Jozi and ROSA

Elephat Road Blockby Mary Jo

Last week I wrote about our safari to Botswana, which was a great getaway with pampering and fine food and lovely, hospitable people.  But even though tales of Tarzan and amazing wildlife loom large in our imagination, safaris and elephants are only a tiny portion of the vast, ancient, and diverse continent of Africa.  

Which is why today I want to talk a bit about modern Africa.  In particular, I want Crade of Humankind walk wayto talk about Johannesburg, a world class city and one of Africa's major hubs.  We spent almost a week in "Jozi," partly because it was the launching point for our Botswana safari, partly we have friends in the city, and also because I had the pleasure of speaking at the annual conference of ROSA , the Romance writers Organization of South Africa.  

So much of our perceptions of foreign countries comes from what we see on the news.  Unfortunately, around the world the news mantra is "If it bleeds, it leads," and I have vivid memories of some of the horrors that took place in South Africa as the nation struggled for justice and equality.  

Long Walk to FreedomBut while we stayed in Joburg, the TV news channels had major coverage of a police shooting in Charlotte, North Carolina.  That story, while tragic and real, is not the whole story of America any more than South African violence is the story of South Africa.  The country has a complex history and 11 official languages, and I won't even try to describe the nation's history.  But its diversity is celebrated on September 24th, Heritage Day, which took place while we were visiting.  

Ghandi Square, editedJozi has a very specific history since the city was founded in 1886 when large gold deposits were discovered in the Witwatersrand hills.  The city grew rapidly (though no one is sure which Johannes the city is named after. <G>)  Like Denver, it's a mile high city, and is about the only major city in the world that isn't located on the ocean, a large river, or a lake.  (At left, Gandhi Square with a statue of Ghandhi, who lived many years in South Africa and developed his political ideals there.)

The elevation gives it one of the world's best climates, with lots of sunshine and moderate temperatures.  (I know some of these facts because we took the very interesting Red Bus tour of the city, which had excellent commentary which was apparently GPS based because the narration could say things like, "To your left you'll see Witwatersrand University" Westcliff Viewno matter what the traffic was like. 

The northern suburbs were planted with ten million trees to make the city the largest urban forest in the world.  (A view of the northern suburbs at right, from the Westcliff Hotel.)

I can't begin to do justice to this brief portrait of a vibrant city with energy and creativity.  It has a Newspaper headlinelively press, too–I was quite taken by this headline about water rats.  (Turns out that the area is in drought and water rats are people who use more than their share of water.)

Less than an hour from the city is the "Cradle of Humankind," a wonderful new museum located in an area of limestone caves where some of the most ancient early human remains have been found.  Africa is indeed the home of humankind, and the museum is a delight.  I'd love to go back and see more someday. 

Saxon headdressOur first nights, we stayed in the Saxon Hotel, a gorgeous place full of African art such as the mask shown here.  It was also the place where Nelson Mandela wrote his memoir, Long Walk to Freedom.  I had a total fan girl moment when I learned that!

ROSA

As I mentioned, we have friends who live in Joburg and they were wonderful tour guides.  The culmination of my visit was joining the members of ROSA for their annual conference.  The group is small compared to the romance writing groups in the US or Australia or New Zealand, but I was impressed by the professionalism of its members, and the way we all participate in a world wide romance community.  (American editors and agents took pitches via Skype from ROSA members.)

Here's a picture of me at ROSA with fellow authors Joss Wood, Rebecca Crowley, ROSA with Joss Wood, MJP, Rebecca, Rae Riversand Rae Rivers.  The picture below is of my author friend Alissa Cantrell, and Romy Sommer, who was not only the conference chair but a RITA finalist this year for her contemporary romance, Not a Fairy Tale. 

ROSA conference. editedRomance is universal–and so are romance writers!

Mary Jo

70 thoughts on “Jozi and ROSA”

  1. Well done Mary Jo on the above blog. You certainly showed an interesting cross section of Johannesburg. We really enjoyed your visit. Thanks for gracing the ROSA conference with your presence and making me cry when you read that delightful vignette on Eva Ibbotsen.
    I caught some advertising for Cradle of Humankind on one of the TV channels. “I saw that – I saw that.” I shouted at the screen. Like you I want to go back and I’ll take Ken with me and we’ll check out the caves!
    Tessa Baxter
    http://www.alissabaxter.com

