21 April 2016 | Carina van Wyk
An excited group of about 20 gogos and mkhulus (grandmothers and grandfathers) explored Joburg from a slightly different angle this week – on the city's red bus.
The pensioners, all from Soshanguve in Tshwane and members of non-profit organisation Gogo on Tour, hopped on the double-decker bus at Gold Reef City Casino Hotel on Wednesday, 20 April 2016. As the bus moved through the city streets, they broke into song every now and again, their excitement almost tangible.
For the best views of Jozi, sit in front. Image: Liane Kim Photography
Gogo on Tour offers senior citizens the opportunity to explore various parts of South Africa. Many of these pensioners are assisting their children financially or raising their grandchildren on small state pensions, and trips like these help them forget about their travails for a day.
The pensioners on Joburg's red bus. Image: Liane Kim Photography
Their first stop was the SAB World of Beer (usually stop 14), where the pensioners joined a tour in which they learned about the history of beer. “Now I know how people make beer. I didn’t know where beer started, but today I know. I’m very happy for everything,” said Delia Phetle (72).
They were in awe as the red bus crossed Nelson Mandela Bridge in the CBD on the way to Constitution Hill (usually stop 5) for a historical tour of the women’s jail. Emotions ran high as they walked through the cells where black women used to be held in solitary confinement years ago.
“When I see this prison, my heart beats slow. This was a terrible life,” said James Makhwelo (72), as he looked into one of the cells.
James Makhwelo (72) standing in a cell door in the women's jail at Constitution Hill. Image: City Sightseeing
When asked if she enjoyed the tour, Ruth Makhubela (62) answered: “Too much. To the fullest. I was the happiest today – to tour is my dream.”
According to Thandi Skosana (68), Gogo on Tour is not just about going places. "It's about learning and giving that knowledge to our grandchildren. It opens your mind, you learn history, you can help your grandchildren with history and geography," she said.
The smiles say it all. Image: City Sightseeing
“What I loved most about today, was experiencing the city through the gogos’ eyes. Our bus tour shows the essence of the city and now they have the opportunity to experience it,” said Christine Tworeck, general manager of City Sightseeing Johannesburg.
Baobabes director Caryl Kelly added: “What a privilege to give our elderly the opportunity to see their city from a different perspective.” Baobabes, a group of women who also aim to help those less fortunate, will be be hosting a fundraising dinner in support of Gogo on Tour on 26 May.
Find more information about our tours here.