Braai Day Photowalk in Kensington

After my last post, the Joburg Expat informed me that Heritage Day in South Africa is also “National Braai Day”. I can’t believe I didn’t make this connection sooner, as this is my third Heritage Day in South Africa.  Anyway, I like this concept; it reminds me of Memorial Day back home. (Dear Americans: Braai means barbeque in South Africa.)

I (unknowingly) celebrated Braai Day on a walkabout through the historic neighborhood of Kensington with the Joburg Photowalkers. I’ve done many photowalks over the last couple of years (browse my photowalk posts here), but haven’t participated in one for a while. It was great to hang out with the old gang, meet some new photowalkers, and cruise the streets of a lovely Jozi neighborhood.

Photowalkers tour the grounds of Jeppe Boys High School in Kensington.

We spent much of the morning touring Jeppe High School for Boys, the oldest public high school in Joburg. I was feeling a bit “schooled out”, having visited two other historic boys’ schools — King Edward VI School (KES) and St. John’s — on my garden tour of Houghton the day before. But I enjoyed the Jeppe Boys tour nonetheless, mainly for the company. I got a few nice photos, too.

It’s a really old school, especially by Jozi standards.

Photographing the Jeppe Boys shield in the doorway. It’s a tradition that Jeppe students do not step on the shield — they all walk around it.

Quick aside about South African schools: I learned on my school tour marathon that the term “public school” has a different meaning in South Africa than it does in the United States. Technically Jeppe Boys is a public school because it receives funding from the South African government. But that government funding covers only a small fraction of the school’s operating budget. So even though the school is public and has to deal with all the government bureaucracy attached to being public, the students pay tuition and the atmosphere is decidedly private. KES, one of Jeppe’s main rivals, is the same. I find it confusing.

Like every old boys’ school, Jeppe Boys has lots of portraits of old men.

Jeppe also has a reproduction 14-century Russian Orthodox mural called the Vladimir Virgin. Don’t ask me why. Read more about it on my friend Jerome’s blog. (Photo taken with Instagram.)

The Jeppe war memorial. All the old boys schools in Joburg have big WWI/WWII memorials because so many of the schools’ students and teachers died in those wars. This memorial is particularly lovely.

A pile of cricket equipment abandoned in the war memorial.  

Stained glass inside a historic house that is now a Jeppe Boys’ dormitory.

The Templeton Family bench. Proud Jeppe Boys since 1939.

After the tour, we set out to climb a big hill near the school that has a Scottish Horse Memorial at the top (whatever that means) and a great view of the city. But a bunch of us wandered off in the wrong direction and never made it to the memorial. Instead, we wandered down a shady residential street and ran into a friendly Kensington native with a cool antique car.

A 1958 Nash Metropolitan. Taken on my iPad with Instagram — the Instagram shot turned out better than the DSLR shot.

There is a mysterious stone castle in Kensington, built in 1911, which no one seemed to know much about. We decided we wanted to see it. We walked uphill for a kilometer or two and found the castle, which looked tantalizingly fascinating from outside the high stone wall. It was locked. No one answered when we knocked. It was very frustrating. We all stood outside and tried various tactics to see inside and get a photo of the castle. No one succeeded. We trudged back down the hill and back to our cars.

Sneaky, Mark Straw. Sneaky.

So the end of the walk was a bit of a bust. But you know, life is like a photowalk. You never know what you’re going to get.

We ended the outing with a braai hosted by Photowalker Richard, who lives in Kensington. I didn’t know at the time that it was National Braai Day. If I had known, I would have taken a photo of the braai. Oh well.

Thanks to the photowalkers for a fun Braai Day experience.

Previous Post Next Post

27 Comments

  • Reply Charles Visser September 26, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    You should have known by the smell in the air that Jozi was braaiing,

    • Reply 2summers September 26, 2012 at 10:28 pm

      I suppose I did know subconsciously. I just didn’t realize it was officially a braai holiday.

  • Reply Eugenia A Parrish September 26, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    I love the connection. I’m wondering, how do you pronounce “braai”? Bra-ee, Bray?

