I’m struggling with this post. I keep writing stuff and then deleting it because I don’t know what to say about Hillbrow that I haven’t said before. I’ve been blogging about Hillbrow since 2011 (that first post was embarrassing though), and I’ve used up all the Hillbrow clichés. I’ve even created some clichés of my own, like “Hillbrow is hard to know.” I wrote that in 2017 and then almost used it as the title of this post, until I realized it’s super pretentious.

So I’m going to (mostly) shut my mouth and just show you the pictures I took of the Hey Hillbrow! Let’s Dlala! street parade.

Girl waving a flag during the Hey Hillbrow Let's Dlala Parade
A girl waves a flag during the “Hey Hillbrow! Let’s Dlala!” parade last Saturday. “Dlala” means “play” in isiXhosa.
One of the leaders of Hey Hillbrow! climbing the iconic Nugget Hill (on stilts).

This wasn’t a conventional parade, where spectators line up along the street and stand in one place as floats and performers pass by. In this case the spectators were the parade; the performers were mixed in with the spectators and also popped up at various stops along the way. Those of you who attended the Brixton Light Festival, which was masterminded by the same brilliant people who planned Hey Hillbrow!, know what I’m talking about.

Parade joy
Parade joy.
Dancers at Hey Hillbrow
This ten-story banner was unfurled during the parade.
Parading past the Telkom Tower
Most of the route was very clean. But we also paraded past quite a lot of garbage, due to the ongoing Pikitup strike and persistent municipal neglect of Hillbrow and other parts of the inner city.
Marching band on the Rea Vaya platform
The fantastic Ezase-Vaal Brass Band performs on a Rea Vaya bus platform. As usual, the marching band was my favorite part of the parade.
Waste reclaimer in the parade
A parade participant from the African Reclaimers. Take note, City of Joburg.
Forest from Exotically Divine at the Hey Hillbrow parade
The fabulous Forest Ramushwana of Exotically Divine poses with his chosen artistic medium: trash.
Mpumi performing on an apartment balcony
Mpumelelo Mcata, co-founder of the Blk Jks and also my neighbor in Brixton, plays the electric guitar on a Hillbrow balcony, observed from both above and below.
Rooftop hiphop
Rooftop hiphop.
Outdoor babershop
This street-side barber and his client were engulfed by the parade and loving it.
The parade marched past George Khosi’s Hillbrow Boxing Club, my second home for more than a decade. After 12 years of training with George (far right) multiple times a week in his abandoned-petrol-station-turned-boxing-gym, I recently decided to take a boxing sabbatical. I’ve really been missing George, who represents all of the best things about Hillbrow for me, and it was great to see him again. (Photo: Mark Straw)
Actors performing Macbeth
A group of incredible actors performed the “Double, double, toil and trouble” witch scene from Macbeth in the middle of a Hillbrow street. It was terrifying and thrilling.
Sentech Croozers at the parade
No Joburg parade is complete without a performance by Brixton’s very own Sentech Croozers. This is the talented Navan Kamodzi. Read more about bicycle spinning here.
Repelling down a building in Hillbrow
The parade ended with this artist from The Cirk repelling — and doing a full-on dance routine — off the side of a Hillbrow apartment building. At this point everyone down below was completely losing their sh*t.
The Cirk
Photos don’t do it justice.

Hey Hillbrow! was a magical event. I cried, even sobbed, throughout most of it. It was just so beautiful and joyous and heartbreaking all at once. This parade reminded me why I keep actively choosing — day after day, month after month, year after year, despite all the challenges — to make Joburg my home.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Gerard Bester and the Windybrow Theatre, Tamzyn Botha and Shade, Daniel Buckland, and all of the other amazing people who made me and many other people sob with joy and wonder during this event. Thanks especially to all the kids, and people, of Hillbrow.

For more great photos from Hey Hillbrow! Let’s Dlala!, check out this lovely article by photographer Ihsaan Haffejee.


  1. Josef Talotta

    I just love this piece! Full stop. 🇿🇦

    • 2summers

      Thanks Josef ❤️❤️❤️

  2. Phillipa

    What lovely joyous pictures! Thank you for sharing this positivity!

    • 2summers

      Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. Albert

    Wow. South Africans’ spirits are so indomitable. Our politicians truly do not deserve us.

      • Lebo

        You article made look at Johannesburg from a different perspective in a positive way especially hillbrow its really refreshing to see such beauty. big ups to you

  4. dizzylexa

    Your post even brings a tear to my eye, what a happy bunch of people.

  5. Barend van der Merwe

    Thank you Heather. Your effort is always much appreciated.

  6. Binjun

    Thank you for your posts, opening up the “hard to know” spaces in Joburg to us. I think many people connected to SA can feel you, and feel Hillbrow, just as I do now, in tears, at this moment. You are writing a visual history book for Joburg.

  7. Ms. Nancy Anne McDaniel

    THIS is yet another reason I admire the creativity of Johannesburg. More people need to come and visit and discover it.

    • 2summers

      You are one of the few who really get it! x

  8. Nicola Jane Brighton

    magnificent. you have me in tears too.

  9. Nan

    Wonderful photos, I too write then delete

    • 2summers

      Glad I’m not alone, haha.

  10. Ray

    I love this post, such an amazing event and I wish I had known about it, I love the person supposedly dressed as a cloud and the pic of the guy getting his “hair” did. Your post completely captures the emotion of the day, probably one of my favorite posts ever! Beautiful

    • 2summers

      Glad you liked it! It was one of those special days.


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