There’s no denying that Cape Town has beautiful beaches, jaw-dropping scenery, and an enviable laid-back lifestyle. There’s also no denying that if you ask any Capetonian about what they think of Johannesburg, they’ll go on and on about the crime, the grime, and, most importantly, that it lacks a mountain. And don’t get them started on the inhabitants of Jozi, as they’ll tell you all about how obnoxious, money-obsessed, and generally crass they are. But I’m here to tell you that Capetonians are horribly wrong, and that while their city is beautiful, they’re not telling you everything. Here’s why you shouldn’t use Joburg as just a transit stop, and how it’s actually BETTER than Cape Town.
Joburg isn’t windy
This is quite possibly, one of the main reasons why Joburg is better than Cape Town — the wind in the ‘Mother City’ (as South Africans like to call Cape Town) can feel like the bowels of hell have erupted — in your face. People get blown off scooters, every day is a bad hair day, and the incessant howling (and I mean incessant) will make you feel like you are losing your mind. The wind actually explains a lot about why Cape Town is the way it is, but I’ll get to that later. The elements in Cape Town are way, way more extreme than in temperate, meteorologically chilled Joburg. You want sunshine in winter, without freezing torrential rain that hits you at a perpendicular angle? Don’t go to Cape Town. Head to Joburg instead (you may encounter an apocalyptic dust storm, but those are rare).
Joburgers are more proactive
In Cape Town it takes FOREVER to get something done; time is slow and the people are slower. You need a rental car pronto or speedy service in a restaurant? Be prepared to wait — like Godot. Joburgers, on the other hand, don’t twiddle their thumbs — they make things happen. The logistics can be worked out later.
People actually work in Joburg
In Cape Town you’ll notice a perplexing phenomenon — almost all the white people appear to be unemployed. Yet they have oodles of money and can be seen out and about jogging on the beach or riding horses in forests at 10am. It’s an age-old mystery that no one can solve: how do these people enjoy such a luxurious lifestyle without slogging away at a desk? Some say it’s ‘old money’, while others reckon these Capetonians have somehow mastered the ‘4-hour Workweek’. Either way, it’s weird and it’s bound to annoy you. You won’t find such nonsense and carefree folly in Joburg. After all, someone has to keep the economy going. And it ain’t the fairest Cape.
Joburgers are willing to make an effort
Capetonians are notoriously flakey and cliquey — if you’re here on a visit don’t expect to make fast friends. And, whatever you do, don’t ask a Capetonian to meet up somewhere that’s (gasp) further than a 15-minute drive from where they live. They just won’t do it. A Joburger, on the other hand, won’t hesitate for a second if you propose driving to a neighboring country for a beer.
Joburgers make their own entertainment
In Joburg there’s no sea or mountain: Joburgers have to be a little inventive when it comes to their amusement. Where else can you find a beach on top of an inner-city building? Or a Tuscan-style village-cum-casino? In Joburg, that’s where. And while some of this inventiveness may be downright tacky and hideous, that’s not the point. The point is that Joburgers know how to entertain themselves. A bit like an only child.
Joburgers know how to drive
Drivers that veer in and out of lanes, with no indicators, at ridiculously slow speeds … welcome to Cape Town. Driving in Cape Town is akin to being on the road with thousands of blind octogenarians: there’s no sense of urgency and rules of the road are largely forgotten. It should be noted that Capetonians are very polite drivers — to each other. God help you if you have a number plate that doesn’t start with a ‘CA’: those smug bastards will give you the finger and try run you off the road otherwise (this is especially true if your number plate ends with a ‘GP’). Joburgers, however, tend to not discriminate when it comes to road rage: they’ll be abusive to all and sundry — including each other.
Joburg doesn’t have baboons
Rat infestations, yes. But not vicious primates. Houses in Cape Town are regularly targeted by troops of baboons — the end result being that your kitchen will look like The Who had a raucous after-party in your pantry.
Apartheid ended in 1994 in Joburg
Cape Town as a whole is still hugely divided: yes, it may feel like ‘Europe’ in some parts, but what you need to ask yourself is, “Where are all the black people?”. The answer being that many of them are still relegated to townships on the city’s outskirts. There is also very little integration, and Cape Town definitely lacks in the multiracial vibe that predominates Jozi. Of course, Joburg has its own post-Apartheid issues of division and persistent inequalities, but it just seems that much more obvious/worse in Cape Town. If you don’t believe me you can read this New York Times article. What’s more, is that although Johannesburg has pockets of gentrification, Cape Town is basically one big gentrified city.
Joburgers are more friendly
This is a well-known fact — Capetonians are notoriously cliquey and they don’t like to move beyond the confines of their already well-established social circles. Joburgers, however, are incredibly friendly, welcoming, and love getting to know new people. Don’t be shy in Jozi: you can make a friend practically anywhere.
It’s cheaper to fly to Joburg
This is a no-brainer: all international flights are cheaper if your destination is Johannesburg. It’s also usually a shorter distance to fly, because Cape Town is at bottom of the world. And you’ll eliminate that pesky transit time.
People in Joburg generally speak English
A significant part of Cape Town’s population is made up of Coloureds. No, it’s not derogatory to call them that, as Cape Coloureds have their own distinct culture that goes beyond ‘mixed race’. They also have a very particular way of speaking, which sounds like Dutch on acid.
You can have Joburg to yourself in peak season
Over the Christmas/New Year holidays, Joburg’s inhabitants make a mass exodus out of the city. This is generally a crazy time, with loads of drinking, crowds and road carnage. Coastal destinations like Durban become insanely crowded with holiday-makers, and Cape Town also gets its share of chaos (and jacked-up prices). Avoid this type of hell by just staying in Joburg — it’s the one time of year when traffic is almost non-existent, shopping is a pleasure, and there’s a general sense of calm/eerie-quiet in the air.
Capetonians operate in a different reality/time continuum
Joburgers believe that time is money; Capetonians believe that time is merely a construct. As mentioned previously, time seems to slow in Cape Town. They also smoke a lot of the good stuff.
Cape Town’s beaches are nice in theory, not in practice
While Joburg may have sharks of the metaphorical kind, Cape Town has sharks of the actual kind. Not only that, but the sea is freezing and hypothermia-inducing, even in the summer. And you’ll usually have sand blasted in your face, thanks to the previously mentioned wind. Forget the ocean, the mountain, and vineyards — go to Joburg instead!
And just to show we don’t seriously love one city more than the other, here are the best reasons that Cape Town is better than Joburg.