Hauling vintage South African club into modern times


With its imposing columned facade, hunting trophies and oil portraits, the Rand Club in Johannesburg’s city centre is a relic of South Africa’s colonial and apartheid past.

Founded in 1887 by British mining magnate Cecil Rhodes, it was the favoured venue for white businessmen and free-wheeling gold prospectors to strike deals and socialise in the hushed library or at the 102-feet teak bar, reputedly the longest in Africa.

But Alicia Thompson, a black woman born in Johannesburg, is seeking to reposition the club, which has struggled to stay open in recent years, by attracting the city’s “young hustlers” of today while preserving its heritage.

Alicia Thompson, a 46-year-old beauty business owner who is the club’s deputy chairman, said that she had faced “not one iota of…

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