Liz Belmont from Liz at Lancaster Guesthouse
Liz Belmont joined Flying Cows of Jozi at the #SingTheCity fundraising walk for Gauteng Opera on 29 September 2018. She wrote two blogposts about this experience which you can find here: #SingTheCity: Students Helping Students and here: What brings people back to decaying inner cities?
She writes: “Passionate, visionary, generous and inspiring are all words that come to mind when describing Josine Overdevest. (….) Josine’s passion for Jozi and the inner city (she lives around the corner from 1 Fox Precinct), is very evident when she takes occasional tours of the inner city. And Saturday 29th September her walk was a fund-raiser for much needed funds to enable Gauteng Opera students to continue their studies. Accompanying Josine (to help manage the errant and straying sheep in the group!), were the student interns working for Flying Cows of Jozi. Both Flying Cows of Jozi and Gauteng Opera are based in Marshall town, and both organisations provide young people with education and personal development. With the walk the Flying Cows of Jozi students helped raised funds for the opera students to continue their studies with the Gauteng Opera Academy. Students helping students. ”
Offspring Media, the winning group of University of Johannesburg #UJStratcomm students
“As students we thought we knew the Johannesburg CBD however the walk with Josine opened our eyes up to the contrasts within the city. Before the walk we knew only one side of the story but were opened up to a whole other world. We only thought about the negative things one experiences while walking through the streets of Jozi, such as discomfort and fear but the walk made us all feel at ease. This I find to be the best part of the walk. At no point did I worry about our safety, we were simply in awe of what the city had to offer.
It’s amazing because we immediately felt like tourists in what seemed like a city that we had never seen or known of before. We were humbled by how much we could learn simply by walking through the streets that we thought we knew well but held so much history of the country we call home. We saw beautiful parts of architecture and wonderful city dynamics that show traditional and urban life coexisting in one setting. This experience created a sense of pride and the urge to not only spend more time in the city but find employment within it.”
Nelia Prinsloo, Key Account Manager, Via Afrika
“This was a real eye-opener for me! Being a South African, who stayed in South Africa all my life, and most of my life in Gauteng, I am ashamed to confess that I haven’t been to the city centre of Johannesburg for 36 years. I have deliberately avoided the city centre, because I thought it is unsafe and definitely not a pleasant place to be. I was so wrong!
The architecture is beautiful and they are still renovating and cleaning up buildings which makes me excited and looking forward to see the outcome. Thank you so much for introducing me to a part of my history which I neglected. I cannot wait to take my husband and friends there, so that they can understand why I am so excited!”
Les Nkosi, Director LNH Rehumanising, social entrepreneur, hugger, Jozi native
“An ecosystem of contrasts
My walk across Jozi presented a glaring juxtaposition of good and evil coexisting harmoniously in an uncanny way in the city. The streets (Diagonal Street) transform from vibrant markets during the day and become common sleeping bunks for the homeless in the night.
The city still manages to show its kindness as a muslim shop owner offers my walking company and I a free cool drink to quench the thirst presented by the walk in the summer heat, all the while a beggar down the street reminds me of my privilege as he stares into my eyes pleading for a coin to buy bread, or glue.
Standing in front of the building that housed the law office of Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo during the 1950s, you can see the towering building that represented the hope of the oppressors and the death of the oppressed, 13 floor South African Police building aptly named John Vorster Square, where many political prisoners were said to have plunged to their deaths from top floors during interrogations and said to have “committed suicide”.
Although my reflections now are focused only on some of the architecture and the human realities of its history, my walk offered me much more than just this… Vast. Jozi has to be one of the few cities in the whole world that is able to create a safe space for polar opposite realities to coexist without explosive conflict.
An ecosystem of contrasts as it were. Hope and despair live side by side in Jozi. In my walk, I was presented with a kaleidoscope of sparkling opaqueness that has me fall in love with its joy and its pain; its sunshine and its rain; its rich and its poor; its black and its white.”
Alan Tait, Executive Head Learning on Demand at The Training Room Online
“The Flying Cows CEO walk through a portion of the Jhb CBD was an eye opener for me. Yes, our CBD is just like any other CBD in the world, but it’s our CBD!
The walk was informative, visually pleasing, safe and most importantly I have found other venues to visit for food, reading, drinks and architecture. Josine was a great guide, keeping the walk light-hearted and informative.
I would recommend the Flying Cows CEO walk as an opportunity to take time out of your diary to reconnect with the city, its people and to appreciate what we have.”
Mthobeli Tengimfene, Executive Head: Education Products & Services Vodacom
“The city tour of Flying Cows was a marvel. lt exposed the aspects of Jozi that we get to overlook in our haste to conduct business there quickly.
It brought me the aesthetics and deep heritage of Joburg. I also got captured by the entrepreneurial spirit of Joburg, especially the roaring book trade. It planted a seed for a similar book reselling business in other parts of the metro.”
Emma Bekker, Transformation Facilitator & Writer
“A walk through the inner city of Jozi with Josine is like opening a brown paper bag and realizing that it is a lucky packet.
Walking is the great equalizer. Our feet affirm our humanity.
Josine has a deep empathy wrapped in casualness that unlocks the heart wrenching and life affirming realities of inner city life. As a resident of the area, she has immersed herself in the landscape and the community. She takes you on a brief sojourn of sole searching and mind boggle which ignite conversations about our place in this city as well as our connection to the whole of humanity.
The Flying Cow, as Josine sees herself, gives you the best perspective on a vibrant urban sprawl and perhaps even a glimpse into our own inner jungle.”
Chris Primos, branding and advertising executive currently on rediscovery sabbatical
” I have enjoyed the Flying Cows Walk as a returning local, re-walking the streets I remember as a bustling Central Business District. It is exhilarating to retrace the steps inside memories, but equally eerie when the physical representation of those memories is no longer really there.
It is only months later that one begins to review and question the remodeling and re-habitation of urban spaces as politics, economics and sociology migrate and reconfigure. What should be preserved, why and for whom? Equally, what should be disposed of, why and for whom? When businesses go through an inevitable restructuring (always circumstantially, hardly ever voluntarily) what can, and should be, retained in legacy and how should a revamped image and brand project?
Times change, sometimes dramatically, usually imperceptibly. A little revisiting helps to remind us of this constant.”