    • Reply Clare Appleyard September 26, 2012 at 11:11 pm

      Bry….like “fry” 🙂

    • Reply 2summers September 27, 2012 at 4:46 am

      Yep, like Clare said. Rhymes with “I”.

  • Reply E.K.Espinoza September 26, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Braai is definitely in the air.

    • Reply 2summers September 27, 2012 at 4:47 am

      Indeed it is. This weekend definitely felt like the start of summer.

  • Reply Kathryn McCullough September 27, 2012 at 1:06 am

    What does one eat at a South African braai?
    Hugs,
    Kathy

    • Reply 2summers September 27, 2012 at 4:49 am

      Hi Kathy,

      Basically anything you can cook over a fire. The most popular item is boerewors (pronounced “BORE-vorse”, sort of), which is a special type of South African sausage. but pretty much any meat will do. South Africans love meat 🙂

  • Reply amelie88 September 27, 2012 at 2:33 am

    Oh that’s funny about the Jeppe Boys School and the tradition about their shield. At my college in undergrad, there was a similar superstition about the college’s seal. It lay out in the middle of the main plaza between the library and the student center so it got a of traffic. The superstition was that if a student walked over the seal before graduation, it would bring bad luck and the student wouldn’t be able to graduate (or something to that extent). So on graduation, students would take pictures of them standing on the seal!

    • Reply 2summers September 27, 2012 at 4:50 am

      Haha. from what I understand I don’t think any Jeppe boy would be photographed on the shield, even after graduation.

  • Reply jackie hulme September 27, 2012 at 6:04 am

    your pix are great Heather – sorry I didn’t make it and catch up with everyone at Richards. I think the school is most probably a model c – where the parents still have to cough up – but not so long ago – it most probably was completely covered by the government and a small annual fee paid by parents. I remember my folks paying R50 for the year when I matriculated on the south coast (it is not that long ago !!!!!!!!)

  • Reply jackie hulme September 27, 2012 at 6:05 am

    forgot to say at the end of the sentence that the same school I went to is most probably charging parents R2k per month now and it is a government school.

  • Reply SamV September 27, 2012 at 6:46 am

    I’ve never commented before, although I do follow your blog. I love Jozi, having grown up there, and miss it so much (I’m working overseas at the moment). This post particularly resonated with me, since I used to live a block away from Jeppe Boys in my youth. Really love Kensington, it has such charm and I find it beautiful. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. 🙂

    • Reply 2summers September 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      Thanks so much Sam! I’m happy to have taken you on the journey.

  • Reply Alan Mason September 28, 2012 at 11:34 am

    lovely collection of photos Heather. i am sorry to have missed out on the walk. would have loved to have been there.

    • Reply 2summers September 28, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      Thanks Cousin Alan! See you soon.

  • Reply Alan Mason September 28, 2012 at 11:34 am

    lovely collection of photos Heather. i am sorry to have missed out on the walk. would have loved to have been there.

    • Reply 2summers September 28, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      Thanks Cousin Alan! See you soon.

  • Reply ckwlifestyle October 29, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Im an ex Jeppe Boy. My heartfelt thanks for the great pics. You really brought back some ver fond memories. In my day the buildings were a lot better and gardens were lush, especially at the war memorial. Here is some input about the castle too for you.

    Kensington Castle, Highland Road
    One of the city’s most impressive castles is in Kensington. Constructed in 1911, it has 10 rooms on four levels and is perched on the hill opposite Langermann’s Kop, in Highland Road.
    It was constructed with stone taken from the southern edge of the koppie on which it stands. It was built by Englishman Samuel Scott Wilson for his wife Kate MacKirdie, who agreed to marry him on condition that he build her a castle. On arrival in Johannesburg, Wilson started immediately on the castle, and the couple moved in in 1911.

    It’s believed that the castle was modelled on the Rothsay castle in Scotland, with help from Herbert Baker’s architectural firm. Its walls are one metre thick, with battlements and two walk-on roofs, and a ship’s cannon in the garden.

    The Wilsons lived in the castle for only a few years, being forced to sell after falling on hard times, according to The Sunday Times of September 1992. Ownership of the castle changed three times, and in 1973 the Van den Spek family bought the castle, and 30 years later, it’s occupied by Marius van den Spek, son of the original Van den Spek, given it by his father in 1982, who then spent his last days living in Paarl.

