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Archive for the tag “Pretoria”

Kitsch Corner, Tshwane

The Great City of Tshwane has its very own Kitsch Corner.

In Hatfield, in the east of Pretoria, at the corner of Jan Shoba (Duncan) and South Streets, are two buildings that seem to represent concentrated essence of kitsch.
Kitsch01This one looks vaguely like a church, or an office building got up to look like a church. It’s rumoured that somewhere inside there is a church.

Kitsch02On the other side of South Street is this/ It’s a shopping centre/office block of sorts, very 1990s in design, but it is surrounded by fibreglass statues of animals that look quite out of place in the urban or suburban setting.

Kitsch03Looking south along Jan Shoba (Duncan) Street, you can see both buildings adding kitsch upon kitsch. It is clear that the whole is kitschier than the sum of its parts.

Kitsch04One plastic giraffe might have been acceptable, a nice decoration for the parking lot, but add the lion and the elephants and even the poor old giraffe looks ridiculous.

Kitsch05On it’s own, and looking from the front, even the lion on the roof doesn’t look too bad, but when you see it from the side, or in relation to the rest of them, it looks over the top.

Kitsch07Back in the 1950s people used to travel to Pretoria to admitre the architecture of the office buildings, which seemed so much more imaginative than those in Johannesburg. Now those buildings are rather decayed and down-at-heel, and would excite no comment. But would people come from far and wide to see these ones? I doubt it, unless they came to laugh.

Kitsch08So  there it is, in all it’s glory. Kitsch Corner, Tshwane. I wonder if anyone will add to it? But as long as they keep it all in one area, at least it will keep the rest of the city free of it.


Twenty years ago today: first soccer match at Loftus Versveld

We went to Loftus Versveld for a soccer match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Sheffield Wednesday – the first soccer match ever to be held at Loftus, the shrine of Northern Transvaal rugby.

There was a curtain raiser with womens’ teams from Kaizer Chiefs and Sundowns, which was actually the first soccer match at Loftus, and possibly the first time women had played there too. Chiefs won easily.

Then the Sundowns Masters played The Media, and the Media won. The big match was preceded by parachutists coming down onto the fields, and some people paraded round the field carrying a banner saying “Snor city welomes soccer” – a reference to the civil servants, many of whom have moustaches.

It was an exciting game, with plenty of action and movement, and ended in a 2-2 draw. Our daughter Bridget and her friend Tracy were wearing their Intermilan shirts, but got a Sundowns flag to wave too.

It was a historic occasion.

After the rain

As usual we went to church in Mamelodi this morning, for the Hours and Readers Service (Obednitsa), and sang “Many Years” to old Mary Nthite, whose name day it was yesterday.

The sun was shining brightly after the wet and cloudy weather of the last few days, with fluffy white cumulus clouds, and even the old and rather rundown shopping centre looked quite attractive.

On the way home, in East Lynne, we passed a stretch limo that indicates that World Cup fever is beginning to bite.

But it seems that our national team will be nowhere near ready. But we’ve still got a few months to get the national anthem right, however, after the fiasco at a rugby match in France last week. We lost that match, too.

Rain and renovations

I went down to the post office today, to collect a parcel someone had sent me. It took a while to open it, as they were busy mopping the floor. There had been a flood, with all the rain we’ve had lately.

They are also busy renovating the exterior. It was done about 20 years ago — actually the entire interior was rebuilt, and modernised, and they just kept the facade — they had to do that, as it is a historical monument, and part of Church Square in the centre of Pretoria. Back then they renovated the facade too, but it was built of sandstone, which doesn’t weather very well, and it took only about 10 years for the repairs to wash off. So now it looks as though they are preparing to do so again, but this time they will replace the sandstone with more durable granite. Here it was, ready to be put in.

I hope it lasts longer than 20 years this time!

Twenty-first century urban life

My son works at Exclus1ve Books in Menlyn Mall. They used to be Exclusive Books, but they recently changed their name to Exclus1ve Books, presumably to make it easier, or more difficult, as the case may be, to search for on the Internet.

When he’s on night shift he usually cycles to work, and then when he finishes work we go to fetch him, because he doesn’t have a light on his bike, and people tend to drive more dangerously at night. Last night when bringing him home I stopped for a red light and a guy who had been following me overtook and drove through at high speed. He was driving a big BMW. They, of course, are immune from accidents, because all other traffic is expected to automatically get out of the way. Anyway, that kind of thing is why my son doesn’t ride his bike home when he’s on night shift.

When I wait for him to finish work, here’s what I see from one of the parking lots.

The blue lights in the tree seem to be intended as Christmas decorations or something; they’ve been there for a month already. It seems to get earlier every year. If he’s late getting out of the shop I have to leave and drive around the block. They only give you 20 minutes free parking, which is one of the reasons I don’t often shop there myself. There are other shopping malls that give up to 2 hours of free parking on weekdays, so i patronise those instead.

