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Angus and Photographing in Joburg

March 29

My travel agents, Jean and Ahdina Zunkel, have kindly arranged for me to spend the day with Angus Begg, a CNN award-winning television producer, and the first South African broadcast journalist to report from the chaos of Somalia in 1992. He went on to cover the Rwandan genocide of ’94 and South Africa’s first democratic elections the same year, for which he was nominated for the national public service radio awards.

 It was these episodes in Somalia and Rwanda that took him the roundabout route to the fields of travel and environment, in which he now writes, produces and photographs. He found that the experience was as much a travel story as tracking gorillas or reviewing a luxury lodge in the Kruger tPark. He learnt about the role of people in travel too. With considerable experience in the various media since then – TV, print, radio, photography and the internet – Angus has gone on to cover every aspect of travel, whether rural communities clashing with wildlife, tracking the Serengeti migration, hiking Table Mountain or searching for that perfect the sauvignon blanc.

After breakfast, Angus and I meet at my hotel and are driven by Freedom to Mayfair and Fordsburg, areas of Joburg that tourists do not see. Angus is easy to be with, flexible and has a journalist’s knack for engaging people in easy conversation. The areas that we visit are full of a mix of Somali, Indian, Pakistani and Chinese. There we interact and have conversations with locals, including an older Somali fellow who does not want to have his photo taken. He thinks we take pictures because “we think they are monkeys.” After conversation, he allows that he doesn’t think I fall into that group, but still does not want to have his picture taken. An older couple from Botswana sits having coffee. They have been married for 48 years and seem to be enjoying the morning. A young Pakistani fellow stands, arms folded, in his food shop and a young Indian father is happy to show off his two young children in front of his pratha shop. At a coffee shop, two young women are inhaling hashish in order to relieve the stress of their bank jobs. A man and young boy have their hair cut on the street. A woman does beadwork at a downtown market.

We walk around downtown Joburg, which looks much like any large city on a Friday afternoon. Though the city has a reputation of not being very safe, I would not have felt that way except that Freedom and Angus repeatedly warned me to guard and hang on tight to any valuables.We had lunch at a venerable old club, the Rand Cub, that was a power center, not open to women until a few years ago, in the days when gold ruled Joburg, in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Here are photos of me with Angus and of Freedom.

After lunch, we visited the fascinating and well-designed Origin of Man Centre at University of the Witwatersrand. We needed at least twice the hour and a half that we had to devote to the museum, but I am very glad that we visited it because I think it will give me an appreciation for some other things I will see on the photo trip that I will be embarking on Sunday.

After the museum, I went back to the hotel to rest briefly. Freedom picks me up and drove me to the Oxford Synagogue, where I had been told that the eveningm the restaurant service would last 45 minutes. In fact, it lasted an hour and a quarter. Some 80 or more people attended in a room that looks like a social hall. The rabbi was from Israel and the Cantor played a guitar. Some of the melodies were familiar and others were not. People are very friendly and I’m glad to have gone. I was invited to stay afterwards for a meal at the synagogue, but I could not because my hotel had made a dinner reservation for me at Bellagio Restaurant. The restaurant and dinner were both first-rate.

I return to the hotel to finish blogging. Of course the way I got back to the hotel from the restaurant was by calling for an Uber. The world is getting very small and very similar.

5 comments to Angus and Photographing in Joburg

  • Ahdina

    Relieving stress from your bank job with the hashish is by far my favorite!!!

  • Susie Kiphart

    Amazing. If I just saw these photos scattered across a table I would think they were from completely different places.

  • Phoebe Snell

    It’s so cool that all of those different cultures are living together and that you got to see some parts of Joburg that tourists usually don’t! An interesting conversation with the man who didn’t want to have a photo taken, and great photos.
    Phoebe

  • Zoe

    I love the pictures! Glad you made it! I’m excited for the next installment!

  • Rick

    Cubs won their opener 12-4 over the Rangers. They have been scoring
    double digit runs in the last several games.

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