Monday, June 17, 2013

Soweto- The most vibrant local community in Johannesburg, South Africa

Soweto is a thriving indigenous community, located in the outskirts of Johannesburg in South Africa. Witnessing the marvelling audacity and indomitable spirit of Soweto Township is a truly edifying and memorable experience. Soweto is characterised by friendship, vibrancy and sharp contrasts. It’s a land that had withstood institutional oppression and systematic intimidation, to champion and foster the vigorous and unrelenting quest for civil liberties and fundamental freedoms. It’s a land where the reprehensible impact of apartheid was most intense; and also where sustained momentum to topple the regime most endured.
Highlights of any tour to Soweto include the Chris Hani Baragwaneth Hospital, the largest hospital in the Southern hemisphere; taxi ranks, multi-shops and traditional healers. Equally rewarding is a visit to a squatter camp or informal settlement, where one can acquire local art and craft items. Other important highlights include the following:
Freedom Square is where the People’s Bill or Right, known as the ‘Freedom Charter’, was finalised and agreed upon.
Nelson Mandela’s formal home is a four-room small house, which has now been transformed into a museum. Just a stone thrown from Nelson Mandela’s home is the formal home of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who was also a prominent warrior against the apartheid regime. Nelson Mandela’s formal home in this area is one of the most visited sites in the country.

The Lion Park in Johannesburg, South Africa

The Lion Park is beautifully nestled in proximity to Lanseria Airport and Fourways, quickly reachable from both Johannesburg and Pretoria.  The park contains a wide assortment of predators and large herbivores native to South Africa. The park covers an area of 2 km² (500 acres); and is home to more than 80 lions, including the rare white lions, in conjunction with numerous other carnivores, such as cheetah, wild dog, brown spotted hyena and back backed jackal. Also residing in the park is a broad variety of free roaming antelopes, which inhabit a designated antelope area. Other species which dwell in the antelope area include blesbok, gnu, impala, gemsbok and zebra.
Visitors have an opportunity to interact with some of the animals in the ‘Cub World’ area. A giraffe feeding platform puts you at eye level with the tame resident giraffe, creating a thrilling and unprecedented experience for everyone. The hugely popular cub interaction allows guests to touch the cubs and take photographs.

South African attractions-Johannesburg Botanical Gardens and Emmarentia Dam

The Johannesburg stunning Botanical Gardens are situated on the western shores of the popular Emmarentia Dam, only 6km (4ml) from the central business district. The park contains recreational open space conducive for an assortment of outdoor leisurely activities, such as walking a dog, riding a bicycle, jogging or simply taking a relaxed and refreshing promenade within its setting. 
This admirable 81ha botanical wonder is set in the midst of three dams, which were established in 1866, approximately the same time that the park was also pioneered.
The park boasts an amazing collection of 30.000 trees; among them, exotic species such as oaks, redwoods and birches; alongside a wide variety of indigenous species.

In the northern part of the park, the formal gardens feature terraced ponds and fountains; while the 4 500 rose bushes enable an awesome summer display in the Shakespearean garden. The herb garden contains plants of medicinal, culinary and cosmetic value.
The succulent garden, which may be visited only by appointment, boasts about 2 500 species. Indigenous vegetation is encouraged in the reed beds and Highveld grassland areas.
In the north-east of the garden, the dam provides opportunities for water sports, such as canoeing and sailing of small boats. Bird species include geese, dabchicks, moorhens and other waterfowls.
Events of frequent occurrence in the park include wedding parties, photography and picnics. In summer, the park also hosts open air musical concerts, which have proven to be of tremendous popularity.

South African attractions -The Origins Centre in Johannesburg

The Origins Centre is located in the Wedge at Yale Road in Johannesburg; and is operated in partnership with the University of Witwatersrand’s archaeological department. Significant archaeological materials have revealed time and time again that Africa is the cradle of humanity, or the mother of mankind. Credible and compelling scientific data testifies that, the Homo sapiens species, which humans comprise, sprang in Africa; and later spread to other parts of the planet. The museum is therefore entirely dedicated to exploring and celebrating the emergence, history and subsequent evolution of humanity. Through a well executed fusion of avant-garde technology and creative vision, the sequential structure of the museum enables visitors to get a glimpse into the complex and sometimes mysterious history of mankind.
The museum commences with an exploration of the origin of Homo sapiens; and provides a structured and persuasive hypothesis on how humans spread from Africa to the rest of the world.
The second section of the museum covers the evolution of art, symbolism, technology and language in Africa. Exhibitions, film, holograms and touch screens, coupled with narratives, spotlight the heritage of the San people (Bushman), whose genetic DNA print has been linked to the early Homo sapiens (160 000 years ago). Much is illustrated as regards the rock art, ancient tools, belief systems and significant spiritual dances of the San people.
The exploration highlights the destruction of the fascinating and diverse Southern African rock art traditions by foreign elements, and terminates more positively with the rediscovery of these ancient masterpieces in the contemporary world. On display is an extensive collection of rock art from the Witwatersrand University Art Research Institute. Exhibitions at the museum demonstrate how our understanding of human evolution has been enhanced by genetic testing.

Johannesburg tourist attractions -The Apartheid Museum

The Apartheid Museum went operational in 2001; and is primarily dedicated to exhibitions pertaining to the former reprehensible regime of apartheid in South Africa.  Exhibitions in the museum provide a well serviced chronology of how the brutal political mindset of apartheid emerged, and the series of dramatic and sometimes tragic events that resulted in the ultimate collapse of that barbaric regime. Equally on display in the museum are the experiences of the selfless heroes, who took this brutal political bull by the horn; and served as a thorn in the flesh of its retrograde agenda. Therefore, the museum offers an illustrative visual panorama of the rise and fall of apartheid.

The museum occupies a surface area of seven hectares; depicting a terrific epitome of design, space and landscape; which offers the international community a unique South African experience.

The exhibits have been assembled and organised by a multi-disciplinary team of curators, film-makers, historians and designers. They include provocative film footage, photographs, text panels and artefacts illustrating the events and human stories that are part of the epic saga, known as apartheid.
A series of 22 individual exhibition areas takes the visitor through a dramatic emotional journey that recounts the tragedy of a state-sanctioned system, based on racial discrimination and the endless struggle of the majority to unseat this tyranny. The museum provides a vivid illustration of the methods and formulae employed by this autocratic regime, to suppress its victims of circumstances. Themes on exhibition include the following: race classification; journeys, segregation, apartheid, life under apartheid, the homelands, the rise of black consciousness, political executions, roots of compromise, Mandela’s release etc.
Between 1994 and 1996, South Africa's first fully democratic parliament, sitting as the Constitutional Assembly, enacted South Africa's new constitution, which contains clauses designed for the extensive guarantee of equality than anywhere else in the world. Critical to this scheme are seven fundamental values which are represented by the seven pillars in the first courtyard; comprising: democracy, equality, reconciliation, diversity, responsibility, respect and freedom.