"So, who was this Johannes bloke anyway?" Top 5 Page for this destination Johannesburg Local Custom Tip by CatherineReichardt

Johannesburg Local Customs: 32 reviews and 36 photos

It doesn't take a great linguist to work out that 'Johannesburg' means 'the town of Johannes' ... but who was Johannes?

The simple answer is that we don't know. Legend has it that when Commissioner Carl van Brandis was despatched from Pretoria to proclaim the new mining camp of Johannesburg in 1886, he brought the paperwork with him explaining the logic behind the chosen name of the new settlement but it was blown away from his tent in the strong winds of a summer thunderstorm. And thus, the identity of the Johannes in question was lost, and has been the subject of much speculation ever since.

Johannes was - and remains - a very common Dutch and Afrikaans name, so there would have been no shortage of candidates for the man who lent his name to what has become South Africa's largest city. The balance of probability is that it was named after the two first commissioners of the town - Johann Rissik and Christiaan Johannes Joubert - since they had the name in common.

And whilst we're on the subject of the city's name, a point of pronounciation here. The easiest way to make yourself conspicuous as a tourist is to pronounce the city's name 'JOE - hannes - burg' with an emphasis on the first syllable, a pronounciation much beloved by CNN presenters. It is actually pronounced 'J'hannesburg'!!!

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  • Updated Sep 19, 2011
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Comments (1)

  • kenHuocj's Profile Photo
    May 14, 2015 at 2:29 AM

    Joeys or Jannie se stadium, it is the big city of the hoeveld - is street name changes affecting Joburg

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