Parkwood is one of those suburbs in Johannesburg that has everything going for it. It’s virtually in the midst of what makes Joburg tick. It lies between the two major roads of Jan Smuts Avenue and Oxford Road, meaning easy access to just about anywhere in the north of Jozi, including Rosebank and Sandton. Being so close to all the buzz, has however not disturbed its peacefulness. It must be the leafy trees and the focus on culture and good food that helps a feeling of quiet calm to prevail here.
The Goethe-Institut is the cultural institute of Germany with a global outreach. You will find Goethe Institutes in most major countries around the world. In South Africa, the Goethe Institute is in The Parks, in Parkwood, Johannesburg. The Cultural Programme Department at the Institute focuses on the visual arts, music, dance, film, drama and literature. They work with South African artists as well as international artists, staging some extraordinary exhibitions and shows. The idea behind their cultural programme is to strengthen the dialogue between Pan African and European citizens. A lot of the work done is not just with South Africans, but Africans from all over the continent.
An international show currently features Ghanaian photographer Eric Gyamfia’s series on queer life in Ghana. The theme, Just Like Us: Constellations, encourages dialogue around sexuality and the presence of non-heteronormative members in society. It is definitely a must-visit for those of us who like to question prevalent societal perceptions.
The Goethe-Institut has a reading room, a tea room and a library. They are very involved with teaching, more specifically teaching German, but also in encouraging writers, authors and teachers to use the space for research, writing and education. Recently launched, is Literary Crossroads, a series of talks where South African writers meet colleagues from all over the continent to discuss trends, topics and themes prevalent in their literatures today.
Many of our Johannesburg Guesthouses are in The Parks too, and a visit to The Goethe-Institut makes perfect sense. One such guesthouse is ilali House, also situated in Parkwood. Their decor is iconic – you have to visit their website to see for yourself. They offer six rooms with luxurious bathrooms and special touches such as freshly ground coffee, fresh flowers and a selection of local and international magazines.
By the way, the Goethe Institute and ilali House are also close to The Park Café, a quaint little café in The Park Centre in Parkwood. Their food is freshly prepared daily, with their chicken, eggs and bacon 100% organic.