Indian traders in Diagonal Street in the inner city of Johannesburg have been given eviction notices as the area is being upgraded for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The shop owners are pissed off because they have been renting their shops for generation after generation, also they feel that they braved the crime and grime of the inner city and stood by it while everyone else ran away, and now they're just being told to pack up and go.
I thinks it's absolutely disgusting to treat people like this - greedy building owners wanting to cash in on soccer money and make way for branded franchises. Those buildings have character, quaint old Indian shops, there are muti shops there - what a great tourist attraction. Now they want to knock the buildings down and make way for some bland architecture that makes Joburg look like any other city in the world.
Why can't they just upgrade the buildings and let the traders stay?
This is "The Museum of Man and Science", one of the many muti shops in Diagonal Street. The Joburg City website has a wonderful description:
"The 66-year-old museum (why it was originally called a museum seems lost in time) is a traditional muti or medicine shop in Diagonal Street. Walking in to the darkish interior you'll probably bump your head on the ceiling displays: hundreds of bits of dried skins, horns still attached to skins, bits of bones, ox hooves and tails, ostrich heads and feet, strings of beads, seed anklets, and straw hats.
Once you've had your fill of the ceiling display, you'll become aware of a pillar piled with horns and several dried carcasses of monkeys, another one with black and white tyre sandals. Then you'll notice the counters. One is filled with painted clay pots (used by traditional healers for storing the mixtures), interspersed with metal candelabras. The front of the counter is decorated with walking sticks and metal "church sticks" (used by priests of Zion veld churches); drums decorate the front of another."
This picture, and the one below, I took some time ago of Diagonal Street. The blue glass building is where the old Stock Exchange used to be. It was taken late in the afternoon so the shops are all closed. As you can see the shop buildings are pretty run down, but they have so much character. I just love them.
This picture is of a residential apartment building. To me it's beautiful and full of character and history. It what makes Johannesburg Jozi and Joburg and gives us a sense of who we are and where we come from. What would tourists enjoy more - muti shop or McDonalds? Quaint historical buildings or bland modern architecture? I know which I prefer. If we lose all of this, we lose something of ourselves.