Last weekend the Johannesburg Development Agency sponsored 13 walking tours all over the city as part of an initiative called #JoziWalks. The weekend was meant to encourage Joburgers to get out of their cars and engage with urban communities in ways they might not do otherwise. Kids in the Soweto suburb of Noordgesig. #JoziWalks was an incredible opportunity for me. I’ve been on many walking tours in Johannesburg but #JoziWalks offered tours in places I’d never been, and the tours were free. The only bad part was most of the tours happened concurrently and I had to make agonizing choices over which ones to participate in. I eventually settled on a Saturday morning tour of La Rochelle, a suburb in the south of Joburg known for its Portuguese culture, and a Sunday tour of Noordgesig, a suburb on the edge of Soweto that played a big role in the anti-apartheid struggle. #JoziWalks La Rochelle Our tour of La Rochelle was led by Judith Muindisi of Tsica Heritage Consultants and Calvin Montgomery of the Southern Suburbs Heritage Society. La Rochelle, just south of the city center, is best known for Parreirinha, Joburg’s most famous Portuguese restaurant. I myself had only been to […]
I took an Amtrak train from Baltimore to New York City. Upon arrival, I climbed from the depths of Penn Station up into the forest of skyscrapers in midtown Manhattan. I walked to the taxi stand and told the first driver in line that I needed to go to Brooklyn. My cab driver, a friendly young man named Mark, was a New York City original. Mark told me about his troubled childhood, how much he loves the bible, and how he “used to be gay” before discovering Jesus and starting a new life as a straight man. I learned all of this, and more, within 90 seconds of getting into the cab. “Can you hear me back there?” he called, peering in the rear-view mirror. “Move over a bit so I can see you.” Mark spent the remaining 30 minutes of the drive imploring me to read the bible. My guess is 99% of his passengers shut him down rudely (which I was tempted to do), or simply ignore him (which I was also tempted to do), and he was excited beyond belief that I was even listening (I was being polite, and maybe a little curious). I wasn’t sure how to respond to […]
I’ve just finished looking through the photos I took during my six days in Zanzibar, winnowing down the group of pictures that I plan to share on the blog. I nearly cried about halfway through, trying to figure out where I will even begin to tell the story of this trip. I’ve been home for two days and the more I think about it, the more certain I am that Zanzibar is my favorite place in Africa (after Joburg). At the very least, Zanzibar — and specifically Stone Town — is my favorite place in Africa to take photos. As I said, I have a lot to say about Zanzibar and it will take me a while to get all the pictures ready. But here are a few shots, mostly portraits, from Stone Town to get things started. Insanely happy kid on a doorstep. Cat on a doorstep (one of the few dark-colored cats we saw — most Zanzibari cats are white). Man on a doorstep. I love the “Just do it” graffiti on the left. More kids on a doorstep. Doorsteps (and their accompanying doors) are a big deal in Stone Town. Artisan making souvenirs, the old-fashioned way. Dr. A.A. Duchi, a Zanzibari pathologist who […]
A year ago, I wandered into a gallery in Joburg’s Maboneng Precinct and discovered a photo exhibition comparing Sowebo — a low-income neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland (USA) — to Soweto. I was surprised and excited to discover the Soweto/Sowebo exhibition. I grew up in the Baltimore suburbs and used to have family in Sowebo. But Sowebo is a small, obscure neighborhood and few people outside Baltimore know it exists. Who would think to do an exhibition like this in Joburg?
Emily, a friend of mine from America who is backpacking around the world, visited me in Jozi this weekend. The timing of Emily’s visit was both lucky and unlucky. Unlucky because it rained all weekend. Lucky because this was the funnest Jozi weekend ever, jam-packed with quirky art exhibitions, musical performances, photowalks, and other awesome things. Herewith is a recap of the Weekend of Jozi Awesomeness, recorded on my iPhone.
After my photo exhibition, I promised to write a post including all of the pics and an in-depth explanation of how I shot them. I kept putting this off — I felt a bit “exhibitioned out”, and also haven’t felt much like blogging lately. But anyway, I’ve decided it’s time to stop procrastinating. As I explained in my first exhibition post, all of the photos were taken in Jeppestown and Maboneng, an area where I go running sometimes during boxing training. The majority of the photos were taken on two streets — Fox Street, where most of the Maboneng development is, and the adjoining Macintyre Street, one of the main arteries through Jeppestown.
My recent tour of Ponte City, hosted by Mainstreetwalks and Dlala Nje, included a Saturday-afternoon stroll in Hillbrow. I go to Hillbrow at least a couple of times a week for boxing training but I don’t walk around the neighborhood with my camera very often, especially not on weekends when the streets are most busy. So I was excited for this opportunity. Art deco apartment block in Hillbrow.