    Reply
  2. Well done Mary Jo on the above blog. You certainly showed an interesting cross section of Johannesburg. We really enjoyed your visit. Thanks for gracing the ROSA conference with your presence and making me cry when you read that delightful vignette on Eva Ibbotsen.
    I caught some advertising for Cradle of Humankind on one of the TV channels. “I saw that – I saw that.” I shouted at the screen. Like you I want to go back and I’ll take Ken with me and we’ll check out the caves!
    Tessa Baxter
    http://www.alissabaxter.com

    Reply
  3. Well done Mary Jo on the above blog. You certainly showed an interesting cross section of Johannesburg. We really enjoyed your visit. Thanks for gracing the ROSA conference with your presence and making me cry when you read that delightful vignette on Eva Ibbotsen.
    I caught some advertising for Cradle of Humankind on one of the TV channels. “I saw that – I saw that.” I shouted at the screen. Like you I want to go back and I’ll take Ken with me and we’ll check out the caves!
    Tessa Baxter
    http://www.alissabaxter.com

    Reply
  4. Well done Mary Jo on the above blog. You certainly showed an interesting cross section of Johannesburg. We really enjoyed your visit. Thanks for gracing the ROSA conference with your presence and making me cry when you read that delightful vignette on Eva Ibbotsen.
    I caught some advertising for Cradle of Humankind on one of the TV channels. “I saw that – I saw that.” I shouted at the screen. Like you I want to go back and I’ll take Ken with me and we’ll check out the caves!
    Tessa Baxter
    http://www.alissabaxter.com

    Reply
  5. Well done Mary Jo on the above blog. You certainly showed an interesting cross section of Johannesburg. We really enjoyed your visit. Thanks for gracing the ROSA conference with your presence and making me cry when you read that delightful vignette on Eva Ibbotsen.
    I caught some advertising for Cradle of Humankind on one of the TV channels. “I saw that – I saw that.” I shouted at the screen. Like you I want to go back and I’ll take Ken with me and we’ll check out the caves!
    Tessa Baxter
    http://www.alissabaxter.com

    Reply
  6. Mary Jo, I loved both of your Africa posts. So well-written, so informative, and so fun. I want to go there, and if ever I get the chance to do a safari, I’ll be sure to get in touch with you for contact details.
    A copy of that mask hangs on the wall of my family room. I collect masks and have ones from all over the world. It was great seeing that the original is in a museum.

    Reply
  7. Mary Jo, I loved both of your Africa posts. So well-written, so informative, and so fun. I want to go there, and if ever I get the chance to do a safari, I’ll be sure to get in touch with you for contact details.
    A copy of that mask hangs on the wall of my family room. I collect masks and have ones from all over the world. It was great seeing that the original is in a museum.

    Reply
  8. Mary Jo, I loved both of your Africa posts. So well-written, so informative, and so fun. I want to go there, and if ever I get the chance to do a safari, I’ll be sure to get in touch with you for contact details.
    A copy of that mask hangs on the wall of my family room. I collect masks and have ones from all over the world. It was great seeing that the original is in a museum.

    Reply
  9. Mary Jo, I loved both of your Africa posts. So well-written, so informative, and so fun. I want to go there, and if ever I get the chance to do a safari, I’ll be sure to get in touch with you for contact details.
    A copy of that mask hangs on the wall of my family room. I collect masks and have ones from all over the world. It was great seeing that the original is in a museum.

    Reply
  10. Mary Jo, I loved both of your Africa posts. So well-written, so informative, and so fun. I want to go there, and if ever I get the chance to do a safari, I’ll be sure to get in touch with you for contact details.
    A copy of that mask hangs on the wall of my family room. I collect masks and have ones from all over the world. It was great seeing that the original is in a museum.

    Reply
  11. Tess. isn’t that Eva Ibbotson piece wonderful? She’s a terrific writer–I recommend her adult romances like COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS, MAGIC FLUTES, and A COMPANY OF SWANS. Magical!
    Like you, I thought the Cradle of Mankind museum was amazing, and you and Ken definitely need to go back and visit the caves!

    Reply
  12. Tess. isn’t that Eva Ibbotson piece wonderful? She’s a terrific writer–I recommend her adult romances like COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS, MAGIC FLUTES, and A COMPANY OF SWANS. Magical!
    Like you, I thought the Cradle of Mankind museum was amazing, and you and Ken definitely need to go back and visit the caves!

    Reply
  13. Tess. isn’t that Eva Ibbotson piece wonderful? She’s a terrific writer–I recommend her adult romances like COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS, MAGIC FLUTES, and A COMPANY OF SWANS. Magical!
    Like you, I thought the Cradle of Mankind museum was amazing, and you and Ken definitely need to go back and visit the caves!

