Tineke Postma ‘Visions of Johannesburg’

- 03 Aug 2020

With all international touring plans currently on hold, Dutch saxophonist and composer Tineke Postma talks about her visit to the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival in Johannesburg - a city steeped in history, culture and music.
“Visiting Johannesburg made me a richer person and more aware of the heavy history and its effects on today’s life. It was confronting and as always beautiful to see the strength of musicians trying to express themselves through their art in a very deep way no matter what the circumstances are.”
Johannesburg, 2012

During tours, it can feel comfortable to stay at a good corporate hotel in a fancy area like Rosebank in ‘Joburg’ but what makes me way more happy is to spend time with locals and artists at their favourite spots. Traveling keeps me humble, inspired, grateful. It always teaches me a lot about life.

This was my first time in Johannesburg and I was very excited to finally visit this vibrant city. The 13th annual Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival invited me to join a Saxophone Summit.

From the moment I arrived, I felt the historic weight on my shoulders as a Dutch white person so I was totally touched by the love I felt from the musicians from Johannesburg such as saxophonist Nthabesing Mokoena who became a friend, a sister. I met the most generous, warm and friendly people who were willing to share their stories and culture with me.

Apart from knowing a modest bit about the South African history, I read that though there had been an explosive rise of the black middle class, the presence of blacks in formerly white suburbs such as in Rosebank, where I stayed, remained low and the city was visibly and traumatically segregated. Up to today, there’s a huge difference between the rich and poor areas. And indeed, visiting different parts of the city, I saw a city of extremes; I saw the most fancy streets but also visited neighbourhoods with unpaved streets without electricity and young boys walking around with a gun.

On our free day, our festival manager took us to township Soweto for a tour. Soweto was created in the 1930s when the white government started separating blacks from whites. It became the largest black city in South Africa and to the outside world, Soweto stood for black solidarity. To be able visit the modest house where icon Nelson Mandela lived and fought for justice was impressive and it touched me deeply.

Visiting Johannesburg made me a richer person and more aware of the heavy history and its effects on today’s life. It was confronting and as always beautiful to see the strength of musicians trying to express themselves through their art in a very deep way no matter what the circumstances are.

Especially in these times, I believe it would be a good and nurturing experience for everyone to visit this amazing city and get a taste of its history.

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