Tag Archives: Johannesburg

In the City

I live in Randburg, on the outskirts of the greater Johannesburg Metropolitan area. I go into the centre of Johannesburg as little as possible. First of all there is the traffic going into town and clogging up the streets once you get there. Then, some areas have reputations for crime and lawlessness. Finally, I remember the city as full of litter, noise, bustle and crowds – much like other big cities worldwide.

Just before Christmas there was a special on a hop-on hop-off bus tour of Johannesburg and my husband and I thought we’d grab the opportunity.

Our bus

I was in for a pleasant surprise. The first place we left the bus at was Zoo Lake.

It was quiet and peaceful with a couple of security guards, some joggers, cyclists and a family or two. What a contrast to my mind’s picture of a city.

The next place we explored was the mining district in the centre of town where the stock exchange and banks are. It was a Saturday and the streets were very quiet. We found a quaint coffee bar and enjoyed a cappuccino. The proprietor told us it was very quiet on Saturdays because most people work from Monday to Friday.

Along a street, which was part walkway, mining artifacts and history information boards preened. “Look at us!” they invited.

Our next stop was Gold Reef City Hotel. It was a short stop so the driver could refresh himself and we decided to stay with the bus rather than wander around Gold Reef City which is a day’s outing on its own.

Finally we got to what I’d been waiting for all morning – SciBono, a science and technology discovery centre. We spent two hours there. As a scientist, I was more interested in the centre than my husband was but it’s a wonderful gem in the heart of Newtown.

Our last stop before our loop ended was Constitution Hill, where we saw the flame of democracy. We could have taken a tour but my husband had done it before and I was just toured out.

We had a wonderful day and my view of my own city has changed from a mostly negative picture to something more positive and even uplifting.

This positive attitude to cities in general was reinforced by our sermon on Sunday where Pastor Richard told us that God loves cities. God loves people and He loves cities because that is where more people are.

Tim Keller, in his “Theology of Cities” writes about the New Jerusalem, “This city is the Garden of Eden remade. The city is the fulfillment of the purposes of the Eden of God. We began in a garden but will end in a city: God’s purpose for humanity is urban!”

Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions:” (John 14:2 KJV). That implies a city. I’d never thought of it before.

My Prayer

Father God, thank You for designing cities. Thank You that one day I can live in the New Jerusalem because Jesus has gone to prepare a place for me. Amen.

This post is part of JusJoJan

Neighbourhood Ballad

Today’s poetry assignment is to write a ballad about our nighbourhood. I didn’t use the traditional ballad meter but a slight adaption. I was inspired by “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyles.

Ballad of a Johannesburg Suburb

The moon is a silver sickle, reaping the leaden skies,

The road is a glimmering serpent with streetlight splotchy eyes.

The house is a silent sleeper untroubled by night bird cries

Outside the gate, lie crouching, crouching, crouching,

Outside the gate lie crouching armed men in their black disguise.



They wait for a minute in silence, watching with eyes stretched wide,

Then creep to the gate frame and grab it, two on either side,

They lift it away from the runners and carefully lay it aside,

And the neighbourhood stays sleeping, sleeping, sleeping,

The neighbourhood stays sleeping while they silently slip inside.


The new Mercedes glistens as the movement sensor lights,

The big Rottweiler twitches as the darkness seems more bright

Then he wakes with a start and listens and his nose picks up the fright

He makes no sound but charges, charges, charges,

He makes no sound but charges with his jaws all set to bite.


A shot rings out in the darkness, the panic button’s pressed,

The silent alarm activates and summons the city’s best,

But the dog lies slowly dying with a bullet in his chest.

The flying squad comes screeching, screeching, screeching,

The flying squad comes screeching ready to face the test.


Over the gravel they grapple and grab in the bright headlight,

They tackle two men as they’re running and a third ones’s taken flight,

But the forth man’s taking aim and his gun explodes with light

And the policeman shoots as he’s falling, falling, falling,

The policeman shoots as he’s falling on that fateful August night.


Noise, confusion, panic, the night has seen them all,

Ambulances blaring and sirens sound the call,

And gun smoke lingers cloying, deathlike, like a pall.

The children are all crying, crying, crying

The children are all crying into their mother’s shawl.


They take away the bodies, They take away the men,

They take down all the details with their black unfeeling pen,

That little happy family won’t be the same again.

They always will be fearing, fearing, fearing,

They always will be fearing another night like then.