    The entrance to Kensington Castle in Highland Road
    The entrance to Kensington Castle in Highland Road
    Van den Spek senior never actually lived in the castle, despite spending several years on renovations to the building. He demolished an east wing, and added a huge dining room with battlements and a second walk-on turret. He also put up a “Strictly Private, No Admittance” signon the castle’s wooden front gate, set in the one-metre thick stone entrance wall, to keep the many curious people at bay.

    Van den Spek loves the castle, according to The Sunday Times. He spends a lot of time on maintenance, as the lounge is below ground level and constantly subject to damp problems. The dining room his father added also has a leaking roof and damp walls.

    Van den Spek has removed the “No Admittance” sign from thefront gate, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get to speak to him. He’s obviously a very private person – he didn’t want to be contacted despite repeated efforts.

    The castle continues to impose its grand but stony presence onthe suburb of Kensington, and no doubt still attracts many curious people, hence Van den Spek’s reclusiveness.

    The entrance to Kyalami Castle
    The entrance to Kyalami Castle

    Read more: http://www.joburg.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=946:joburgs-castles&catid=107:landmarks&Itemid=188#ixzz3HWi7fu00

    • Reply 2summers October 30, 2014 at 8:46 am

      Thanks so much for this story — it’s great! I was one of those annoying curious people trying to peer in 🙂

  • Reply ckwlifestyle October 29, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Im an ex Jeppe Boy. My heartfelt thanks for the great pics. You really brought back some ver fond memories. In my day the buildings were a lot better and gardens were lush, especially at the war memorial. Here is some input about the castle too for you.

    Kensington Castle, Highland Road
    One of the city’s most impressive castles is in Kensington. Constructed in 1911, it has 10 rooms on four levels and is perched on the hill opposite Langermann’s Kop, in Highland Road.
    It was constructed with stone taken from the southern edge of the koppie on which it stands. It was built by Englishman Samuel Scott Wilson for his wife Kate MacKirdie, who agreed to marry him on condition that he build her a castle. On arrival in Johannesburg, Wilson started immediately on the castle, and the couple moved in in 1911.

    It’s believed that the castle was modelled on the Rothsay castle in Scotland, with help from Herbert Baker’s architectural firm. Its walls are one metre thick, with battlements and two walk-on roofs, and a ship’s cannon in the garden.

    The Wilsons lived in the castle for only a few years, being forced to sell after falling on hard times, according to The Sunday Times of September 1992. Ownership of the castle changed three times, and in 1973 the Van den Spek family bought the castle, and 30 years later, it’s occupied by Marius van den Spek, son of the original Van den Spek, given it by his father in 1982, who then spent his last days living in Paarl.

    The entrance to Kensington Castle in Highland Road
    The entrance to Kensington Castle in Highland Road
    Van den Spek senior never actually lived in the castle, despite spending several years on renovations to the building. He demolished an east wing, and added a huge dining room with battlements and a second walk-on turret. He also put up a “Strictly Private, No Admittance” signon the castle’s wooden front gate, set in the one-metre thick stone entrance wall, to keep the many curious people at bay.

    Van den Spek loves the castle, according to The Sunday Times. He spends a lot of time on maintenance, as the lounge is below ground level and constantly subject to damp problems. The dining room his father added also has a leaking roof and damp walls.

    Van den Spek has removed the “No Admittance” sign from thefront gate, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get to speak to him. He’s obviously a very private person – he didn’t want to be contacted despite repeated efforts.

    The castle continues to impose its grand but stony presence onthe suburb of Kensington, and no doubt still attracts many curious people, hence Van den Spek’s reclusiveness.

    The entrance to Kyalami Castle
    The entrance to Kyalami Castle

    Read more: http://www.joburg.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=946:joburgs-castles&catid=107:landmarks&Itemid=188#ixzz3HWi7fu00

    • Reply 2summers October 30, 2014 at 8:46 am

      Thanks so much for this story — it’s great! I was one of those annoying curious people trying to peer in 🙂

    Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: