this idea that I do hope other street guards and/or residents who have the ability and time to tend to these type of urban foodscapes join in. A neighbour in our street has taken out the flowers from the pots that stand on either side of her entrance and planted tomatoes and green peppers in their place and she has also planted two apricots trees where ornamental trees once stood.

If you have a street guard on your street who is creating an urban foodscape, chat to them and possibly help him by giving them some seeds that you’ve either bought, saved or have an excess of.

(Both Khulekani and Francis declined to be photographed)

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#1billionrising2021 – Rising Gardens

I was made aware of this years 1Billion Rising campaign when a friend of mine asked if I would be interested in taking part in the Garden of Yarns at The Wilds (a nature reserve in the heart of Johannesburg) cumulating on the 14th February. A garden would be entirely made up of crochet, knitted and embroidered blooms. Yay! At last, a place to use some of the hundreds of roses I had crocheted. I of course jumped at the opportunity to put some meaning and purpose into these roses and working with a group of likeminded people creating awareness of an issue that is close to my heart, is always a plus in my book.

One Billion Rising is a global campaign started by Eve Ensler to raise awareness and hopefully stop rape and sexual violence against women. The On Billion refers to the UN statistic that one in every three women would be raped or beaten in her lifetime, how very sad is that! This years theme was One Billion Rising 2021 – Rising Garden (which you can read up about here onebillionrising.org)

For the Garden of Yarns one of the meaningful things I created was what I named “Ribbons of Roses” – these colourful roses would represent the different forms of violence, rape and abuse that women go through and yet together we stand by listening, comforting and supporting each other.

I also went with another campaign called #rosesagainstviolence as I had quite a few purple roses in my pile, which I attached the tag I got from their template to. These would not only go into the Garden of Yarns but I would also place them in and around the city to create awareness. On their blog you will find a video of how to do the roses plus the template for the tags so let’s fill our world with these roses. rosesagainstviolence.wordpress.com

We had hardly finished our garden when the rape statics for South Africa from October to December 2020 were made public – and these are only the reported cases – 12,218 people were raped in this three month period equating to 133 people being raped every single day. One can only imagine what the number for domestic violence and verbal abuse must be.

Is it the way we raise our boys? Is it a cultural thing where the men feel in power and to some extent claim ownership of us? Do our protector’s not do enough? Are the systems failing us? Do these awareness campaigns make a difference? How do we move forward? So many questions with far too few answers. We need to be heard that “Enough is Enough”.

Thanks to Stacey Rozen who managed the Garden of Yarns, all my fellow craftivists, to One Billion Rising and Roses Against Violence. Let’s keep active until change is seen.

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Me and the Pandemic called Corona.

The R.E.M song “It’s the end of the world as we know it” has been playing over and over in my head for days now, except I don’t feel fine and most certainly don’t need anymore time alone – I’m a social person, I need people even if it’s just to watch them over a cup of coffee but that too gets my anxiety levels up…..I’ve become a homebody!

However the song resonates with me as we cannot possibly go back to the world we once knew, where we showed a total lack of concern for the planet we live upon or the creatures we share it with. Corona has possibly made us more aware of our actions and hopefully we will all learn something from it.

Am I scared of this virus referred to as Covid19 – hell yes! It occupies my mind much of the time when I am out, remembering to sanitise, to not touch my face and trying to stay clear of those non-conformists who don’t know how to, or want to, wear a mask or understand the meaning of social distancing. I wish we would all just do as we are told to so as to get over this pandemic. Do I keep up with what is on social media about the virus? Not much really as it’s difficult to distinguish what is the truth and what is not.

Besides the uncertainty of this pandemic, along with the anxiety, feeling scared and sometimes how depressive the whole situation is, it was, and still is, a time to take a break and reflect on ones life and what is important and how we would like the world to be moving forward. I can’t fix the world but I can fix my world.

