Sandton is known as the Richest Mile in Africa. High rises house international bank after international bank headquarters as well as many other major companies’ offices. Money flows upwards in JHB because Sandton sits on its hill lording over us all. The CBD also houses important business and still flourishes but it’s very traditional and vintage while Sandton is where the bling is at.
Sandton is snooty but I quite like it because it speak of progress and success. The buildings tower and the cars are flashy and while you’re surrounded by this you feel pretty good about things. This is how I felt on Saturday while returning from Brunch, but then I saw something in the traffic which made me smile more than any bling ever could and gave me more hope than the millions of Rands which I know flow through Sandton every day.
Across from me at the intersection, was a troupe (?) of young gumboot dancers giving it their all to several lanes of cars waiting at the red traffic light. It was hot and the exhaust fumes were smelly but these young guys were dancing and stomping and clapping like they were performing at the State Theatre in Pretoria. Front and centre of their audience was a red Ferrari and which gave the whole scene a surreal and magical tone.
Gumboot dancers represent the miners, the backbone of our economy. The hard workers, the guys who know what it means to sweat to bring home the bacon. And here these guys were, sweating in the sun, across from a Ferrari to bring home small change for themselves because surely all this effort and enthusiam would make a few cars open their windows and drop a few silver coins into grateful hands. It was a great scene as two worlds were represented in a 8 meter stretch of road.
The best thing about it. Everyone seemed happy to be taking part. The gumboot guys were whisteling and singing and salluted at the end of the performance. As they scattered amoungst the cars the windows did open and they got money from a grateful unsuspecting audience. If they had been on my corner I would have given them everthing I had in my purse as I truely appreciate street performers. People who are willing to perform rather than beg and brighten my day while doing so.
Most tourists don’t like Sandton because it’s so commercial but if you are there keep some change handy beause you’re bound to see Africa at it’s personality best amoungst the sky scarpers .