Monday, March 14, 2011

Inner City Adventures-Religion and Pipe Smoking in the City of Gold

I have had a really busy week in Jozi which means I am going to have to write two blog posts this week. My first blog is going to be about an absolutely fabulous day I had in Joburg.

The day started off with a Rea Vaya ride to Regina Mundi in Rockville, Soweto. I have mentioned the church before as it is definitely my favourite site in Soweto. What is so great about the church is that it isn't a tourist attraction but rather a functioning church. It can be found slap bang in the middle of Soweto and is often called the "Mother" or "Protector" of Soweto. Regina Mundi which means "Mother of the World" is a catholic church home to one of the few black Madonna's in the world. It became famous in the 1970's as it is where many children involved in the student uprising ran for safety. The church is not just a tourist attraction but rather plays a crucial role in the community. When we were visiting on Thursday they were just finishing up their weekly soup kitchen. Outside the church, some bubbly local ladies have set up a few tables of handmade craft. I have walked past it so many times when I am taking tourists around the site but finally had a good look. I was pleasantly surprised! They have made the most stunning mosaics of the "black Madonna". They are about R130-00 -totally worth it. The artists who make the tiles are: Sonto, Tebogo, Nokwazi, Zandi and Marry. If you would like any more info contact Tebogo on 0733746712. My company does a great tour of Regina Mundi-email if you are interested.

We then caught the bus back into town for lunch at the Marshall Inn- a great little inner city bar and restaurant. It, like many older inner city spots, may look a little dodgy at first but once you explore them a little further, they prove to be special, unique and worth a visit! It has been owned by the same Portuguese family for over 20 years and is situated in the mining district on Marshall Street, just near Khotso House. The main bar which is up the stairs is cosy and full of business people from the area. I cant wait to go back unfortunately it is only open during the week until 18h00. It still has a fabulous old credit card advert on the door- I love it when things like this survive!

On our way back to the car which was in Newtown, we had a couple of fun experiences. I always meet the most awesome and special people while walking around the inner city. On this particular day we ended up walking behind a large group of elderly ladies in their distinctive blue and white Church uniforms. We got talking when one of them told my boyfriend that she loves him! Other than that priceless piece of info, they told us that they had been at a meeting at Khotso House (Marshall Street). (Khotso House is a bustling religious centre that is home to the South African Council of Churches and played an important role in the anti-apartheid struggle. The building became known in the 1980's when a bomb just about destroyed it. It was later found during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that former South African President PW Botha personally ordered the bombing). To get back to the church ladies, when we asked them which church they were affiliated with, they told us the "South African United Apostolic Church of Christ in Mufolo Soweto" under the "Archbishop IM Khumalo"...what a mouthfull! The ladies where even kind enough to let us take a photo! Total characters.

We were then walking down Diagonal Street, when both my friend Tania and my other half Justin decided that they would like to start smoking a pipe! yes you heard me right...A PIPE! an old mans pipe! They both then bought one..ok they only cost R20 so it wasnt like they exactley broke the bank. It was really funny and they actually suprisingly both suit a pipe. The Diagonal Street area is full of fun little shops that sell things like pipes. Tania bought me a fab hollow ivory looking pendant that you would traditionally put snuff or herbs in! I LOVE IT!

The city is just so alive and unique! I have been to many city's in South Africa and the rest of the world but none are as friendley or vibrant as Jozi! how lucky we are to live here.

I also had a great city exploration on Saturday which i will blog about during the week.

Be in touch soon- the JHB Tour Guide.