The heatwave that Johannesburg is currently experiencing has made walking through the city a tiring journey.
Wanting to get some information on Johannesburg Sinikiwe, Valerie and I went to Museum Africa in the hope that there would be an exhibition that could help. I visited Museum Africa a few months but did not have enough time to see everything so I was excited to explore the exhibits I had missed.
I was most excited about the photography section as it has an extensive collection of antique cameras and photographs.
I found a number of extra wings and hidden nooks including an entire section dedicated to the history of Johannesburg. The city in the 1890s (it was only officially four years old) was not a fun place to live. In three years there was the first snow, a plague of locusts and an earth tremor. Reports say the swarm of locusts “barnacled” buildings and covered the floors. A picture shows a little girl in a white dress who can barely be seen through the flurry of blurred locusts flying around her (it’s pretty gross, I would not stand around for that photo).
Sinikiwe stayed behind for an interview and a look at the museum’s archives. Valerie and I made our way to Oriental Plaza so she could speak to fashion designers. We found a designer in a store outside the plaza after a material shop owner told us “There are only Pakistanis here [in Oriental Plaza] and they don’t know anything about designing”.
With water bottle in hand and every exposed piece of skin thickly lathered in sunblock we set out to get some more information on the relief organisations in the area.
Going back to SANZAF, I met with Usama Beng who heads up the Welfare department. Sitting in one of the small offices, this one with a grassy green wall which matched Usama’s green traditional attire.
He explained how they distribute the funds brought in by Zakah to individuals who apply to the organisation. He said there is a lot of fraud and so they are very careful when giving out money, doing background checks to ensure the funds are given to those who really need it.
SANZAF has also moved away from giving food parcels and vouchers as they feel the need to encourage development and education rather than contributing to the reliance on welfare and hand-outs, a culture that has develops in many part of Johannesburg.
Due to time constraints and an increasing pile of files to work through I was asked to return the next day.