    Reply
  14. Tess. isn’t that Eva Ibbotson piece wonderful? She’s a terrific writer–I recommend her adult romances like COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS, MAGIC FLUTES, and A COMPANY OF SWANS. Magical!
    Like you, I thought the Cradle of Mankind museum was amazing, and you and Ken definitely need to go back and visit the caves!

    Reply
  15. Tess. isn’t that Eva Ibbotson piece wonderful? She’s a terrific writer–I recommend her adult romances like COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS, MAGIC FLUTES, and A COMPANY OF SWANS. Magical!
    Like you, I thought the Cradle of Mankind museum was amazing, and you and Ken definitely need to go back and visit the caves!

    Reply
  16. Keira–oooh, a room of masks! This one wasn’t precisely in a museum, but the Saxon is a 5 star hotel that is clearly dedicated to honoring South Africa’s heritable. There was a different mask opposite, though I didn’t photograph it because the light wasn’t as good. There were other wonderful artworks–baskets, statues, great stuff! But that mask was definitely one of the most striking pieces.

    Reply
  17. Keira–oooh, a room of masks! This one wasn’t precisely in a museum, but the Saxon is a 5 star hotel that is clearly dedicated to honoring South Africa’s heritable. There was a different mask opposite, though I didn’t photograph it because the light wasn’t as good. There were other wonderful artworks–baskets, statues, great stuff! But that mask was definitely one of the most striking pieces.

    Reply
  18. Keira–oooh, a room of masks! This one wasn’t precisely in a museum, but the Saxon is a 5 star hotel that is clearly dedicated to honoring South Africa’s heritable. There was a different mask opposite, though I didn’t photograph it because the light wasn’t as good. There were other wonderful artworks–baskets, statues, great stuff! But that mask was definitely one of the most striking pieces.

    Reply
  19. Keira–oooh, a room of masks! This one wasn’t precisely in a museum, but the Saxon is a 5 star hotel that is clearly dedicated to honoring South Africa’s heritable. There was a different mask opposite, though I didn’t photograph it because the light wasn’t as good. There were other wonderful artworks–baskets, statues, great stuff! But that mask was definitely one of the most striking pieces.

    Reply
  20. Keira–oooh, a room of masks! This one wasn’t precisely in a museum, but the Saxon is a 5 star hotel that is clearly dedicated to honoring South Africa’s heritable. There was a different mask opposite, though I didn’t photograph it because the light wasn’t as good. There were other wonderful artworks–baskets, statues, great stuff! But that mask was definitely one of the most striking pieces.

    Reply
  21. Thank for this great tour. Another place I’d like to visit, but probably won’t live long enough. (I AM NOT being morbic! at 89 I need to be realistic.) So, since I’ll probably not get there, thank you again for your tour.

    Reply
  22. Thank for this great tour. Another place I’d like to visit, but probably won’t live long enough. (I AM NOT being morbic! at 89 I need to be realistic.) So, since I’ll probably not get there, thank you again for your tour.

    Reply
  23. Thank for this great tour. Another place I’d like to visit, but probably won’t live long enough. (I AM NOT being morbic! at 89 I need to be realistic.) So, since I’ll probably not get there, thank you again for your tour.

    Reply
  24. Thank for this great tour. Another place I’d like to visit, but probably won’t live long enough. (I AM NOT being morbic! at 89 I need to be realistic.) So, since I’ll probably not get there, thank you again for your tour.

    Reply
  25. Thank for this great tour. Another place I’d like to visit, but probably won’t live long enough. (I AM NOT being morbic! at 89 I need to be realistic.) So, since I’ll probably not get there, thank you again for your tour.

    Reply
  26. South Africa has been on my bucket list since my niece served there in the Peace Corps about 10 years ago. I heard so many wonderful things about the country from her.

    Reply
  27. South Africa has been on my bucket list since my niece served there in the Peace Corps about 10 years ago. I heard so many wonderful things about the country from her.

    Reply
  28. South Africa has been on my bucket list since my niece served there in the Peace Corps about 10 years ago. I heard so many wonderful things about the country from her.

    Reply
  29. South Africa has been on my bucket list since my niece served there in the Peace Corps about 10 years ago. I heard so many wonderful things about the country from her.

    Reply
  30. South Africa has been on my bucket list since my niece served there in the Peace Corps about 10 years ago. I heard so many wonderful things about the country from her.

    Reply

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