Thursday, 22 August 2013

Newtown's awesome graffiti

Newtown, just west of Joburg's Central Business District (CBD) is marketed as the city's 'arts and culture precinct'. It's crammed with museums such as Museum Africa, the Worker's Museum, the SciBono science museum and the SAB World of Beer. It also has some of the city's most famous music and theatre venues such as the Bassline, the Dance Factory and the Market Theatre, while the area's long history is outlined in a sign-posted heritage trail.

Mary Fitzgerald Square with big business looming large in the background
Follow these wooden heads to find your way around the Heritage Trail
The SciBono Museum which sits just across the road from the SAB World of Beer
Museum Africa
By the end of this year Newtown will also have a massive mall called the Newtown Junction. They are busy building it now close to the site of some 'old potato sheds' (sounds pretty basic, but the sheds are apparently pretty historic) right next to the motorway fly-over. By the time it is finished it will be the biggest mall in downtown Joburg and Newtown's escape from post-industrial decline will be complete.

The Turbine Hall. Once a power station it is now a popular venue for weddings and events
Newtown's streets and squares honour the many famous Joburgers who made their mark on this area, particularly musicians. There is a Miriam Makeba street (named after the popular 1950s jazz star), and Gerard Sekoto, Gwigwi Mrwebi and Margaret mcinigana (also famous jazz musicians/singers) streetsThe central square is named after Mary Fitzgerald, an activist and trade unionist who led protests against poor conditions in the mines in the early 1900s. Many of the pavements have plaques on them dedicated to famous South African jazz musicians and outside the Bassline Club is a statue of the late pop star Brenda Fassie, best known for her smash hit record Weekend Special. Once dubbed 'the Madonna of the townships' she sadly died of a drug overdose in 2004.

Brenda Fassie

Taking a stroll through this more famous part of downtown Jozi, the thing which really strikes you the most though is the street art. The walls, gates, pillars and streets of Newtown are covered in bright murals and graffiti tags and around every corner there is something cool to look at. If you like graffiti, this is the place to come.

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