South Africa-A little bit of history

The Hollanders

Were traders that landed at the southern tip of South Africa in 1652 and established a stopover point on the spice route between the Netherlands and the East, founding the city of Cape Town.

Their main intention was to make fruit and vegetable gardens so the ships that stopped there could load up with fresh produce. In 1806, many of the Dutch settlers trekked north to found their own republics.

This was known as The Great Trek. The discovery of diamonds and gold in 1886 was the start of the gold rush. The British and the Afrikaners, as the Boers became known, ruled together under the Union of South Africa

GEOGRAPHY

• Location: Southern Africa, at the southern tip of the continent of Africa

• Geographic coordinates: 29 00 S, 24 00 E

• Area – comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Texas

• Climate: mostly semiarid, subtropical along east coast; sunny days, cool nights

• Natural resources: gold, coal, iron ore, diamonds, platinum, copper, natural gas

• Natural hazards: prolonged droughts

PEOPLE

• Ethnic groups: black African 79%, white 9.6%, colored 8.9%, Indian/Asian 2.5% (2001 census)

• Religions: Zion Christian 11.1%, Pentecostal/Charismatic 8.2%, Catholic 7.1%, Methodist 6.8%, Dutch Reformed 6.7%, Anglican 3.8%, Muslim 1.5%, other Christian 36%, other 2.3%, unspecified 1.4%, none 15.1% (2001 census)

• Languages: IsiZulu 23.8%, IsiXhosa 17.6%, Afrikaans 13.3%, Sepedi 9.4%, English 8.2%, Setswana 8.2%, Sesotho 7.9%, Xitsonga 4.4%, other 7.2% (2001 census)

ECONOMY

South Africa is a middle-income, emerging market with an abundant supply of natural resources; well-developed financial, legal, communications, energy, and transport sectors; a stock exchange that is 17th largest in the world; and modern infrastructure supporting an efficient distribution of goods to major urban centers throughout the region.

Growth has been robust since 2004, as South Africa has reaped the benefits of macroeconomic stability and a global commodities boom. However, unemployment remains high and outdated infrastructure has constrained growth.

At the end of 2007, South Africa began to experience an electricity crisis because state power supplier Eskom suffered supply problems with aged plants, necessitating “load-shedding” cuts to residents and businesses in the major cities.

Daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era – especially poverty, lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups, and a shortage of public transportation.

South African economic policy is fiscally conservative but pragmatic, focusing on controlling inflation, maintaining a budget surplus, and using state-owned enterprises to deliver basic services to low-income areas as a means to increase job growth and household income.

Cruising Craighall Park

Smack bang between Blairgowrie and Hyde Park is the highly sought-after and hip suburb of Craighall Park. While the road names are terribly posh and rather British ( Buckingham, Devonshire, Westminster and York) the suburb is anything but over the top. In fact, it’s rather warm and inviting and beautifully treed.

It abounds with big parks, quaint little coffee shops  and trendy homes found in all sizes– it’s basically what the up and coming yuppy class requires.

To have a major road like Jan Smuts Avenue running straight through the suburb is a great convenience too. And what a road it is for shopping – you can get anything from (designer) second-hand clothes to artwork, the absolute best selection of DVDs (Video Spot), treats (Woolies food store), fast food (Steers, McDonalds, Debonairs), car dealerships (Alfa Romeo, Lindsay Saker), Pilates classes (at the Valley Centre) or a quite drink at the (Bush Bar) even musical instruments (Music Connection). The list is endless.

“It’s a suburb of choice – it’s beautiful, family orientated (with great schools and churches) and close to the major malls like Sandton, Hyde Park and Rosebank and Parkhurst.”

One can look for bargains (miracles do happen) if you are in the market to purchase a house, apartment or flat and want to tackle your own renovations. “Most homes here are costly because they’ve already been extensively changed, added too and done up.”