  • I’m beginning to realise that most things can be enjoyed right here at home. A bit of gardening is a great workout. You can create a culinary experience in your own kitchen. One can develop ones photographic skills in and around your home. Google, Pinterest and YouTube have become my tutors, I learnt to crochet from YouTube, make books amongst other things from Pinterest and learnt a lot of worldly knowledge from Google.
  • Shopping less – we don’t need stuff to make us happy, it only weighs us down. I am, however, still in the process of learning to throw things out, damn how I wish things did not bring back memories or that I could stop seeing the potential in everything.
  • Supporting local and one of them being the Urban Farms that I have right on my doorstep which will also get us to use what is seasonal and organic. I know you want to tell me to start my own veggie garden, been there, tried it and for two people you land up with way too much of a few things, besides fighting with all the little creatures who also see this as a food source. I share my fig tree with a multitude of birds and would not have it any other way but can someone tell me how I get them to finish off one fig before attacking the next.
  • Plastic! This is a difficult one as most things come in plastic but we have not bought a plastic shopping bag for a very long time now, we separate our waste, making it easier for the recyclers. We all just have to be more aware of how we dispose of our plastic waste. Polystyrene is another problem so I’d rather not support or buy anything that is packaged in it.
  • Speak up – I’ve found my voice to speak up on issues that do not sit well with our environment, our planet, our creatures and any of our people.

A small start and I’m already starting to feel lighter but the two things I’m most happy about is I don’t suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) any more. I’ve realised I do not need to attend EVERYTHING that is happening in the city any longer, but best of all is that my book addiction is no more and it’s now time to enjoy those books I have not read.

Get out there and smell the roses, feel the earth beneath your feet and do things that make you happy for TODAY is always going to be the only day you have.

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2020 – My year in review – what a year!

2020 started off like all previous years with phrases such as – this is going to be the year, thank heavens 2019 is over, this is my year etc. etc. Little did we know how 2020 was going to put the world in turmoil, that life as we knew it was not going to be the same, that we were going to have to make changes to how we lived, hugs and kisses where no longer going to be allowed as signs of affection and wearing a mask was going to become the new normal.

Early January and I’d excitedly booked a few tours with Johannesburg Heritage, which were to places I really wanted to visit and learn more about. One was Rose Road in Houghton (got this one in before lock down) and the other was Noordegesig (cancelled due to lock down). The Public Swimming Pool group decided to visit one more pool and then finish off the project with an exhibition and a Zine on the project would be for sale at Victoria Yards in early MAY (cancelled due to lock down).

Everything was like it normally was – the white butterflies migrated, Friends of the Cemeteries met for their cleanup sessions. I won a tour with Joburg Places as well as a trip around Joburg in the cutest car called a Jozibug, a tour with Joburg360, went with friends to a storytelling dinner at the Thunder Walker, Terry won some money on a Jacaranda radio competition – things were looking good so far.

A group of us arranged a tour to Alexandra township to attend a Shembe church gathering, which turned out to be a tour of the hostels as the members of the Shembe church had gone off to pray somewhere else. We were not disappointed as this was another side of township life we had wished to explore. Little did we realise that our lives were about to change and that this would be our last outing for awhile.

MARCH 2020 and the stories had started to surface, I did not take much notice of what was happening in China but became more concerned when Australia ran out of toilet paper, people were panicking and had started to horde but why toilet paper? Stories of a strict lockdown for 21 days had been circulated as the Covid19 virus had hit our shores. My brother-in-law was here and needed to get back to New Zealand before the world went into lock down, I felt my sisters panic, it now became very real. Well the rest we all know.

I began to knit, crochet, draw, sketch, embroider, clean out, we painted our lounge, tended to our garden, baked, the Jozi Land artists did a virtual Land Art event and I attend more webinars than I can count. All in all I had a lot to do but the best was that I did not need to suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) as we were all locked up and nothing was happening out there. Pull on pants, sloppy tops and slippers became the attire of the day, hair went almost to grey but I was happy and above all else healthy and so was my family. It was good to get dressed up to go to the shops for essentials but equally good to get back to the safety of my home.

JULY restrictions started to be lifted and parks were opened. My first social outing was a walk in the park with friends which, in all honesty, I did not enjoy as I just wanted to get home. This anxious feeling lasted for a while when going out, there was no coffee chats or moving on to some other place as it was a case of do what you intended and get home. By late AUGUST it was almost back to normal with exploring places, doing photo walks and socializing with friends – all done, of course, with a mask, sanitizing of hands and trying very hard not to touch ones face.

I did some Land Art at the Hilson Bridge festive festival, bade farewell to a few friends who moved down South, started a few projects that will carry me into 2021. I can honestly say that with this new strain of the virus, I would welcome another lockdown. People have become far too relaxed plus I feel we need to learn some lessons from this – if only to be better Humans and to understand that we need to take care of Mother Earth.

