Open Pretoria

copyright Elna Schutz
I’ve been back in my hometown of Pretoria for a while now and am finally getting more involved with all those interesting things I always knew must have been hidden somewhere. I’m hoping to do a lot more writing about awesome things in the capital, so keep an eye on the blog.

In my personal opinion just too many of the culture and event websites in South Africa have an extremely cynical tone, as if something can only be remotely enjoyable if it’s the most ground-breaking and underground thing to have ever been made, preferably by equally cynical people with beards.

That’s not the kind of stuff I write. I happen to believe you don’t make stuff cooler by putting down everything else. In the wise words of The1Janitor:

you're allowed to like stuff

To kick off all things Pretoria, I recently went on a walking tour of the CBD hosted by  Capital Collective as part of Cool Capital 2014, who are both doing some great things for the city.

Led by local architect Andries Adriaan Louw, we  trekked through arcades and hidden side streets. From the half-built Rapid Transport System bus stops to the abandoned synagogue where the Rivonia trial took place, we went into some pretty awesome hidden corners. While similar photowalks and Instameets are popular Pta, it was lovely to see a mixed group, with some sketching or just along for the heck of it.

copyright Elna Schutz

I almost wish these kind of events would be superfluous. In a perfect world Pretorians would know and love their inner city and all its history as much as the locals of Barcelona or Rome. I know we’re far away from that, but it really is time get out from behind the hijack-proof car windows and explore our home beyond cushy shopping malls.

copyright Elna Schutz

Among my favourite childhood memories are school holiday trips into the CBD. Back when using public transport was dodgy at best and there was nothing rapid about it, my mom would take us into town with the bus. We’d feed the pigeons at Oom Paul square, visit museums and spend hours in the huge public library. For a European child this would be nothing out of the ordinary, but in my  insular world of security fences and carpooling this was an adventure like few others.

My mom’s insistence that her children wouldn’t be scared of their hometown seemed strange then, but crucial to me now. That pride and belief that Pretoria is a beautiful old city stuck and is now probably what’s making me so eager to be part of the drive to get people engaged.

copyright Elna Schutz

There’s definitely a revival brewing, and this is the time to not only get on the bandwagon but help shape it. Areas like Joburg’s Braamfontein and Maboneng should show us what’s possible as much as what we can do different. You don’t have to be one of those ‘arty creative types’  with purple hair to fit in either if that’s not your vibe. If there’s one thing about the capital that’s always been cool, it’s the authenticity of the people. Come in your tekkies and have a jol, even if you don’t care that the beer is craft and the coffee is single-origin.

copyright Elna SchutzConsidering that for the longest time couldn’t imagine living here full time again, I’m getting so excited about the possibilities and can’t wait to see what Pretoria looks like in five years.
Maybe I’ve seen the light, or just eaten one too many koeksisters.


What would you love to see happen in the capital? 
Drop me a comment. 

**Photos copyrighted to Elna Schütz. Don’t use without permission. It’s not nice.*


2 thoughts on “Open Pretoria

  1. I had to come to Busan, Korea to realise how wonderful it can be to explore your city or the place you call home. I want to take that with me back to SA; I want to walk more, take more pics and tap into SA’s hidden treasures. Thanks for the reminder Elna x

    • It’s so sad how this seems to be a common thing here, but I really hope that when our generation has kids they grow up with an understanding and love of their cities, not fear:)
      So glad you’ve discovered that now! Hope Korea’s going awesomely!

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