Being a tourist in my own city Jozi – Part II

After 2 years of varying levels of Lockdown it seems that there is light at the end of the social distancing tunnel (I’ve almost forgotten how to hug!). My last post started looking at Jozi’s explorers who introduce locals and internationals to new and exciting (and sometimes inaccessible) places.  Here are several more of these wonderful passionate knowledgeable tour guides.  

Kennedy Tembo of MicroAdventure Tours

Kennedy Tembo used to be in the corporate world where he became tired of people saying there was nothing to do in Joburg. So in 2017 he started Microadventure tours which focuses mainly on cycle tours of downtown Joburg and further afield in the Cradle of Humankind. He also arranges hiking tours to the Magaliesberg and the Drakensberg. I follow his instagram posts with envy and a degree of regret that my cycling days are over!  And to add to my feeling of advanced years I have even joined his guided walk for Seniors at the Wilds when possible. He runs these every Tuesday purely as a volunteer demonstrating his passion and commitment for his Jozi. Highly recommended. 

Kennedy talking about the context of James Delaney’s giraffe on the bottom lawn of the Wilds 

Bheki Dube of Main Street Walks 

Bheki is another mover and shaker in the travel and tourism world with a very impressive history and reputation. In 2008 at 16 he started walking tour company called Main Street Walks to enable travelers to get to know the city on foot and to interact with people and share histories and experiences.  In 2013 at the age of 21 he opened his first hostel, Curiocity, in Maboneng. He now has 2 others – one in Durban and one on Capetown. In 2019 he was named Africa’s Best Tourism Entrepreneur by Tropics Changemakers Awards. I’m ashamed to say that I have still not gone on one Bheki’s tours … one of the many things of my wish list for 2022. 

Lucille Davie 

Lucille is a teacher, journalist and remarkable researcher who has a wealth of knowledge of Johannesburg, its history, heritage and people. For 12 years she wrote on Johannesburg for the city website in a weekly news roundup “A week in Joburg” as well as rigorously researched articles. (Sadly and very short-sightedly on the part of Joburg City, none of these is available on-line any more.)  She also wrote “Jozi Rewired” a monthly column in the Star newspaper. So she was very well placed to start guiding tours in and around Johannesburg and Soweto.  In addition to 2 cycling tours (one of the Braamfontein Spruit and one in the suburbs, Lucille’s website lists the following tours. 

Sophiatown’s rise and fall
Fietas to Fordsburg
Nelson Mandela’s Joburg
Gandhi finds himself
Jozi’s old bones talk (Braamfontein Cemetry)
Joburg’s heart beat (Main street and mining history) 
Newtown
Constitution Hill
Livingstone and Burchell in Jozi

One of the different aspects of Lucille’s tours is that she finishes with a meal at a place of interest near the tour end. When I joined the Sophiatown tour we ended the tour with lunch at Roving Bantu Kitchen in Brixton.  

Lunch at Roving Bantu Kitchen in Brixton January 2021

TKD Tours  

Ntokozo Dube (also known as TK) specialises in walking tours of Soweto’s Kliptown, a very poor neighbourhood which has been disgracefully ignored by municipal and provincial government. Of course with no resources or financial fall-back, TK suffered particularly badly during lockdown but has every intention of getting back onto his feet again and running his tours. Like so many of South Africa’s disadvantaged, he has an extraordinary spirit of grace and gratitude against all odds. When I phoned him recently to find out how he was managing, he said how grateful he was to “connect through the mists”.  To book a tour call +27 73 133 5234 or email  tktours.dube13@gmail.com  

Kliptown: Portaloos abound, no tarred streets and dismal drainage facilities

Dlala Nje 

House rules of the  community centre

Dlala Nje is based in the somewhat controversial high-rise circular residential building Ponte  which was initially a desirable address when built in 1975 but, by the late 1990s, was a victim of urban decay and a no-go area apart from slumlords and drug barons. Given this history, it is not surprising that Dlala Nje, founded in 2012 (by which time the building had been upgraded and redeveloped), aims to “challenge perceptions … through running inner-city immersions and experiences in some of our city’s most misunderstood areas [like Hillbrow, Berea and Yeoville]”. What is particularly impressive about Dlala Nje is how it has directed money back into its youth development programmes. They have built a community centre in Ponte which provides a safe leisure and learning environment of youth.  

The hard copy equivalent of Facebook or the newspaper ‘smalls’  on a Yeoville  wall

Sanza Sandile  Yeoville Dinner Club 

Sanza’s hospitality and cooking is legendary. But be warned Sanza also loves a good story and each of his PanAfikran dishes has a long history and lots of personal associations. You’ll get the drift if you read his interview with the Serpentine Gallery, London.  His response to being asked (in this interview) why he started the supper club: 

It started as a home supper club during my student days. Passing the test of time and pot, and jumping between pop-ups and tasteful cook-outs, Yeoville Dinner Club now dishes for whoever is ready for the bold stories of the Yeoville market culture-vultures. Yeoville is still a buzzing, crowded cultural enclave with almost every corner of the African continent and diaspora represented mostly by the young and travel savvy. 

You can see that Sanza has a turn of phrase and the poetry of food as well as words. 

Don’t know why people look so miserable! Maybe we were hungry and wanting to get started on the PanAfrikan spread of dishes in front of us.

We had an interesting walk through the market (very gritty and not for the faint hearted with, in the back of an open van a fresh load of barbel from the Vaal River being cleaned in the street) followed by lots of stories and a delicious lunch. But, a warning, make sure that after lunch you ask Sanza’s friend to escort you back to your car. When we left in the late afternoon the mood on the street had changed and we had several unpleasant incidents. With Sanza’s presence however we would have been fine. 

Ishvara Dhyan African Secrets        

Another culinary experience is provided by Ishvara Dhyan whose tours include a spice walk in Fordsburg,  Cyrildene’s Chinatown, Ethiopian food in Little Addis in the city centre. Another warning, make sure that you join a food tours and not a so-called historical tour. Dhyan is a better chef than historian!   

The Somalian and Ethiopian quarters were interesting. Of course the usual sensitivity around asking to take photographs applies with the woman here making coffee ensuring she was not included in the photo.

Griffin Shea of Bridgebooks 

Griffin Shea of downtown Joburg’s Bridgebooks runs speciality tour of Jozi’s informal book trade. The walk starts at the independent bookshop Bridge Books (now located at the Rand Club). This is also on my 2022 list and is particularly close to my heart as, since increased poverty which has got even more dire after Covid Lockdown measures, Liz at Lancaster’s pavement community bookbox has been consistently emptied as soon as  it is restocked. This is presumably due to the new wave of informal booksellers. I am still looking for a way to navigate how to make a workable solution for both those who are desperate to make money by whatever means, and those who are enjoy access to free reading.    

Part III to follow

 

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