An afternoon in Apartheid’s Sin City

On our way back to Thabazimbi from the Black Rhino Game Reserve, I decided to make an afternoon stop at Sun City. Sun City is a casino resort in South Africa’s North West Province and is one of South Africa’s biggest tourist attractions for South African and foreign tourists alike. It boasts a host of awards and the late Michael Jackson owned part of the complex. However Sun City had sinister beginings which I only recently became aware of.

Inside Sun City

Sun City’s was the dream child of South African hotel magnate Sol Kerzner. In 1979, in the bushveld of Bophutustwana, one of the ten “Homelands” created for black South Africans, sprang up casino resort which would become a seedy Las Vegas for white South Africa. With the homelands being exempt from the stringent gambling laws enforced by Apartheid South Africa, the resort hosted topless revue shows, pornographic cinema and all the evils which apartheid South Africa would not allow in their supposedly pure Christian white South Africa.

Gambling Paradise

After more than a decade indulging South Africans in their evils, the end of apartheid hailed a new begining for the resort as they added the Lost City and the Palace hotel to the resort. The Lost City being Kerzner’s ultimate fanstasy of creating a supposedly ruined city formerly inhabited by an ancient civilisation long extinct. The best way to describe it is as follows (from a tourism website)

The Lost City, complete with the ‘Shrine of the Sacred Monkey’, ruins of old temples, ancient carvings, grottos – an illusion of some idyllic ancient civilisation rediscovered. The Palace of the Lost City is undoubtedly one of the architectural wonders of Africa. The African theme is carried through every detail; life size elephants, cheetahs hunting, sable and springbuck, in combination with the Valley of the Waves and the Bridge of Time.

The remains of (Imaginary) ´Ancient´ civilisations

Elephants guarding the bridge of time

The Lost City has as its centre a ‘palace’ of impossible opulence guarded by towering elephants lining an immense bridge; it is ringed with man-made lakes stocked with rare birds and fish, pools, forests and a tropical beach with perfect surfing waves – electrically generated. Lit with the glow of a million candles, the Palace is decorated with Renaissance frescoes, hand-carved furniture, mosaic-inlaid floors and towering columns of false tusks and palm fronds.

The bridge of time

Sacrificial temple perhaps?

The Lost City and the Valley of Waves is a child’s dream playground and during the hot South African summers the resort is packed with visitors, however even today, during South Africa’s winter, people were at the valley of waves enjoying themselves.

The Valley of Waves

The Palace and the Lost City (Photo Credit:

Seeing as I live a mere forty-five minutes from the resort, the novelty has rubbed off a long time ago, though I though Raquel would find the place, especially the Lost City and Valley of Waves interesting. So we walked around and told Raquel about my childhoods at Sun City and our family tradition of spending Boxing Day at the Resort (A tradition which has long since died out)… After our walk about we had a coffee before heading back to Thabazimbi after two long days.

Watched by the elephants...

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