Ferreirasdorp

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I took this picture early one June morning, on the corner of Diagonal & Helen Joseph Streets
Just after 7am, it was still quiet, but I knew very soon the streets of Ferreirasdorp will come alive.

When I gaze at it, I can hear the beautiful orchestra of city sounds and smell strange fragrances, drifting into the crisp winter’s air, from each of the little shops in Diagonal street – where I am sure you can literally buy anything.  The ladies behind the counters proudly tell you that their little piece of Johannesburg runs in the family. From each generation a child is chosen to continue the legacy of their ancestors.

I see the Mama’s preparing their vetkoek and corn on the corners, I hear the man selling fruits from his cart,  promoting his products while trying to make a deal. I can feel the tiny rush of wind when locals walk past me, forever in a hurry to get somewhere. Long after you crossed Market Street, to make your up Short street, you can still hear a robot like voice behind you: “Socks, five rand. Socks, five rand”. Yes, this is the one of the most economical areas to shop in town.

This is one of the few remaining places where shopkeepers still live above their shop, it has been this way for over a century and it will probably be this way for another century.
When the elderly folks come down from their flats for their daily shopping, they are always ready to tell you tales of days gone by, invite you up from a proper cup of tea, or if you are lucky, a curry lunch. They don’t have much to give, but they don’t mind sharing.

I like to stand on this corner and drink it all in: The sights, the smells, the noises, the rush of people passing, the multitude of languages being spoken.
This re-affirms what I have known for a long time: This is real: Stripped of luxury and pretense. The buildings are lived- in, the side-walks a bit rough, the drivers- a little insane but on this street, one of the most historic in all of Joziburg, every stranger is just a friend you don’t know.

Is Fereirasdorp perfect?
No.
But it is beautiful.