Lightstone property research experts have recorded a massive influx of young home owners into the area. The young adult category (people aged 18-35) now own about 45% of all property in Craighall Park.

Big family homes, decent-size gardens, proximity to the Sandton CBD, and great schools in the area (Flemming Pre-Primary, Rutland Nursery, Craighall Primary, Our lady of Mercy Primary School, to name a few) are just some of the attractions for prospective buyers and decent sized family homes cost anything from R2.3m.

Next time you’re cruising along Jan Smuts and want to escape the Jozi rat race – there are two places to visit in Craighall Park – just take your pick. For delicious cappuccinos and a first-class meal, visit Corner Café at the intersection of Buckingham and Rothesay. If it’s good ale and pub grub you’re after, head to Giles on Grafton venue. It’s also a fine spot to watch your favorite sport with all the locals.

Visit the Cradle of Humankind a stones throw from Gauteng for a lesson in Evolution

Not far from the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg lies the Cradle of Humankind, Gauteng’s own World Heritage Site. The natural area of the beauty is what draws thousands of visitor’s wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg for the day or longer and it’s situated not 40 min away from Moonflower Cottages.

Maropeng

Maropeng, meaning ‘returning to the place of our origins’, is the official visitor centre for the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. Take the journey of discovery to understand the evolution of life and the origins of humankind.

The Cradle of Humankind was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999 because of the area’s exceptional contribution to our understanding of humankind’s history and development, over more than 3-million years. All together, there are 15 major fossil sites in the Cradle of Humankind, of which the Sterkfontein Caves is the most famous.

The fossils “Mrs Ples” and “Little Foot” were both discovered here, as well as thousands more fossils of hominids, which are human ancestors, as well those of plants and animals.

A team led by Professor Lee Berger, a renowned palaeoanthropologist from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (aka Wits University) have made a ground breaking discovery and have  described and named a new species of hominid, Australopithecus sediba, wich is dated at almost two million years old and which was discovered recently in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, 40 kilometres out of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Located, on 100 hectares, and within easy reach of Johannesburg, Maropeng overlooks the magnificent Magaliesberg and Witwatersberg mountain ranges and is en route to the popular resort of Sun City.

Sterkfontein Caves

An hour’s drive from Johannesburg are the Sterkfontein Caves, world famous for their fossil finds and a well-known visitor destination. After an extensive face-lift in 2005, the Sterkfontein Caves is now home to a top restaurant, conferencing facilities, improved access into the caves, new walkways and a boardwalk past the excavation site where world-acclaimed fossils have been discovered. The tours at the Sterkfontein Caves, which start above ground and then take visitors deep into the caves, run every half hour, seven days a week.

Brookewood Trout Farm

Brookwood Estate Trout Farm is situated in the natural beauty of Kromdraai, near Muldersdrift in the Heart of the Cradle of humankind world heritage site. This beautiful Estate and its warm hospitality is the ideal venue for family outings, camping and corporate team building activities.

 

Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve

The Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve is a privately owned, non-subsidised game reserve, covering approximately 1 600 ha on the typical Highveld of Gauteng. Situated in the Cradle of Humankind, it is about 40 km north-west of Johannesburg.

Hyde Park

If you whizz up Jan Smuts Avenue in Johannesburg too fast – that’s past Sandton and towards Rosebank – you’re bound to bag a whopping speeding fine (just after Dunkeld) and possibly miss the glorious suburb of Hyde Park altogether.

So slow down, wind down the windows and take a moment to stop and smell the roses. Ranked as one of top suburbs in the country, Hyde Park borders Craighall Park, Sandhurst and Illovo. These are exclusives addresses – Jozi’s very own version of Beverly Hills.

Wander around the area (if you have the patience for countless security booms) and you’re guaranteed to find yourself gawking at the places that some people call home. Sure there are flats on the outskirts of Hyde Park which are attractive to the young-up-and-comings, but the majority of property in Hyde Park is grandiose and has a price tag to match.

