The Death of Johannesburg

by Baron Bodissey via AANCC oct 07

A couple of days ago a reader sent us a link to “The Death of Johannesburg”, a blog run by a fellow who calls himself the Real Realist. It’s not just a single blog; it’s a series of photo galleries set up as separate blogs to reduce the bandwidth drag for readers who load the pages. When you go over there, you’ll want to click your way through the various gallery links and spend some time browsing through the various photos.

The end of apartheid in South Africa in the early the 1990s was a cause for celebration. After Nelson Mandela became president, and national reconciliation became the order of the day, most of the world’s attention turned elsewhere.

But South Africa didn’t turn into a multi-racial paradise. It hasn’t yet gone the way of Zimbabwe, but there are ominous signs that it is heading in that direction.

The Real Realist has taken it upon himself to document the changes in South Africa as exemplified by the city of Johannesburg. There are few before-and-after photos in his galleries — his effort has been to record the current state of the city. But the damaged, filthy, gutted, and ruined modern buildings speak plainly enough about the decline of the city.

Here’s one of the few before-and-after comparisons:

Joubert Park was one of the first open spaces for Johannesburg’s inner city, proclaimed in 1906 but planned in 1887 and named after Boer War hero, Commandant-General PJ Joubert. It used to be a place where the city council put up Christmas lights, where choirs would sing Christmas carols…

Joubert Park

nowadays it’s just a slum with squatters living there…

Joubert Park