The Rand Club in Johannesburg’s central business district has not been spared the ferocity of the autumn downpour. The damp spots on the club’s grand ceilings threaten to bloom. One of the club’s members collects 15 litres of water, which trickles down to the historic building’s lower level — the result of a creaking gutter system not fit to endure the unexpected change in climate.
When the club was founded in 1887, a year after Johannesburg was established, the randlords had not yet gone about turning the city into one of the world’s largest man-made urban forests. The stretch of veld and farmland where the Rand Club was erected was windswept and largely treeless.