Upon returning to the intersection of the two tour routes at Constitution Hill, I decided to take a break from the tour bus and explore the Old Fort, which dates back to the Boer Wars, and was used as a prison for some time. The fort was one in which it appeared that they dug into the ground, and that the hill served as part of the fortification, with a pathway that would circle the outer perimeter at the top. When visiting the fort, it is possible to take a walk along this perimeter.
The upper perimeter gives you the ability to see more of the fort’s buildings where the prison was housed and the old watch tower of the fort. The prison was used to house white prisoners in the early stages of the movement for apartheid as they were kept separate from the other races in a facility I would see later on. The only non-white prisoner kept here was Nelson Mandela as he awaited his trial that led to his conviction for his efforts against Apartheid, and that was due to a tip-off of a potential escape attempt.
The height of the hill also puts you at a vantage point to see more of the city, whether it be the buildings of Hillbrow, Hillbrow Tower, or the Constitutional Court building of South Africa.
Across the lot near where the buses pick up and drop off for the tour route, there was another prison, which was the prison where those who were not white were kept during the early stages of apartheid. This was located a bit lower on the hill.
Something that really sticks out about this facility is that it showed just how different the conditions were for the “native jail” as it was referred to. Communal lavatories with even less privacy than a more typical jail cell, open yards of solid pavement that could get extremely hot in the African Sun with little shade. Some may contend that they shouldn’t commit crimes if they don’t want to deal with the punishment, but when you look back to the buildings where the white prisoners were kept, it was pretty obvious that there was a HUGE difference in their treatment.
You could also see the isolation cells where some were kept for long periods of time with meager meals to feed them. While the use of solitary confinement is not a new concept and is practiced in other parts of the world, I could only imagine how often its use may have been abused by the wardens.
One of the more significant people to have been imprisoned here was none other than Mahatma Gandhi during a time in which he lived in South Africa as he had been a practicing lawyer in the area when it was under British rule like his native India. The reason for his arrest was tied to civil disobedience as he sought civil rights for the Indian people in South Africa. There was an exhibit that was dedicated to he and Mandela for their roles in the fight for civil rights in South Africa as two of the more well known prisoners to be held here.
Upon returning to the City Sightseeing Tours bus, I would get back on the original route to complete the rest of the loop towards where I began at the Carlton Centre, stopping along part of the route for lunch, and then continuing on to SAB World of Beer. Along the way, we see the Gauteng Legislative Building, where to provincial laws of the province of Gauteng.
As we drove this way, There was something I began to notice about several buildings in the Joburg City Center, and that was the number of broken windows in some of the sky scrapers and buildings. It was a bit surprising as the greater Johannesburg area is the heart of the economic power of South Africa, which in turn is one of the economic powers of the African continent, and yet here were buildings that looked like they could have just as easily been in a struggling city back home in the state like Detroit.
Of course, the whole city is not in such rough shape as there were plenty of areas that were busy with vehicles driving through town, filled with people shopping at open air markets and visiting popular shopping centers in Gandhi Square, named in honor of the inspiration civil rights leader.
Even in this part of town, there are more examples of the city’s ties to it’s gold mining past, from the old mining rigs surrounded by office buildings, to the old locomotives on display.
After retracing part of the tour route, it was back to SAB World of Beer, a special attraction of South African Breweries for a brewery tour and beer tastings.
Because of the timing of my arrival, I missed out on the chance to catch a tour, so I decided to join the beer tasting to try some of the locally made beers. One of the best parts of participating in the beer tasting is that you receive two additional beers from their lounge upstairs. I chose to enjoy a beer that I had several times on this trip so far, Castle.
As for the beer tasting, it was the first one I had ever participated in, so I was curious to see what it was like. It was set as a presentation with the use of power point to provide information about each beer, the tastes you would experience, the composition and other things of that nature. Each table had seating for two with a clean glass for each beer, and crackers and water to cleanse your palate for each beer.
As for the beers that we tasted, they started us off with Castle Lager, one that I was already familiar with, but was now gaining a better understanding of its flavor.
The next was Castle Lite, which wasn’t bad. I don’t know that I would go with it most often, but this was said to be a very popular beer during the hotter days. I will say, I preferred it to the light beers we have back in the states.
Beer #3 would end up being my favorite, and that was Black Label. This one had a very mild hint of banana to it, and it was an absolute delight! They say that this is one of the most popular at sporting events, and upon future beer purchases while in South Africa, this would become my go to beer when available!
The next two were presented as imports, and I had a little laugh to myself. As it turns out, SAB is owned by InBev, the same company that owns Anheuser-Busch back home, along with several other brands around the world. So for those who live in Africa, these may be more exotic, but for me, I see these everywhere back home as they were Stella Artois and Corona. But it was interesting to learn more about the basis of their flavor and to try them with a cleansed palate.
My personal beer preferences tend to be on the lighter side, as I’m a fan of wheat beers, Belgian Whites and hefeweizens. I’m not usually a fan of darker beers or stouts that have a coffee based flavor as I’m not much of a coffee drinker. The Castle Milk Stout, however, was a pleasant surprise as I found myself enjoying the taste of it.
In the end, I did enjoy the beer tasting experience, and would say that with the amount of beer you were given from the samples, and the included beverages with your admission, it was well worth the price. Plus I found a beer that may be one of my favorites in all of my travels.
It was at this point that I found out that there was a couple who was a part of the same beer tasting who were from South Carolina, and so I grabbed my other included beer as we had a nice long chat about our travel experiences, future plans and cultural differences. That being said, I think you know which one I chose for my last beer…….
And that would bring an end to my day exploring Joburg. The next few days would be spent away from the city, with the next part of the trip being for what has to be the most effort I have gone through to ride a roller coaster.
See more of 2018 South Africa Trip:
1: Flight to Atlanta & Delta Flight Museum / 2: Arrival to South Africa / 3: First Day in Durban /
4: Second Day in Durban / 5: Last Day in Durban / 6: V&A Waterfront / 7: Cape Town City Sightseeing Tours /
8: Table Mountain / 9: Ratanga Junction / 10: Rugby at Newlands Rugby Stadium / 11: Cape Town Walking Tours /
12: Cape of Good Hope / 13: Boulders Beach Penguins / 14: The Last of Cape Town / 15: Cape Town Water Shortage /
16: Sightseeing Around Johannesburg / 17: More Johannesburg Sightseeing / 18: Botswana Day Trip /
19: Kruger National Park, Day 1 / 20: Kruger National Park, Day 2 / 21: Kruger National Park, Day 3 /
22: Gold Reef City Resort & Amenities / 23: Apartheid Museum & Rand Show / 24: Gold Reef City Theme Park /
25: The Return Home