We’re talking enormous, old abodes where CEOs, MPs and other VIPs reside. These are mansions with balconies that double, indoor swimming pools, home gyms and sprawling lawns where soirées and canapés are the order of the day.

Flash freehold property in Hyde Park can set you back about R8m and then there are the super flash properties that go for anything in the region of R25m.

If it’s a lovely little flat you’re after, you’re looking at about R1,6m for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom spot. According to Deeds office data, the most expensive property sold in Hyde Park recently was R8,2m. The average price of property is anywhere between R7m and R55m.

According to property research experts Lightstone, the growth and activity in the area over the past few years has been impressive. Properties in sectional title schemes that went for R850K in 2004 were valued at around R1,6m in 2009. Freehold properties valued at R3,2m in 2004 were valued at R7,6m last year.

So what makes Hyde Park so sought-after? It’s beautiful for a start: lush green gardens, leafy streets, huge stands (many with great views of Johannesburg north) and a nice mix of classy old houses, trendy homes and apartments too.

Then there’s a great school, Hyde Park High, right in the centre of the suburb and one of Jozi’s most exclusive amenities on your doorstep: Hyde Park Shopping Centre.

This is retail therapy at its best with a pick of the top boutiques and specialty shops around. From international brands like Pringle, United Colors of Benetton and Morgan, to local treasures like Jenni Button and Hilton Weiner, there’s something for everyone.

Then, once you’ve done some damage on the credit card, you can go next door and enjoy a Cuban cigar on the deck of the new R190m Southern Sun hotel. It’s a great spot to bask in a splendid South African sunset.

Randburg

Randburg is a typical South African melting pot of cultural expressions, income brackets and opportunities.

Take a drive down Main Road to tap into the pulse of Randburg: the hustle and bustle of sidewalk hawkers, commuters making their way to taxi ranks, car dealerships selling everything from VW Beetles to 4×4’s to BMW X5s, mechanics and lots of interesting second-hand store worth stopping for.

Then there’s Randburg suburbia just a few kilometers up the road towards Bordeaux: families in old Johannesburg homes on leafy lanes.

“Randburg is down-right affordable. Amenities are fabulous and service delivery is good: even street lights that actually work.”

There are a host of good schools in the area.

Including Randburg Hoer Skool, Ferndale High, Aurora Private School and Knight Preparatory School and College.

On the shopping front, Northgate Centre is one of the best place to shop. There’s also Brightwater Commons (formerly known as Randburg Waterfront), Cresta and Randburg Square (where parking is ample and delightfully cheap and for your convenience a new multi-level parking arcade is being built at Cresta).

Nicholas Plants on Witkoppen Road offers great deals. “Plants are priced just right and the service is great.” The Randburg Management District or RBMD (http://www.randburg.org.za) also notes on its website that urban decay in the area has become an unfortunate reality. This group was established in 2004 to deal with these issues.

In the five years that it has been in existence, the RBMD has done a lot to give Randburg the face-lift it needs to be a top-drawer Johannesburg suburb. The Public Safety Ambassador project is one of these initiatives. Thanks to the RBMD, armed guards patrol Randburg night and day resulting in a significant decrease in the crime over the past three years says the SAP.

Linden is where it’s all at

Whether it’s a butcher, a baker or a fine Italian pizza that you’re after -. Linden lies nestled between Northcliff, Emmerentia, Craighall Park, Darrenwood and Victory Park. It’s one of the regions quaintest and oldest ’suburbs –  finding a delightful old home with a huge garden, pressed ceilings, wooden floors and big bay windows isn’t too difficult. While Linden has the charm of an old farming village – it’s fast becoming one of the trendiest places to live.

The property market has remained robust in Linden over the past five years and it’s uncommon to find anything in the area for less than a R1 million.

