You probably didn’t know it, but if you flew into O.R. Tambo International Airport you have already visited Ekurhuleni. The district, that takes its name from a Tsonga word meaning “place of peace” is Joburg’s neighbouring metro and comprises nine cities, including Benoni (birthplace and once home to Hollywood royalty Charlize Theron and Monaco’s princess Charlene Wittstock), Springs, Boksburg, Brakpan, Germiston and Edenvale.
Known as the “East Rand”, these were once prosperous industrial and mining towns, linked by an artery aptly called ‘Main Reef Road’ made first by the wheel tracks of the ox wagons of miners following the reef of gold discovered in 1886. While mining is no longer a primary activity, and industry has not managed to replace its demands, there are still many traces of the gold rush, from the mine dumps that dot the outskirts of Benoni (and are now used by sandboarders) to the rich, but sadly neglected collection, of Art Deco heritage buildings concentrated in Brakpan and Springs.
If you have some time to explore Ekurhuleni you’ll find it operates at a different pace to its frenetic neighbour, almost as if it in a different time zone, in many parts less flash, slower paced but rich in history and activities.