11 June 2021 — New Frame
South Africa’s largest city is a world city, the home of jazz, art, politics and insurgent popular aspirations. But it is in precipitous decline, making now the time to act.
“What’s the word Johannesburg?” Gil Scott-Heron asked in 1975. An answer came the following year when children in Soweto ran into fascist bullets, their hearts full of courage and resolve to overcome oppression.
Johannesburg – Joburg, Jozi, eGoli, eRhawutini, Gauteng, Maboneng – is a city of gold, lights, barbed wire, jazz, the sun setting into lava, the burnt orange of aloes in flower against dry grass, a great university, men with guns, shopping malls, the sudden malachite of parakeets on the wing above the city forest and the smoke from the braziers hanging low in the shack settlements when winter bites. Its paths are strewn with lumps of quartz, its rivers and rain poisoned and its jacarandas overwhelmingly beautiful in October.