Exploring South Africa – Gauteng Province

Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city and capital of Gauteng province, the wealthiest South African province was our next stop! Popularly known as Jozi or Joburg, it is one of the fifty largest urban areas in the world. The city is located in the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills and is the center of large-scale gold and diamond trade.

The metropolis is an alpha global city as listed by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. In 2011, the population of the city of Johannesburg was 4,434,827, making it the most populous city in South Africa. In the same year, the population of Johannesburg’s urban agglomeration was put at 7,860,781.

Johannesburg began as a 19th-century gold-mining settlement with its sprawling Soweto township housing two of Noble Peace Prize winners – freedom fighter and former South African president, Nelson Mandela and renowned human rights activists and Anglican bishop, Desmond Tutu. Originally an acronym for “South-Western Townships”, Soweto originated as a collection of settlements on the outskirts of Johannesburg, populated mostly by native African workers from the gold mining industry.

Soweto, although eventually incorporated into Johannesburg, had been separated as a residential area for blacks, who were not permitted to live in Johannesburg proper. Lenasia is predominantly populated by English-speaking South Africans of Indian descent. These areas were designated as non-white areas in accordance with the segregationist policies of the South African government known as apartheid.

Today, several years after the racist system of governance, apartheid, was brought to an end, Soweto has become a microcosm of the prosperity, poverty and everything in between experienced by the black population of today’s South Africa.

At Soweto, we visited the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, situated in Orlando West, Soweto, which commemorates the role of the country’s students in the struggle against apartheid and in particular the role played by the school children who took part in the Soweto protests of 1976, many of whom were shot by the apartheid police while protesting against the sub-standard of education in black schools in South Africa.

One of the first to be killed by the police was 12-year-old Hector Pieterson. Newspaper photographer Sam Nzima was in Soweto on June 16 covering the protests and the riots which followed. His iconic image of Pieterson’s body being carried by high school student Mbuyisa Makhubo, with his sister, Antoinette Sithole, running alongside, is a graphic representation of repression under the apartheid regime and has become an iconic image around the world of the senseless cruelty and brutality of the apartheid state.

We also visited Nelson Mandela’s former residence which is now the Mandela House museum and other Soweto museums that recount the struggle to end segregation including the somber Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill, a former prison complex.

The Apartheid Museum is a museum complex that illustrates apartheid and the twentieth century history of South Africa. The complex, owned by Gold Reef City Casino, was opened in November 2001 and allows visitors to experience the racial segregation that occurred during Apartheid by separating them by racial appearance classified by the width of the nose, the kinks in hair, skin pigmentation, and size of lips.

After learning about the racial segregation and system of apartheid in South Africa which was banned in 1994, we had to go catch some fun and we couldn’t have gone anywhere more ideal than the Gold Reef City for some adventure. Gold Reef City is an amusement park located on an old gold mine which closed in 1971 and the park is themed around the gold rush that started in 1886 on the Witwatersrand.

Just 8 kilometers from the centre of Johannesburg lies the world famous yet uniquely South AfricanGold Reef City. Gold Reef City is “Pure Jozi, Pure Gold” and provides a multitude of experiences under one roof. Living and breathing twenty four hours a day, the property provides the best of everything; from A-list entertainment to award-winning restaurants to the exhilarating theme park to the excitement of the casino. Pure energy, pure indulgence, pure escape, where Jozi comes to life!

Gold Reef City offers two 4 star hotels, a casino comprising of smoking and non-smoking casinos plus a Prive, the famous Back O’ The Moon Restaurant, the Tsogo Sun owned Vigour& Verve, the largest theme park in the country, home to the Apartheid Museum, a Kaya FM satellite studio, kiddies entertainment facilities, a world class theatre as well as a selection of conferencing and team building options.

Visitors can also enjoy a 6 theatre cinema complex, a bowling alley, a fast food court and additional restaurants. If you want to kick back and take it easy, or suit up and get your game face on, find yourself, lose yourself, we have it all at the Gold Reef City.