Johannesburg: One City Colliding Worlds

Johannesburg One City Colliding Worlds is comprised of five essays on the city of Johannesburg, first published in the Sunday Times newspaper in February and March 2002, as the first Bessie Head Fellowship articles. Each essay takes a particular theme. `Home' looks at the changing ways in which various people made the city their home during this time: the homeless and immigrant populations, the security enclaves, the burgeoning Tuscan landscape of the northern suburbs and the sprawling informal settlements that surround its periphery. Within this are answers to some interesting questions, such as `how at home/transient are Johannesburg's citizens'? 'Public space' is the second theme and examines the changes from `whites only' to loitering and insurrection to hawking and the subsequent laws to control this. Bremner's third theme, that of central Johannesburg, is fascinating and most relevant now, as once abandoned old buildings are reclaimed, renovated and reoccupied by those seeking a cosmopolitan big-city lifestyle such as found in cities like Boston and New York. Using the story of ABSA Bank's R400 million investment in locating its head office in Central Jo'burg as her point of departure, Bremner examines the goal of transforming Johannesburg into a `world class city', from all angles - some of which present some fascinating Jo'burg trivia. The fourth and fifth themes are pairs of opposites: identity and universality, enclosure and exclusion, inside and out, centre and edge, self and the other. Although she admits that, just eighteen months after these stories were written, the city had changed, Lindsay Bremner's book captures `that moment of spontaneity and a space that allowed people to experiment with the city and to make it work in new ways'. The book is written in English, French and German; a column for each language, one next to the other on each page.