I had some business to attend to in Pretoria West on Monday, 4 June 2012. It was a lovely sunny winter’s afternoon, so when I had finished accomplishing the tasks I came for I decided to take a drive down ol’ Church Street while its name was still being displayed on signs, even though it was crossed out with red stripes and replaced with the name of “WF Nkomo”.
Church Street, the main street of South Africa’s capital city, was once recognized as one of the longest straight urban streets in the world. At a distance of 26 km end to end it was also considered as the longest straight urban street in South Africa. I suppose this unique characteristic is no longer applicable now that the street has been divided up into four different names. (See the list of name changes in a previous posting.)
The video embedded below shows a compilation of street-scenes on route to Church Square, while approaching from the western end, and covers a few scenes starting from c/o Church Street and DF Malan Drive (now renamed E'skia Mphahlele Drive). It also shows some close-up footage of, among other places, exterior views of the old house (museum) of Paul Kruger, which I presumed was under renovation as the front entrance was locked. The last part of the video shows some footage of Church Square and the multicultural one-coloured African crowds gathered there. (The second video below includes the same clip of Church Square but shows some additional footage.)
(I’ve just discovered, while drafting this post, that the Paul Kruger Museum is indeed under renovation. Not one single government or tourist-related site has provided this information. I discovered the news by chance after stumbling upon an interesting blog called: paulkrugermuseum.blogspot.com, which undertook to offer a week-by-week account of the renovation process. According to the oldest post, the first week of renovations (site establishment) started on the 16th of February 2012. The forecast at that time was that the renovations were going to take approximately 10 weeks to complete, with an undertaking that the blog will be updated on a weekly basis. However, the last update, which described the activities of weeks 4 and 5, is dated 15 April 2012. I have no idea why the renovations have been delayed, as no reasons are given on the blog.)
The next video shows additional footage of Church Square and its familiar background surroundings.
While strolling around the place, acting as if I were a typical tourist – with my camera strapped securely to my wrist (the only white-skinned wrist in the entire place), I couldn’t help but wonder why so many people were relaxing on the Square, on a working Monday, after 14:00 - long past the customary lunch hour. I decided the only way to find out was to actually ask some of them.
I wasn’t too surprised to discover that the crowds were comprised of an assortment of Africans from all over Africa. There were Zimbabweans, Nigerians, Tanzanians, Namibians, and even one chap from Serowe, Botswana, who blew my cover the moment I opened my mouth to speak, as he somehow instinctively knew I was a local and not a tourist. He then proceeded to chat with me, in perfect Afrikaans, as if I were his long lost brother. I eventually excused myself from his company when the man started showing extraordinary interest in the Sony Cyber-Shot that was strapped to my wrist.
Although there were one or two ‘tourist families’ from Africa who seemed genuinely interested in taking a pic of Paul Kruger’s statue, the vast majority were mainly looking for work in the CBD. Obviously there was no way of telling for sure how many of these people were part of the 10 million-odd illegal immigrants that have flooded the country since 1994, and particularly since May 2009 when madam Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula decided to open the gates to the land of milk and honey.
And while we’re on the subject of milk and honey, here’s a pic of a very old postcard depicting Church Square (c.1904). The postcard reads, "The land of honey".
|Sourced from: dakotaboo-vintage-postcards.blogspot.com|
Here’s another old pic of the Square:
|Church Square, Pretoria 1965-1966|
President Kruger statue and the Palace of Justice.
Sourced from: www.flickr.com