ONE YEAR IN THE CITY OF GOLD – A CAPETONIANS PERSPECTIVE
Time is a funny thing. If it were a tangible object, it would be the most prized commodity on the planet. We all want more time in our lives, but we also cannot wait for the week to be over. We should be enjoying every minute of life if it’s going well or not. It’s already been one year since I packed up my life and moved to Johannesburg and it’s been a life experience I would never take back. There have been some ups and downs, but in the year that I’ve lived here, I’ve learnt a lot about myself and South African’s who live outside of the Western Cape (because South Africa to us Capetonians is just the Western Cape 😂).
I often get asked which city I prefer, but I usually don’t like to compare the two as they both have their own differences that make them unique. I have written this post on how I have experienced Johannesburg and what has really stood out for me, compared to Cape Town.
A common comment that has been said about Johannesburg is that people tend to be less cliquey than Capetonians, they’re much friendlier and are more welcoming. I have to agree with this statement, BUT I have a theory as to why I think this is.
You see, in Cape Town, we have outdoor activities for days. We have scores of mountains and an endless array of beautiful beaches. With this being said, when you have your set of friends and all these activities, I guess you don’t really need to make an effort to meet new people as you just need your squad and you’re set. While in Johannesburg, you don’t have the luxury of mountains and beaches on your doorstep, instead, you have shopping malls, clubs, and restaurants. Your social life plays a big role here because that’s all you have here, and if you’re going to be a dick, you’re not going to have any friends which equals you not having a social life.
This doesn’t mean Capetonians are completes assholes, I guess they just don’t really need to make as much of an effort?
If you’re a consumer-whore and love shopping, you’ll be in heaven here. I have never seen so many fokin shopping malls in my life. Literally every few blocks, there’s a shopping mall. I’m starting to think there are more shopping malls than schools. Joburg is home to the biggest shopping malls in Africa, like Mall of Africa in Midrand, and currently under construction is Fourways Mall, which is set to be even bigger. Need I say more about Joburg and it’s fetish for consumerism?
When I was in Thailand a few years ago, I had never seen so many inked people in one area, in Joburg, I have never seen so many people with bad tattoos. Don’t get me wrong, there are also some seriously talented tattooists that reside here but there are shit tons of people with the most vuil tattoos. It’s like a prisoner from Polsmoor Prison finished his 2-year sentence for murder and relocated to Johannesburg to start a fresh life as a tattoo artist. Then in a bid to make Jesus forgive him and allow him into heaven, he also gave them out for free. They’re on par with my homemade tattoos my friends and I did on each other when we were in high in boarding school. However, if you are looking to get inked by a talented artist, check my boy Kyle B on the Westrand.
One of the biggest eye-openers, I would have to say is the crime. When I arrived at my first apartment, the complex was barb wired up to the brim and topped with some electric fencing, plus 24-hour-guards also come standard at every complex. Then you get complexes that include that with double boom gates and security codes that need to be sent to you via WhatsApp from the person you are visiting for you to punch in at the gate. You also can’t tailgate when entering a complex even if you are a resident. I had no prior knowledge about this and one day when I was arriving home, a family that was living in my complex were entering and I wasn’t keen to wait for the gate to close and open again, so I tailgated them and the next minute they were completely freaking out.
They kakked their pants as they thought I was trying to hijack them, which is understandable as hijacking is the bread and butter activity for criminals around these parts. This concerning criminal trade has me keeping my eyes peeled at all times and yielding at red lights when it’s very late at night.
This video below is one of the recent cash-in-transit heists that happened in Boksburg.
Imagine travelling from Claremont to Cape Town CBD, that’s pretty much the standard driving distance to get to any place here. This place is poes big. When I first heard this, I didn’t really understand it, but you will soon enough. There’s also no mountain or ocean to give you a sense of direction so at first, literally everyplace will look the same. My Google Maps App rode shotgun with me for a few months but having been a driver in my pre-advertising life, I’ve learnt to pick up on different driving routes and familiarise myself quickly with new areas. If I’m venturing out far, I will sometimes use my GPS.
When it comes to robots (traffic lights) in Johannesburg, green means go, amber means go and red means go for another 3 seconds. I’ve witnessed this at least once every few days and it’s coerced me into looking left and right before going through a green light. Almost daily I see leftover debris from an accident, or a robot (traffic light), lying on its side that’s someone has deemed fit for playing bumper cars. As I finished writing this section of the article, a work colleague was in a car accident due to this. Cape Town may be slower with traffic when I was living there, and I usually found myself complaining about how slow we drive, but keep doing you Cape Town, you’re doing fine.
When it comes to roadblocks and spot checks, I’ve been through more here in one year than the 11 years that I’ve been driving in Cape Town. You’d think this is pretty good, but it doesn’t help when nearly every cop can be bribed. Friends of mine have said to have bribed the police with either R1000, R500, R30 or even just a StreetWise Two from KFC for the boys! 😂
So, these are the five things that really stood out for me in Johannesburg. I haven’t touched on the party scene in this post as I’ve already done so in my previous one, “A Capetonians guide to jolling in Joburg.” Joburg is a really fast-paced city that doesn’t slow down. I find every few weeks I need to get out of the city for the weekend as it’s crazy busy and you’ll literally go mad. (There are some legit places to visit outside of Joburg) If you want to up your career and earn more money, this is the place, not to mention the cost of living is much cheaper here than bladdy Cape Town.
It really has been a great experience so far and I would urge anyone thinking of doing it to just take the plunge and give it a try.