2020 taught me a few things that I’m grateful for – I don’t need to surround myself with stuff, I don’t need so much of anything, I can let go of things that don’t add to the happiness of my life as well as to not sweat the small stuff. As long as my family are healthy, safe and happy, I have my person to take care of and he of me, to give me the odd hug and to continue to understand where I’m at, all is good. I can’t forget my wonderful feathered baby who never fails to amuse me.

I don’t think the beginning of 2021 is going to be any better than what we are experiencing now but hopefully it will improve as the months go by.

I wish you all well…lets try and make the most of a bad situation, take care and respect each other plus do our bit to make the world a better place.

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I’m going to try and give this a bash, have been nagged on many occasions to start a blog. (You know who you are).

I’ve set myself a goal for 2018 and that is to try and find special places, interesting facts, special people who live in each and every suburb of the greater Johannesburg. Have you any idea how many suburbs there are? About 80 plus and that’s not including the townships which I hope to do as well.

If you live in a suburb of Joburg and have something interesting to share please drop me a line.

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The Javett Art Centre – Pretoria

The Javett Art Centre is not in Joburg but rather in Pretoria, so you might be wondering why I’m blogging about it. I was a guest of Strauss & Co on a recent trip to the Art Centre and from receiving the invite to climbing into the transport provided, I was excited. I had heard so much about the Javett Art Centre but the thought of driving through to Pretoria sort of put a halt on things as I’m not a keen highway driver.

The building, designed by Pieter Mathews of Mathews and Associate Architects, is impressive. The building links the University of Pretoria to the eastern side of the city by a bridge over Lynnwood road. We arrived on the UP side of the centre (as seen in the cover photograph).

 

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This is the entrance on the eastern side.

The Art Centre houses four exhibitions at the moment:

  • 101 – Collecting Conversations – a collection of 101 signature works of South African artists selected from collections around the country.
  • All in a Day’s Eye – The politics of Innocence in the Javett Family collection of South African modern art.
  • National Treasures – an exhibition of significant gold pieces from the Mapungubwe Gold collection and more than 350 artifacts from the Anglo Gold Ashanti Barbier-Mueller Gold of Africa collection. This collection is a must see, unfortunately the lighting in the exhibition made it difficult to photograph.
  • A Strange Thing Materialised Along the Way – a selection of quirky objects from the University’s Museums.

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Wim Botha’s “Commune – Suspension of Disbelief” a life size crossless crucifix made from stacks of bibles bolted together, hangs over the atrium.  A Houtlander “Chaste” bench hugs the balustrade.

We were met by Kutlwano Mokgojwa who showed us around, pausing at some of the pieces to give us a bit of background on the art and the artists. This really should be put on everyone’s list of places to visit.

Here are a few of my favourite pieces.

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Reshada Crouse – “Passive Resistance” used to hang in the foyer of the Nelson Mandela Theatre and pays tribute to the role of the theatre during the struggle. It was interesting to see how many of our local actors and actresses one can spot in the painting.

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Alexis Preller – “Discovery” depicting the discovery of the trade routes. The painting was commissioned by the then Transvaal Provisional Government and hung in their boardroom. 

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Hilary Jackson Graham – “The Wreck of the Mendi” explores the tragic sinking of the SS Mendi which carried black South African troops to the Western Front during World War One. The painting is owned by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum of Art in Port Elizabeth.

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Willie Bester – “Elections 1994”

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Mary Sibande – “Cry Havoc” sits proudly in the middle of a space filled with local artists works.

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We take a break before heading back. On the wall is a collection of Sam Nhlengethwa’s works – I’m a huge fan of his and also Houtlander whose “Preservation” bench is a work of art. 

There is so much more to see and think about that I will definitely have to return sometime soon. Thank you to Strauss & Co (https://www.straussart.co.za) for the invite and to JavettUP (javettup.org.za) for hosting us.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/The+Javett+Art+Centre+at+the+University+of+Pretoria/@-25.7563964,28.2261797,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x1e9561bd64f640d9:0xe127f20671fc2ef7!8m2!3d-25.7564012!4d28.2283684

 

 

 

It’s not just any street, it’s Queen Street.

