It’s a destination that many know as being violent and dangerous. The “rape capital” of the world, and once ranked second on a scale for assault and murders and first for rapes per capita when compared with another 60 of the most dangerous countries. I’m not sure that a catch phrase like ” a child goes missing every 5 hours” would be the greatest thing for a tourist brochure. But put aside the bad publicity and exaggerated stories of South Africa and what you’ll find is an absolutely beautiful country with welcoming and friendly locals. At least that’s my experience and I just happened to be in Johannesburg the city predominantly responsible for most it. It reminds me of the endless concerned comments I received when I traveled at a young age to Colombia on my own. Everyone seemed to have but one goal in mind and that was to change my mind.
But thankfully this little stubborn butterfly doesn’t convince so easily. I set out to prove them wrong and time after time I succeed. If I listened to every concerned soul, if i stopped traveling to all the countries that have some sort of political unrest, petty theft, fraud, murders, hijacking, terror attacks, terror threats, discrimination or assaults, well then i may as well take off my boots, hang up my hat, and sit my little behind right here in…… oh wait – there’d be no where left.
So on I went to Johannesburg to discover the beauties of this city that too many have given up on. A city with it’s shares of problems, I can be optimistic but not completely oblivious here… But a city that I believe shouldn’t be fully judged on the stupidity or desperation of a few. Johannesburg is a city that has not one but 2 Nobel Peace Prize recipients. It’s a city that is full of culture, history, arts, theater and creativity. A city that has taken a township like Soweto and it’s history as an example of why we need change. They boldly walk tourist through to make them aware and to educate. It’s where strong people gather, where people are upfront and determined to make a difference.
I stepped out on the streets to be completely surrounded by this colorful, strong and bold graffiti art. A young songstress walked up to me unannounced to serenade me in a high key chant which left me………. well quite speechless to say the least. I drank fine wines, ate flavorful treats and chilled with the local artists. It’s unbelievable what you can see with the right attitude and just an open mind.
I wandered out of the “safe” area, I walked and walked and walked. I smiled at those who smiled at me and payed no attention to those trying to intimidate me, but in no different manner then I would anywhere else really. I contemplated taking a flight to Cape Town, but decided that quality time was better than the quantity of my destinations, so Cape Town will be on hold until my next visit.
“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great, you can be that generation! Let your greatness blossom.” – Nelson Mandela