People who live in Johannesburg always have this need to rush for something. Some say that is wrong but to me it is a clear sign that they are alive and are always working towards achieving something. Johannesburg is a city that seems to represent ultimate freedom in South Africa. It is the people of this city that were highly publicised during the fight against apartheid. Many in the 1800s and 1900s left their homes in various parts of Africa to work in the goldmines of Johannesburg so they could have financial freedom and feed their families.
In 2011 there is a bridge that represents freedom for me. This is the bridge that links Braamfontein and the edge of Newtown just before the extremely busy Bree Taxi Rank. The Nelson Mandela Bridge is relatively new to the Johannesburg city centre, but because I am not originally from Johannesburg – I cannot imagine Africa’s financial hub without it. I remember walking on the Nelson Mandela Bride for the first time a few years ago. I was walking from the University of the Witwatersrand to catch a taxi in the Bree Taxi Rank. I was looking around to check if anybody could see me walking on this bridge which represent freedom for me. All the students from Wits couldn’t care less as they were going on about their business and when I reached the other side I looked back and smiled. It sounds cheesy, but to me it is the true representation of twenty first century in the new South Africa.
Recently I heard of a highly publicised fashion show that was held on the bridge. The designer said the show was to honour former president, Nelson Mandela. I can’t think of a better place to honour the man who has given up so much of his life for the freedom of the people of his land.
These days I think less of what the bridge represents when I drive across it, but I often have to keep on reminding myself that such structures are there to show us the possibilities of the future and to stop us from returning to the past that was filled with hatred. Johannesburg is changing and I am enjoying the progress.