Yesterday, The Joburg Photowalkers choose Queen Street as part of their “Alphabet Photo Challenge”. Being part of this group, it was great to have my fellow photography friends visit my hood. We met at Cut & Craft, one of the popular restaurants on the street, which opens at six thirty in the morning. This time suited us as we planned to capture the early morning rising sun but also because there would be minimal traffic on the street at that early hour. We ventured up and down the semi quite street until businesses opened, stopping for breakfast in between.

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Cut & Craft – a great place for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just a quick snack and coffee. http://www.cutcraftbistro.co.za or on Facebook @cutcraftbistro

I drive up and down this street on a regular basis, stopping off only at the businesses I have on my agenda to either get something or to meet someone for a “catch up”. Walking the street yesterday made me realise what an awesome street we have right on our doorstep, filled with interesting shops some which have been around for a number of years and some that I got to experience yesterday for the first time. It is quite amazing what you discover when you walk down a street as opposed to driving it.

I’ll let the photographs do the rest.

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Wilson Stone/Steel for all your paving, planters, fire surrounds etc., plus there are rooms full of great gift ideas – pop in, you’ll be surprised. http://www.wilsonstone.co.za

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Country Flowers is just so welcoming with a sweet smell of jasmine on either side of the entrance. Great gift ideas for the nature lover. (apologies for the pavement but I gather they are fixing the water meter) http://www.countryflowersonline.co.za

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Touch Wood – this is such a welcome addition to Queen Street. Their showroom is full of beautiful furniture plus they have a very cute coffee stop called Crate. http://www.touchwoodsa.co.za

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Refurbishing your home and need a period door, windows, floor boards etc. – the guys at The Yard will be able to help you. http://www.theyard.co.za

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Bespoke is just the place for that unusual lamp you’ve been looking for – these camera ones were my favourites. Find them on Facebook @bespokelamps.

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Ye Olde Collector – Looking for porcelain, glass, copper and brass ware, figurines, etc. – you are sure to find something here. Find more details on their Facebook page @yeoldecollector.

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The decor at Reception Kitchen and Bar will have you in awe, the double decker bus in the garden will blow you away. A must visit. Find them on Facebook @ReceptionKitchenandBar

 

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There is so much more to this street, from restaurants serving a variety of foods, to coffee shops, antique shops, charity stores, a butchery and spice shop, etc. etc. – just to many to mention here.  So, next time you are passing through do make time to park your car, take a stroll and end off with a meal or drink before heading home – you won’t regret it.

(I wish I could have included all the fantastic businesses/shops that we have on this street but that would take away some of the surprises you will get when you walk down Queen Street.)

http://www.google.com/maps/place/Queen+St,+South,+Kensington,+Johannesburg/@-26.1869282,28.1048545,17z/data

 

 

For the Love of Jozi – Houghton Estate.

Houghton Estate, including both Upper and Lower Houghton as they are known, is steeped in history, wealth, beautiful green spaces –  two of which are golf clubs – and is home to some of Johannesburg’s best schools. It lies between Killarney, Melrose Estate, Norwood and Bellevue.  It was established after the second Anglo-Boer war and named after the owners of the land, the Houghton Estate Gold Mining Company which was formed in 1889. Munro Drive, which has spectacular views to the north, falls within it’s boundaries. There is so much to this suburb but let start with my favourite space.

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The new entrance to The Wilds.

The Wilds – recently restored to a beautiful, popular green Joburg space. It all began with a dog named Pablo who needed a space to walk, run and play. His master, local artist James Delaney, who lives close by began cleaning up the overgrown shrubbery and in order to honour Nelson Mandela on Madiba day 2017 created 67 metal owls which he installed in the trees. An interest was created and people wanting to see this installation visited and fell in love with the space. Not long after this, volunteers were at hand to help James clean up more areas, paint the benches, donate and plant plants and pull weeds as they walk along the pathways. A lot more of James’ animal creatures have been installed including a life size pink and yellow giraffe. Do visit and see what you can find.

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This space aptly named the Giraffe Lawn.

The Wilds was recently awarded a Blue Plaque – “The Wilds was established in 1924 on a donation of land by the Houghton Estate Township. Co. to the City. It was landscaped with indigenous flora first displayed at the 1936 Empire Exhibition, and attractive water features were added in the 1950’s. The City dedicated the park to the memory of Jan Smuts after his death in 1950. The elegant pedestrian bridge was built in 1965, and the impressive greenhouses were a gift from JCI in 1966. The Wilds was declared a National Monument in 1981.”  To read more and find out about walks, events etc. at The Wilds join their Facebook page “Friends of The Wilds”.