Even in this trying economic climate, there’s been plenty of activity in the property market in Linden.  The maximum transfer was R1, 8m. And in the last year, there were 71 transfers in total – of which the most expensive was for a R3, 7m home. The average age of recent buyers in Linden is an even mix of young adults (18-35) and middle age folk (50-64).

“It’s a great community to raise children in. There is a warm, family-orientated manner about the suburb and it’s wonderful to bump into your friends when you at the grocery store, the butcher or at one of the beautiful coffee shops in the area.

“There is a very efficient security block watch and residents receive weekly updates and crime reports. Government schools like Louw Geldenhuys and a private school like Kings in Robin Hills are good schools. One of the best perks about Linden is that it’s a very central suburb.

Great shopping centres like Cresta can be found just down the road. Then there’s the best pizza in town at Satori’s on 4th; amazing cappuccinos and awesome croissants at the Argentinean bakery on 7th; and who can resist the tea and cake at Paputzis?” Residents of Linden seldom venture beyond the suburb’s borders considering that they find everything they need within a 5km radius.

Linden boasts a famous butchery on 4th Avenue: Rembrandt’s Slaghuis. Pop in on a Saturday and you can grab a delicious borewors roll. Then there’s everybody’s favorite fresh fruit and veggie store – Impala’s. If it’s hip clothing, quirky home accessories or fun goodies you’re after, The Blue Room on 3rd Avenue is the place to shop. Art fundi’s will love Die Blou Hond – Linden’s own supper theatre and gallery. Then there’s the Library on the corner of 4th and 6th that offers a daily story-time for kids. Linden also even has its own public pool (also on 4th).

But possibly Linden’s best-kept secret is Flowertime on 3rd. Run by mother and daughter team Mandy and Pat, this exquisite store is a treasure trove full of gorgeous flowers, ornaments, specialty decor items and marvelous gifts for any occasion.

SA’s Favourite Bridal Event held annually in Gauteng

SA Brides Favourite Bridal Event held annually in Gauteng

The Wedding Expo is taking place at the Coca-Cola Dome in Northgate from the 10th to 11th April and again on the 10th to 11th September 2010. This extravagant expo is on a weekend so you don’t have to miss out on everything you require for that special day.

You may be engaged or you may have already set your wedding date, but now the challenge to make your special day memorable for yourself and your guests is on. The Wedding Expo saves you time and energy with invaluable ideas on themes, planning and all you need to know for the perfect wedding day. As South Africa’s premier bridal event, over 300 of the crème de la crème of South Africa’s wedding suppliers will be there. You can browse, gather inspiration and book all the suppliers you need for your wedding. Flowers, photography, cakes, venue, honeymoons, jewelers, transport, dresses, shoes and much, much more – everything any bride and groom could dream of!

What kind of Exhibitors can I expect to see at The Wedding Expo?

You can expect a comprehensive range of exhibitors at The Wedding Expo including:

  • Albums
  • Bridal Magazines & Directories
  • Cakes & Chocolate
  • Casual wear
  • Catering
  • Chocolate Fountains
  • Confetti
  • Day Spa
  • Décor Accessories & Candle Hire
  • Designers & Wedding Gowns
  • Event Specialist Planners
  • Finance Services
  • Flowers
  • Gift Registries
  • Gifts & Bonbonnieries
  • Hair & beauty
  • Health & Fitness
  • Hiring Companies
  • Invitations & Stationary
  • Jewelers
  • Legal
  • Limousines
  • Lingerie & Accessories
  • Menswear
  • Music & Entertainment
  • Photographers
  • Travel & Honeymoon
  • Venues
  • Videographers
  • Websites

There is also so much else going on at The Wedding Expo making it a worthwhile excursion. Indulge in Fashion Shows, Bridal Workshops, Competitions and so much more.

