On a previously non-descript, but historical hill in Johannesburg an imposing new construction has risen, providing residence to Wits postdoctoral fellows, visiting academics and students pursuing postgraduate qualifications.
The Wits Junction Residence Complex, a newly built and spacious, secure space on the Ridge in Parktown, is officially being opened on Wednesday, 31 October 2012 at 17:00 for 17:30 at the eMzini Wami Student Centre, Wits Junction, Junction Avenue, Parktown. Tours of the complex will start at 16h45. The media is welcome to attend. RSVP to .
The opening is being combined with the launch Luli Callinicos' new book, Who built Jozi: Discovering memory at Wits Junction.
In the design of the Wits Junction, the University has strived to set a new standard in student accommodation by creating a diverse range of self-catering residential choices set in a distinct urban university environment. Students, including postdoctoral fellows and visiting academics, have the option of choosing between various unit sizes ranging from one, two and four bedroom flats, all fully furnished.
"The R511 million development of 1200 new beds has increased the University's residence capacity by 25%," says Professor Patrick FitzGerald, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Finance and Operations.
"The completed project is part of an ongoing response by the University to address the residence shortage highlighted in the recently published Ministerial Task Team report on student accommodation. Government's contribution of R60.5 million has offset the loan financing costs and consequently brought the student rentals to within an affordable level. "
Each apartment is equipped with a telephone, internet connectivity with unlimited access, a television areal point and a wall mounted heater providing all the essentials for comfortable residence living.
Apart from the student friendly environment, residents of Wits Junction will also get a fusion of local history as each of the 13 new residential blocks and roads are baptised with names of historical significance drawing on the theme of movement and migration during the early years of discovering gold, and establishing Johannesburg.
The discovery of gold brought together a diverse migrant workforce from around the country - from neighbouring countries and from distant shores. A vibrant way to commemorate this early history is to draw on the songs of early migrants.
"This development has also paid careful attention to the restoration of the five heritage houses in the complex, adapting them as warden's residences, flats for visiting professors, administration facilities and a fully equipped student centre, thereby ensuring the long-term sustainability of Johannesburg's heritage," says Fitzgerald.
The naming of this significant residential complex offers the opportunity to create a sense of place for students and staff that is contemporary and upbeat and at the same time supports the building, renewal and understanding of history, cultures, traditions and values.
Building names include Ingolovane, named after the Xhosa song Ingolovane (the wheelbarrow), referring to the mining trucks which would carry the gold up and down the mine shafts; Mohokare - a Sotho song sung by Sotho migrants as they crossed the Caledon River (Mohokare) and came to work on the Rand mines - the song expresses their feelings as the journey changed them from farmers to workers; and Tubuke (Tubuke Ku Kaya) - a Rhodesian mine song where workers lament for their home. Translated into English it literally means "Let us go home to Mwankenja".
As mines were not only worked by African natives but a variety of nations including Chinese and Indian migrants, building names will also reflect the understanding of early South Africa, and particularly the establishment of Johannesburg.
It is this connection to the Johannesburg history that the book Who Built Jozi: Discovering Memory at Wits Junction draws on. Callinicos weaves a fascinating fabric, exploring the foundations of Johannesburg by making the connections between the legacy of those first newcomers to the city and today's post-apartheid generation living in the residential complex, a conversation between the present and the past.
This book is a treasure trove of local history, written in an accessible style, it is richly illustrated in full colour, using both historic and contemporary photographs, paintings and maps.
Luli Callinicos is the author of The World that made Mandela: a Heritage Trail published in 2000, followed by Oliver Tambo: Beyond the Engeli Mountains, among others. She is currently council member of the Robben Island Museum, the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, the South African History Archives and Khanya College.
For media queries about Wits Junction contact on (011) 717-1017.
For media queries about the book Who Built Jozi: Discovering Memory at Wits Junction, contact on (011) 717-8705.
Wits University, situated in Johannesburg, the commercial and industrial heartland of Africa, is internationally renowned for its academic and research excellence. It is one of only two universities in Africa, and the only university in Johannesburg to feature in the top 400- more....
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