Johannesburg, South Africa

Johannesburg is #2 on The 2014 GOOD City Index.

It’s to Joburg’s advantage that, distracted by Cape Town, people don’t seem to pay as much attention to it as they should. The city gives those who give it the time of day a chance to step in and own a small pocket of something—an idea, a space, a view, or a solution. Not that there aren’t many systemic problems in Joburg: crime, poverty, dubious political spending, and a lack of infrastructure and proper sanitation, just to name a few. But the city is good at finding new, sometimes unorthodox, ways to fix itself, like freeing owls to hunt rats in the townships and starting a youth photography skills development program named “Iwasshot in Joburg :).” In 2014, the African National Congress (ANC), the political party once headed by Nelson Mandela, saw slipping numbers in the provincial elections, as the influence of younger, forward-looking voters—whose political alliances aren't as heavily influenced by past promises of post-apartheid South Africa—began to set in. More and more, urban regeneration projects signaled this shifting spirit, such as bike lanes in Soweto, a multi-use development in the once-rundown area of Newtown, and the Joburg Art Fair, which became a truly citywide celebration.

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