An integrated transport system for Gauteng

An integrated transport system for Gauteng came one step closer with the establishment of the Gauteng Transport Management Authority, and the announcement of a single ticketing system being developed for public transport in Gauteng.

city of johannesburg – One ticket system plan for Gauteng:

A SINGLE ticket system is being rolled out that will make using public transport across Gauteng a whole lot easier.

The system, similar to London’s Oyster Card – a form of electronic ticketing used on public transport services within the Greater London area – is being rolled out by the Gauteng Transport Management Authority (GTMA), a new transport management body.

‘The single ticketing system will see travellers being transported seamlessly and with much ease around the province,’ said Eezi Raboroko, the chief director of transportation management in the province, at the GTMA launch, on Thursday, 9 October.

This is something that has been long overdue, and I wonder about the timing of the announcement — just after the removal of Mbhazima Shilowa as Premier of Gauteng. It has been very much Shilowa’s baby, and he is one of those who pushed hardest for it.

The Times – Let’s stay off Resentment Road

Jonathan Jansen writes about visiting Durban recently and finding that many of the streets had been renamed, and questions the wisdom of renaming places to commemorate political party hacks.

The Times – Let’s stay off Resentment Road:

Imagine, for example, naming a street after Julius Malema, the youthful idiot who found a way of remaining in the news by threatening to “eliminate” or “crush” the enemies of his campaign to seat Jacob Zuma in the presidency.

As the Sarah Palin of South African politics, he is a dangerous demagogue rescued from obscurity and not sure what to do with his new-found power other than display his limited vocabulary with words like “kill”. Apartheid taught him well.

I have to admit a certain amount of sympathy. I too visited Durban recently, and had the problem of finding myself in Problem Mkhize Road, and wondering what Problem Mkhize had done for Durban. Though I have to admit that I didn’t really know what Mr Cowey (after whom the road was previously named) had done for Durban either.

One of the nice things about the 1990s was that after our first democratic elections a lot of places and buildings named after politicians got renamed with neutral names. The Marais Viljoen Building down the road from us was sensibly named Compensation House (it houses the offices of the Workmens Compensation Commissioner). The Hendrik Verwoerd Dam was renamed to something neutral. Jan Smuts Airport became the Johannesburg International Airport — that was a bit silly, because it isn’t in Johannesburg, it’s in Ekurhuleni. Now it’s the O.R. Tambo International Airport, so it doesn’t really matter where it is.

I liked the idea of removing the names of politicians (especially living ones) from the names of places, because naming things after politicians smacks of totalitarianism to me. In Moscow, Kalinin Propekt is now Arbat again, and Kaliningrad is back to being Tver.

One of the last acts of the last Nationalist city council of Pretoria was to rename Kilnerton Road to C.R. Swart Drive. Part of it has been re-re-named back to Kilnerton Road, but the rest remains with the name of C.R. Swart. That, it seemed to me, was a calculated insult to black people. The Kilnerton Institute was a well-known educational institution in eastern Pretoria, run by the Methodist Church. Many black South African leaders received their education there. In the 1960s it was closed down as part of the ethnic cleansing that took place to implement apartheid, and renaming the road seemed to be a deliberate attempt to remove even its memory. C.R. Swart, however, was Minister of Justice in the 1950s, and presided over the introduction of some of the most oppressive and racist legislation ever to disgrace our statute book. I would not be at all sorry to see his Drive go.

I’ve got nothing against O.R. Tambo or Pixley ka Seme, or Rick Turner or Alan Paton. They were certainly not repulsive like C.R. Swart and worked for freedom and justice rather than to oppress people. But I wonder how happy they would have been to have things named after them?

But the Nationalist City Council of Pretoria has gone too. Pretoria joined with twelve other local authorities to become part of the megacity of Tshwane, and Pretoria no longer has its own city council; it is only part of a bigger city. There is now only the council of the City of Tshwane. I’m quite happy about that. Nobody seems to quite know who Tshwane was, except that he is said to have once lived in the area. That’s a bit like Cowie’s Hill. Unlike Mr Cowey of Cowey Road, Mr Cowie lived on his hill.

The amalgamation of municipalities and local authorities seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. As Jasper fforde, the author of the books about Thurday Next, the literary detective, points out, the Cheshire Cat of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books is now the Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat. And “City of Tshwane” is much easier to say than “Unity Authority of Warrington” or “Nelson Mandela Metropole”.

Now suddenly we seem to be back to the 1950s, when the Nationalists were renaming everything after their party hacks. As Bob Dylan once sang, “Oh no, no no, I’ve been through this movie before.”

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