Dr Wilfred Isak April
Before we explore the ‘City of Gold’ I would like to share a quote with you this week that I borrowed from Robin Sharma: “Rather than only looking for people doing things wrong so I can correct them, I must get aggressive about finding people who are doing things right.
“Then, when I do, I should recognize and reward their efforts, with something tailored to their interest. In return I will also get better at the simple act of praising”!!! Very powerful and true isn’t it?
Johannesburg, also known as Jozi, Jo’burg or eGoli is one of the largest cities in South Africa. Jozi is the provincial capital of the Gauteng region, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa.
If we go back to the archives and look into the history of Jo’burg it is evident that the region was originally inhabited by the San tribes. The Fokus programme on SABC2 on 10 June 2012 indicated that the indigenous people, namely the Khoi-San and Nama, want the government to recognize them as the first people of the country.
By the 13th century (the same century during which the verb enterprendre – to take one hand and do something, came into use), a group of Bantu speaking people started moving southwards from central Africa and encroached on the indigenous San population.
By the 18th century the broader region was occupied by Sotho-Tswana communities, who practised farming, raising cattle, sheep and goats, and extensively mined and smelted copper iron and tin.
Johannesburg is one of the world’s leading financial centres and the financial hub of South Africa. Besides the formal economy, the informal economy is very significant and constitutes traders and cash streets vendors.
The informal economy plays a significant role in the livelihoods of the underprivileged people. The informal sector is probably the largest in the world, second to Beijing, China.
A number of readers will agree with me your first trip to Jozi was probably scary, but once you get to the ‘City of Gold’ you realize that it is an interesting learning opportunity. Downtown the city of Jo’burg buzzes with entrepreneurs and opportunities waiting to be explored.
You can either use your own vehicle or take the traditional South African minibus taxis, for only 10 Rand. When stopping a minibus taxi it is important to know where you are going, because you have to signal with your fingers by either one, two, three, etc. If you would like to go downtown, you indicate five. Within half an hour, you will be in town.
As you are in the taxi, each passenger passes his/her 10 Rand to the passenger in the front seat. In most instances the driver collects all his cash. I am still waiting to see that day, that one person cheats by not paying!!! It is Jozi after all and I am certain it is not going to be a pleasant experience.
It is critical to address everyone, be it on the street, in shops or taxis as ‘Boetie or Sissie’ and the conversation always continues with O’Grand!!!
Downtown is filled with traders selling memory sticks, traditional beers, clothing, electric appliances and many more. An interesting behaviour to note is; the prices can fluctuate any minute.
An item which was initially 500 Rand can come down to 50 Rand. These entrepreneurs raise cash to survive another day.
As a customer you have to be careful, as the seller can also be a robber.
Jo’burg downtown constitutes diverse cultural groups and also a very diverse group of immigrants doing business. When one intends to unleash your own entrepreneurial spirit in Jozi, the downtown is the place to be.
It is also interesting to note at this point that the largest shopping Centre is Sandton City, while Hyde Park is one of the most prestigious. A plan to build another large shopping mall in Midrand, which divides Johannesburg and Pretoria, is underway.
This shopping mall intends catering for a diverse mix of people and races and will be known as ‘Zonk Izizwe’ (Zulu term) which means all nations.
I strongly encourage you to visit Jozi at some point in your life. Before I sign off, let me wish all the students at Namibian tertiary institutions only the best in their examinations.
Believe me or not, understanding cultural differences in our country is already difficult. Addressing them effectively is the most difficult. Please join as we travel to China and learn more about the Chinese way of doing business. Take good care Namibia, and keep warm.