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Walking along these paths – one forgets that you are in the heart of the city.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation – Ever wondered what Nelson Mandela’s post-presidential office looked like? Then visit the Nelson Mandela Foundation –  it’s a beautiful building and well worth a visit. There is also a permanent exhibition dedicated to the life and times, works and writings of the late Madiba. It’s a place most of us drive past on a regular basis but never think of going into.

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Nelson Mandela Foundation.

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This was Madiba’s post presidential office from 2002 – 2010.

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A permanent exhibition of Madiba’s life. The glass enclosure in the middle represents his cell on Robben Island.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation is situated at 107 Central Street, Houghton.  It’s advisable to check what days one can visit on or otherwise just keep an eye open for the many temporary exhibitions that are held there. (www.nelsonmandela.org)

Houghton Estate is really spoilt for choice when it comes to green spaces – from The Wilds and Killarney Country Club to the beautiful Houghton Golf Club where you can enjoy a drink or meal overlooking the greens.

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Houghton Golf Club.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Houghton+Estate,+Johannesburg,+2198

 

 

My journey with – The long march to Freedom.

My journey with The Long March to Freedom started way back in 2015 when on a visit to One Eloff in  downtown Johannesburg, I visited the studio of Nkhensani Rihlampfu. He was working on a statue of Basil D’Olivera, the first non white South African to play English County cricket. I was in awe of the detail on D’Olivera’s jersey and the size of the statue. At this stage I did not anticipate the magnitude of this exhibition.

On my first visit to this amazing collection of statues that make up “The Long March to Freedom” exhibition (which was first located at Fountain Valley Park just outside Pretoria), we were greeted by a very friendly guide named Tumo, who took us through the park explaining each statue in detail, whilst also protecting me from the harsh sun under an umbrella while I took photographs.

The collection starts off with the first chiefs and ends with the last activists, showcasing South Africa’s struggle for liberation over a period of 350 years.

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I was happy to find the completed statue of Basil D’Olivera 

The brain child of Dali Tambo (also Director of the National Heritage Project), the exhibition came about after he visited his father Oliver Tambo’s grave and assured him that he would make a statue of him to honour his part in the struggle. He heard his father’s reply from beyond the grave saying “Don’t do it just for me – do it for all of them.”

The exhibition now has close to 100 statues and has involved 40 professional sculptors, 8 South African Foundries and 5 less experienced artists who have been trained and mentored in the art of bronze sculpture. It is also the largest collection of bronze statues in one exhibition in the world.

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Ida Mntwana the second president of the ANC Women’s League and first president of the Federation of South African Women. (Artist – Sarah Lovejoy.)

Earlier this year the statues were moved to Maropeng, located in the Cradle of Humankind. This site, I feel, is far better suited to the exhibition and I love the natural surroundings  adding to the statues lifelike appearances as they march across the veld (the astro turf and close proximity of the fence that was at Fountain Valley have been left behind – thank heavens) .

I was fortunate enough to be invited to brunch at the Maropeng Hotel and the unveiling of the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela statue on Valentines day where Dali Tambo gave a wonderful talk on the role of the women in the struggle, reminding us as well that “Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them, let’s keep them alive by remembering them.”

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Madiba and Winnie march hand in hand.

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I did enjoy my moment with Madiba at Fountain Valley before Winnie came along.

Another highlight of my journey was to be invited by 2Summers to visit Nkhensani’s studio again and one of the foundries used in the casting of these statues, The Workhorse Bronze Foundry, in downtown Joburg not too far from One Eloff. I never realised the amount of work involved in this process and now have a new found appreciation for all bronzes.

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Rina Noto the studio manager at the Workhorse Bronze Foundry takes us through the process of casting a bronze sculpture.

I highly recommend a visit to “The Long March to Freedom” and while you are there explore the Maropeng Visitors Centre, maybe even book an overnight stay at the hotel.

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Some of the statues in the collection.

This is definitely not the end of my journey with this exhibition, but more like the beginning, as I share these statues, the knowledge behind their making and their role in our history with family and friends.

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Tumo Bopape our wonderful guide always ready with an umbrella, be it for the heat at Fountain Valley or the pouring rain at Maropeng.

http://www.google.com/maps/place/The+Cradle+of+Humankind+Visitors+Centre+Maropeng

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