The Wedding Expo Details

Dates:
Sat 10th April– Sun 11th April 2010
Sat 10th September– Sun 11th September 2010

Times:
09h00 – 17h00 daily
Venue:
the Coca-Cola dome – Northgate
Entrance:
R80 per person (tickets available at the door)

Accommodation in Johannesburg

If you’re travelling to The Wedding Expo from afar then you’re going to need accommodation that’s close to the Coca-Cola Dome. Go straight to the website of a self catering garden cottages establishment that’s located in Victory Park– a peaceful safe and pretty suburb in central Northern Johannesburg.

Fifty facts about South Africa our remarkable nation

Compiled by South Africa The Good News www.sagoodnews.co.za |

Economy
1. The rand was the best performing currency against the US Dollar between 2002 and 2005 (Bloomberg Currency Scoreboard)

2. South Africa has 55,000 high net-wealth individuals holding at least US$1million in financial assets (World Wealth Report 2008)

3. South Africa has the 27th biggest economy in the world, with a Gross Domestic Product of US$254 billion (World Bank)

4. South Africa accounts for almost 25% of the GDP of the entire African continent, with an economy more than twice the size of the second biggest –Algeria. (World Bank)

5. Gauteng is South Africa’s smallest province but produces 34% of South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (Stats SA)

6. The JSE Securities Exchange is the 14th largest equities exchange in the world, with a total market capitalisation of some R2.3 trillion (JSE)

7. More than 12,000 ‘Black Diamond’ families (South Africa’s new black middle class) – or 50,000 people – are moving from the townships into the suburbs of South Africa’s metro areas every month (UCT Unilever Institute)

8. The black middle class grew by 30% in 2005, adding another 421,000 black adults to SA’s middle-income layer and ramping up the black population’s share of SA’s total middle class to almost a third. Between 2001 and 2004, there were 300,000 new black entrants to the middle class (Financial Mail)

Infrastructure
1. South Africa generates two-thirds of Africa’s electricity (Eskom)

2. South African power supplier provides the fourth cheapest electricity in the world

3. Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto is the biggest hospital in the world

4. Durban is the largest port in Africa and the ninth largest in the world.

5. There are 39 million cell phone users in South Africa (International Telecommunication Union)

Tourism
1. The number of tourists visiting South Africa has grown by 200% since 1994, from 3 million to over 9 million in 2007 (Dept of Environment and Tourism)

2. The Singita game reserve was voted the best hotel in the world by the readers of a leading travel magazine (Conde Nast Traveller)

3. The world’s best land-based whale-watching spot is located in Hermanus in the Western Cape.

4. In 2002, South Africa was the world’s fastest growing tourist destination. In 2006, South Africa’s tourism grew at three times the global average.
Sport
1. South Africa hosts the largest timed cycle race in the world (the Cape Argus Cycle Tour), the world’s oldest and largest ultra-marathon (the Comrades Marathon) and the world’s largest open water swimming event (the Midmar Mile).

2. South Africa will become the first African country to host the Soccer World Cup in 2010 … and only the second country in the world to have hosted the Cricket, Rugby and Soccer World Cups.

3. Since the 1940s, South African golfers have won more golf majors than any other nation, apart from the United States.

4. In 1994, we won 11 medals in the Commonwealth Games. In 2002, we won 46.
SA Teaching the World
1. South Africa houses one of the three largest telescopes in the world at Sutherland in the Karoo

2. South Africa is the first, and to date the only, country to build nuclear weapons and the voluntarily dismantle its entire nuclear weapons programme

3. South Africa Constitution is widely regarded as being one of the most progressive in the world, drawing from the experiences of the world’s most advanced democracies

4. The South African oil company Sasol has established the only commercially viable oil-from-coal operations in the world.

5. Two of the world’s most profoundly compassionate philosophies originated in South Africa – Ubuntu (the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity) and Gandhi’s notion of “passive resistance” (Satyagraha), which he developed while living in South Africa.

Education
1. Almost a quarter of South Africa’s non-interest budget is spent on
education

2. The University of South Africa UNISA is a pioneer of tertiary distance education and is the largest correspondence university in the world with 250,000 students.

