Jax gets ready to rumble

3 Oct

“Death of Johannesburg” gets my knickers in a twist…



Horror Cafe, Newtown, Joburg 2006













Now. This is a new blog, and I have very little traffic. I started it a few weeks ago and its contents are mostly experimental. Despite its apparent shortcomings, I like to think that my passion for Johannesburg and its quirks, my curiosity about its good and bad points, and my love of living, working, and studying in and around the city shine through.

In doing research on other blogs in Johannesburg, I came across a site called “The Death of Johannesburg” – a site that decries the destruction and downfall of Johannesburg in the “new South Africa” (read “the South Africa that will never be as good as the old one”, whine, sob etc.). It seems to get a lot of traffic, judging from the comments, and has been around for just over a year.

The author uses series of photographs to illustrate his point – that Jo’burg is a shit hole and anyone living in or around it is subjecting themselves to a life of horror, desperation, misery and possible (perhaps inevitable?) death. He comes across as intelligent, a good writer, a reasonable photographer and a person with a lot of time on his hands (hence the quality – and I use that word lightly here – of his blog) in comparison to mine.

To the author (if he ever reads this):

This blog is enough to make any journalist cry – or laugh (if you’ve become cynical enough). I’m all for freedom of speech – if you hate Johannesburg, go ahead, say it! In fact, why don’t you scream your hate of the city from the top of lungs while catching a taxi at Newtown taxi rank? C’mon, i dare you.

Blogs are great platforms for people to express their views – I myself benefit from it. But what makes the journalist in me cringe and become slightly ill from reading your, is the sheer misrepresentation. “Jo’burg, the hell hole” – your vilification of the city is all too apparent, as is your complete unwillingness to see anything positive about the city.

Where’s Newtown? And the Oriental Plaza? Has the Johannesburg Art Gallery completely disappeared from the map? Melville and Auckland Park? (Jozi is not just its CBD, darling) The student playground streets of Braamfontein? Nelson Mandela Bridge, the pumping nightclubs Carfax, the Horror Cafe and Fuel? Market Theatre and Moyo’s, Arts Alive and Jazz Festivals, poetry sessions in old school bars? Where are the countless NGO’s, the art initiatives, the workshops, the clean ups?

Or are these questions rhetorical?

This city is alive and you are killing it with your inability to see beyond pictures and the fact that things change – cities change, and you can either whine about it, or do something about it (other then try to destroy it in the minds of others, of course).

You have created a picture of our city that is steeped in hate and I feel sad for the fact that you still live here (if you do that is). Surely a blog that is more balanced, that has more depth and contains the stories of people as well as pictures – a blog that has both good and bad stories about Jo’burg – would make you happier then spending your hours writing about how goddamn awful the place is.

My point is simple. You have some very important points about what is wrong with the city. Yes, parts of it is run down. Crime abounds in certain areas, and some of our most precious buildings have been destroyed over the years. People litter, beg, and are sometimes ignorant and annoying. Wow, welcome to any city in the world. But if you just took a moment to see, and recognise, the stories behind those pictures you take. The monumental changes this city has had to endure, the history and the struggles… Behind every door and wall you photograph there are stories of people who have gone through hell and emerged. Some good, some bad. Some who will make you hate humanity, some who will make you believe there is a God and that people are good.

This contradiction challenges me every day and forces me to explore new ways of understanding the city. This is the nature of 21st century life.

No city is perfect, but no city is pure evil either. What happened to you to feel this way? It’s sad and so unrealistic. You are hateful and biased in your commentary, you frame your photographs to show the worst, and you have the clearest agenda I’ve ever seen in a person. To show a side of Jo’burg that is so horrid in its one sidedness that people will never want to visit. I feel compelled to ask – why?

In my community work in the city I have met people who are beaten, disparaged, heart sore and hopeless. I have met people who endure, make strides in their lives that seem impossible, create families and communities for strangers and show kindness that is beyond belief. I have partied in this city, and driven its streets, talked to its shop owners and taxi drivers, interviewed its care workers and orphaned children and had discussions with its students and employees.

Your blog takes away the dignity of all those people by rendering them invisible.

I am now asking you to help me understand.


3 Responses to “Jax gets ready to rumble”

  1. Grant October 4, 2007 at 8:20 am #


    I continue to enjoy your posts, and this latest ticks all the boxes for a good ol’ fashioned ‘flame war’. The blog you’ve mentioned is a blatant attention (read: traffic) seeker. He/she has even gone to the extent of registering individual blog names for individual posts- LOL. Fortunately the blog has not been updated in over a year so it obviously wasn’t that successful.

    Keep it up.

  2. jaxbischof October 4, 2007 at 9:07 am #

    I’m not usually argumentative but this guy has me really riled up…
    I’m glad it hasn’t been updated, but I still have issue with its popularity. Nevermind the amount of comments (have you read them? There are some crazy people out there), but if you type “Johannesburg Blog” into a Google Search, his blog comes up second. Tourists looking for info / opinions on Joburg are going to be directed to his site first, which is a bit scary.

  3. rick October 4, 2007 at 12:07 pm #

    it’s nice you have a blog. stay cool

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