#4: Eat lunch in Braamfontein. I was told to “look for the green mosaic on De Korte street” to locate the exotically named Narina Trogon. The last time I ventured out for lunch in Braamfontein the Nationalist Party were clinging onto their final days in power and I was wearing T-shirts that had slogans like “Subvert the dominant paradigm”. Then, the Health Scene across the road from Wits East Campus and the original Nino’s were the closest thing we had to fashionable after the Students Union Canteen. Now there’s Narina Trogon – named, I am reliably told by Wikipedia, after a “medium-sized (up to 34cm long) largely green bird found in forests across Africa, from Sierra Leone to Kenya and eastern South Africa. It got its name from Narina, the Khoikhoi mistress of a French ornithologist”. It’s a rare bird filled with light and colour, mosaics, mirrors and unexpected spaces (a back garden that affords a view of the grey city blocks rising above it). The food – a Goat’s Cheese Salad – was tasty, the cappuccinos strong.
Braamfontein, on the friendlier edge of the city centre, has been undergoing a reinvention — and unlike Joburg’s CBD there’s a good chance that the momentum will be sustained. Cheap rentals have attracted artists to the area, corporates who are headquartered there have invested in good lighting and security and there’s a street life on a winter’s afternoon that makes you wish for a city without a broken heart. Within a few minutes’ walk is Constitution Hill, Adam Levy’s immaculately restored Alexander Theatre, a pretty green space next to the hideously ugly Civic Theatre and one of my favourite Joburg museums, Origins Centre on Wits Campus. I think I hear birdsong. To read more about Narina Trogon