3. Our learner to teacher ratio has improved from 1:50 in 1994 to 1:34 in 2004

4. South Africa’s matric pass rate has improved from 49% in 1994 to 70% in 2004, but student’s receiving university exemptions has remained at 18%

5. The first MBA programme outside of the United States was started by the University of Pretoria in 1949.

Social
1. Over thirteen million South Africans (a quarter of the population) have access to social grants (Department of Social Development)

2. Since 1994, 500 houses have been built each day for the poor and 1,000 houses per day have received electricity

3. Seventy percent of South Africa’s population is urbanised
© South Africa: The Good News

Environmental
1. The Kruger National Park supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent

2. The Cango Caves near Oudsthoorn is the world’s longest underground cave sequence

3. South Africa is the only country to house an entire floral kingdom (fynbos), one of only 6 on the planet

4. In 1991, South Africa became the first country in the world to protect the Great White shark.

5. South Africa has the oldest meteor scar in the world, at the Vredefort Dome near Parys. The scar is 2 billion years old.

6. South Africa has the 3rd highest level of biodiversity (SA Tourism)

7. The Cape Hyrax’s (dassie) closest relative is the African elephant

8. South Africa has embraced the concept of trans-frontier ‘peace parks’, linking ecological reserves across national borders
General
1. South Africa is the cradle of mankind

2. Afrikaans is the youngest official language in the world

3. The Western Deep Levels is the world’s deepest mine at 3777 metres

4. South Africa has the world’s largest deposits of gold, chromium, platinum and manganese

5. The only street in the world to house two Nobel Peace Prize winners is in Soweto. Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu both have houses in Vilakazi Street, Orlando West.

6. South Africa has the world’s second oldest air force, established 1920.

7. South African Breweries (SABMiller) ranks as the second largest brewing company in the world. It supplies up to 50% of China’s beer.

8. South Africa has the second oldest film industry in the world

9. In 2007 South African businessman Cyril Ramaphosa was included in the Time 100, an annual list, assembled by Time magazine, of the 100 most influential people in the world

10. Cape Town has the fifth-best blue sky in the world, according to the UK’s National Physical Laboratory

Things to do in Johannesburg

When you decide to stay a night or a few nights at Moonflower Cottages in Victory Park Johannesburg, you will be able to do and see many exciting things in Johannesburg.

Victory Park is a beautiful suburb that is really well established in that the streets are lined with old trees. This is no surprise considering that Johannesburg is the largest man-made forest in the world. Especially in autumn it is extremely beautiful. The streets are covered in a blanket of red and orange leaves.

There are many attractions in and around our neighborhood.

Around the corner you will find the Delta Park Bird Sanctuary. I have personally seen a few Barn Owls on a casual drive through the park. One can take a leisurely walk or ride a mountain bike around.

Cresta Shopping Centre was once the largest shopping centre in the southern hemisphere. With the rate of centres being built I cannot be 100 % sure anymore. However, there are hundreds of shops that are willing to help you shop till you drop. From clothing boutiques, supermarkets, electronics, curio’s and antique shops for those ‘special’ finds. For entertainment there is the ‘Barnyard Theatre’ a number of excellent cinema’s close by as well as parks, golf courses and lakes.  There are plenty of restaurants and take outs to suit every choice.

Northcliff hill can be seen from most places around Johannesburg. There is large water tower on top of it.

The Botanical Gardens is a great venue for a Sunday afternoon. In winter time they are proud to have the Black Vulture looking after her eggs. On a clear day and a good pair of binoculars one will be able to the nest on the top of a cliff edge of the mountain. They have a tea garden there and on public holidays they have live music.

Zoo Lake is a popular place to take the kids and pets for a stroll around the lake and perhaps even hire a rowboat for an hour or two. There is an abundance of bird life around the lake too and don’t forget to take some old bread to feed the ducks.