Focus on Yeoville, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

IT'S lunchtime on Saturday and the main drag down Rockey and Raleigh streets in Yeoville is buzzing. The cacophony resonating along the pavements is a mixture of a dozen different languages, revving motor engines and a confusing blend of music from all over Africa.

People say Yeoville is the new Sophiatown, the cultural melting pot of Johannesburg where the Rastafarian, the gay, the Nigerian, the Ethiopian and a host of other cultures occupy a dynamic but harmonious niche.

Bob Eveleigh, the entertainment editor in 2005 of the Port Elizabeth newspaper, The Herald, observed that Yeoville once had the "colourful, bohemian energy and eclecticism reminiscent of New York's East Village, Amsterdam and London's Camden Town".

The suburb, one of Johannesburg's oldest, was once an elite district populated by the city's rich and famous. Yet it is recognised as one of the first of Jozi's residential areas where different racial groups integrated.

In the late 80s Yeoville was "a bastion of apartheid defiance and a melting pot where creative people of all races, backgrounds, lifestyles, classes and creeds cross-pollinated", Eveleigh wrote.

Today Yeoville is a receptive sponge for the downtrodden, the hopeful and the affluent from all over the world - all vying for a piece of the Yeoville of the past, despite the evident decline of the buildings, the beggars crouching around street corners, the unsavoury elements in gloomy alleyways.

But at the weekend, Yeoville rocks.


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