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JOHANNESBURG | Diving into history and experiencing our first alcohol ban

On the 28th of December we woke up to the news that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa had announced a total ban on the sale of alcohol from stores, restaurants and bars due to rising COVID infections in the country. This was also the end of our New Year’s Eve rooftop party, so, just like on Christmas Eve, it would probably be us and a Braii with a couple of Beyond Meat sausages. In Sudan we had experienced a time without access to alcoholic beverages before due to Islamic rules. But a ban? New checkmark on our “been there, done that” list!

Of course, we had done our research on what to do in J-Burg and the first stop was Anaconda and the Tower of Terror - wait, what?! Yep, that’s right, before it was time to get deeper into the history of South Africa it was time for some theme park fun in Gold Reef City. Luckily, the lines weren’t too long and we could enjoy the rides until our brains felt mushy!

When the fun times were over it was time for another round of history, this time at the Apartheid Museum which deals with 20th century South Africa, meaning a large part of the exhibition covers the time of the Apartheid.

The museum is an absolute must-see. It is designed to let you relive the most influential time of South African history through multimedia installations as well as theoretical input. On top of that the exhibition recreates first hand experiences such as purchasing a ticket which indicates you as either White or Black. Of course, the first experience of segregation is the entrance - Benzino (white) and I (black) had to use two separate entrances and we were confronted with stories of contemporary witnesses, while walking through a fenced hallway. The uneasy feeling which was established in that first part of the exhibition would never really go away until the exit and even then, lingered on for the rest of the day.

Besides the permanent exhibition there is a separate one on Nelson Mandela which gives an interesting insight on the person and his character.

The museum leaves you behind with a feeling that a lot has changed since the overthrow of the Apartheid regime and while that certainly is true on one hand, the social inequality between black and white people is still very much in your face. This phenomenon becomes most obvious in the townships surrounding South African cities.

Southwest of Johannesburg lies Soweto (short for South Western Townships), the biggest township of South Africa which is home to roughly 1,3 million people. It’s basically a city of its own and due to its size, we decided to explore it with a local guide by bike. Oliver, who was born in Soweto and has spent the last 40 years there, took us on a cruise and showed us his side of the story. When it comes to Mandela, a lot of black South Africans are taking on a different point of view than the one that has its place in history books. Nelson Mandela was one of them, yes, and he achieved outstanding changes for the black population as well as he was the moral conscience of an entire nation who managed to forgive his tormentors after 25 years in prison. Nevertheless, Mandela was also a politician who looked away when the corruption in his own party, the ANC, took over and still is a major issue in South African politics. The irreconcilability between being a moral leader and political decision maker has resulted in a more realistic and de-glorified view on Mandela - at least among the ones who are still suffering from the heritage of the Apartheid.

After a day on bikes that applied to township standards, and Oliver’s interesting insight on life in Soweto, we had to conquer a first world problem: where would we find a bottle of champagne to toast to the very special year that was coming to an end? The answer: not champagne, but a bottle of wine that miraculously appeared from the wine cellar of the hotel we were staying at!

After an awesome vegan breakfast on the morning of the 31st, we spent time at the pool and got ready for our private New Year’s party.

Unfortunately, one us didn’t make it until midnight but the again we’ve had our fair share of excessive New Years when we were able to party past midnight.

During our time in J-Burg we had decided that the final leg of our adventure would actually be not an adventure: it would be all about coming back as tan as possible!

We left South Africa with lots of thoughts but also some sick outfits


TRAVEL TIME: December 28, 2020 - January 2, 2021



Johannesburg : Daze House


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