When I landed in Brazil’s there was only one thing I feared: boredom. … Keep Reading
I was born in Zanzibar, and two years later my family and I moved to Egypt, where I spent most of my early childhood. So I wasn’t in tune with my upbringing, my homeland, my culture, or even my language.
After a couple of years my family decided to take me to Zanzibar on one of my school holidays.
It was then, in the mid 90s, when I had my first experience with
Confusion At First Sight
Anybody who has visited Zanzibar has probably been to Forodhani Park . Not many people, however, have seen it before the 2009 renovation by Aga Khan. It didn’t always look so clean and polished, it didn’t always have a kid’s playground, benches, security and fines for littering.
No, back when I first visited Forodhani, it was simply a get-together by the sea where people gathered with their families, friends, or dates, and basked in the ocean breeze as they sipped on sugar cane juice and enjoyed juicy fish kebabs.
I knew very little of Zanzibar when I first arrived.
I wasn’t an observant kid, so all I did was eat. As I got older, however, my visits to Forodhani got more, well, felt more intuitive.
The daylight was serene. A strange, sort of, “peace in activity”. There is not much noise, but there’s a lot going on if you pay attention. A short walk away from Forodhani is the harbour, where you get a nice view of the boats, dhow tours, and fishermen catching the varieties of fish that will be cooked and served from the evening.
Johannesburg – Central Business District (JHB-CBD) has been cursed with a bad reputation since the dawn of South Africa’s democracy, in 1994. Then, the Gold capital and a hub of African migration as well as rich Afro-centric imagination; Today, one of the world’s most dangerous cities to live and work in Africa. And of course, one wonders, what kind of human beings live there?
Reclaiming An Unequal Space
During the years of Apartheid, Johannesburg catered for the ambitions and dreams of those who came from all over the world for business. Its bustling streets smelt like perfumes, with sophisticated hotels and restaurants that awakened one’s hunger for sexual transactions in Fox and Marshall Street.
Today, you get a sense of an abandoned prosperity – as the city is not flourishing like it used to. We forget that these past flourishing moments came at the exclusion of Africans. Today, when Africans have taken ownership of the city — it is called ‘dangerous’ and ‘ dirty’ . The exclusion of Africans from the urban composition of the city in the past has lead to present perceptions and generalizations of ‘danger’ in the city;
Does living in a space that was engineered for the ascension of Apartheid imply that one must conform to the ways of this space? There has been an increasing negative narrative – lambasting the reputation of the JHB-CBD – because it is not what it used to be.
Poverty is visible in every corner of the city: you find Amandla Muti Shop trading a street from Anglo American , or people begging their lives into mere existence, yet ignored.
It is irrefutable that in JHB-CBD, as an unequal space, there exists insecurities. We, as humans, reduce the value of a space as soon as it causes us discomfort. We easily disregard that other human beings are capable of regeneration. The previously excluded now have the opportunity to redefine their space and institute their ways of living in a manner that is inclusive and re-conciliatory.