Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Another Day in Jozi

It’s 05:30 in the morning and I’m eagerly greeted by the winters cold breeze as I step out of the door. It’s still quite dark outside and the city lights have yet to conclude their night shift and from the noise outside I can tell that traffic has already picked up. As I walk onto the streets all I see are buses, taxis and cars up and down the streets. Everyone is in full winter gear, going to work, walking hurriedly to catch a taxi or bus while vendors are setting up their stalls and hobos are preparing for their daily hustle and just then… I feel the cold tightening its grip as if to say ‘Hola Joe! Welcome to another day in Jozi’.

‘This city is nothing like my hometown’, I think to myself as I squeeze between three other passengers in the backseat of a taxi. The voice continues in my head, ‘ The hours people get up here to go to work and come back home makes every other place in South Africa seem like it’s an hour or two behind doesn’t it? The taxi fares travel from row to row the voice starts again, ‘bet right now mothers are probably preparing their kids for school and others are preparing for work, in fact I bet Thabo right now is reluctantly going to the corner store to get a loaf of bread so that his mother can send him off with a lunchbox’. Yes…and I’m certain Thabo’s mom has given him the lecture of how he should have gone to the store the night before, instead of playing ‘skop die bol’ until late last night’, the second voice replies. Amused by the occupants in my head. My smile quickly fades as I feel the whole backseat look at me like I’m mental. I slot my earphones in my ears as I awkwardly attempt to restore the backseats public opinion of my mental state and pretend to be laughing at something on my phone.

The criminals here are quite the hard workers and are quite efficient too. They make the ones back home look like armatures. If you happen to be walking outside late, for whatever reason and manage to not run into a mugging, you will definitely find the nyoape boys walking the streets like zombies, they do so in the day too, but mostly at night. You don’t want to give them money, because they will ask for more, until that money is enough to buy them their next fix. You will find homeless people wrapped in blankets and duvets in the streets during the night and early morning all over the city.

Students study, or party hard, or both. Workers work, hustlers hustle. Those who can not keep up fall quickly down the ladder. But I am by no means an expert, see I’m relatively new to this place, and to this independent thing, it may change and improve overtime but for now, if there is anything I have learnt so far, its this. Fuck acceptance, or fitting in. Look to yourself to find the belonging you looking for. if you don’t find it, craft it. Sometimes you need a bit of pride in order to keep it one with yourself (I feel I should start rapping). Use it sparingly though. If you don’t know how to go about something, fake it, go out and find out how. Do it. Until you make it. (I should definitely start rapping)
Somebody told me that you will trip sometimes, but whatever you do, get up and keep it walking. There will be dark days. Walk it out.Even in the coldest days when your only companion is your shadow. Walk it out. until you get to the good ones. Then the cycle starts again.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Underneath The Bridge Lays My Bed. In the alley way Lays My Home

Every morning I wake up…naturally. All while suspicious of a third force that may have messed with the time and made the night way too short, I make my bed and then make my way to the bathroom. Once there I’ll probably brush my teeth, take a bath and prepare for the day ahead.  For you and me all these things are quite mandatory and not at all unordinary. Given, for the majority of women the process may be more complex and much longer than I have described, give or take a few outfit, hairstyle and accessory changes. Other than that, all this is basic and part and parcel of the average Joe’s daily routine.

Gauteng | Sandton

Each morning I make my way through the notorious Noord taxi ranks in Jozi C.B.D to get to work on the other side of Jeppestown and each morning without fail, just as soon you  step outside you are met with a full on attack by the city raging war on all your senses. Loud bus engines whirring along, taxi hooting’s, vendors screaming product prizes at the top of their voices. With every corner you pass depending on where you are, you are either met by a K.F.C’s outlet ‘strong chicken smell or by a strong cocktail of urine, garbage and other stuff

Gauteng | Jeppestown
But while strolling along the city’s streets in your own world occupied by your own problems and issues, you notice something else. Every now and again, every other corner you navigate there are people sleeping on the streets wrapped in blankets and cardboard boxes. This is a common sight in the C.B.D so much so, people walking by are not even bothered and don’t seem to notice half the time. Somehow people sleeping in alleyways, parks and under bridges hasn't become unordinary at all.

Gauteng | Jeppestown
One thing that has really stood out for me during my interactions with some of these guys on the streets is that it could happen to anyone. Their stories could have easily been mine or yours. Yes there are those individuals who have completely sabotaged themselves in spite of opportunities presented to them; there are those who according to popular belief don't want to work. But they make up quite a small percentage of the entire homeless people fraternity. If anything, many work harder than most people I know who aren’t homeless.

Gauteng | Jeppestown
Just taking a minute and conversating with some of these guys is more valuable than throwing change at them.  I believe more than anything these people want to feel part of society, a society largely desensitized to ‘them’. Given some will try to get as much change from you as possible. Some though, were really surprised that somebody actually walked up to them to have a conversation. Take a minute and talk to one of these guys, they will make time for you in their busy schedule.

Gauteng | Alexander

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


My relationship with Jozi is up and down but most of the time I love this city. I am not yet sure why. I’m still trying to decide whether it’s how it comes alive at night or how everything seems normal in the day while a whole parallel world is roaring right under your nose. Having recently moved to the C.B.D, one thing I am quite fascinated about is how the buildings light up to form a miniature galaxy at night. Although this is not at all unique to Jozi, I’m willing to bet my very first salary that it’s one of the best views in the world. Okay maybe I exaggerate. I am biased after all and by the way my first salary was about five hundred bucks, so at least I am a responsible gambler. But Jozi still has one of the best views in the world; don’t let them tell you different.

Night view of a part of Hillbrow. A landscape series of Hillbrow is never complete without the tallest tower in Africa, The Hillbrow Tower. The notorious city is rarely viewed as beautiful or glamorous.

Ever since the gold rush to the Transvaal, Johannesburg has been well on its way to becoming the economic hub of South Africa. The rush hasn’t subsided at all. Peak hour traffic will second me on this. E’mjodolo you find everyone and everything. From Limpopo to Cape Town, every race within and outside our borders is represented in this 1,645 km² patch of land. Okay maybe not every race, but you get my point. You may even mistake parts of the city as some kind of United States of Africa due to the rich foreign presence the city nests. Better yet, there is a dedicated ‘China Town’ not to mention the Oriental plaza.

I have caught an addiction for painting with light.

If you looking for hair. You will find it, synthetic? Stolen dreads maybe? You got it. You want reality remedies? You got it, from a twenty rand banky to a fifty rand rock to a three hundred rand cocaine sack, no problem.
Although for the unfortunate, the city of gold can be exceptionally cruel. It is also a place where starting from the bottom and making it to the top is a common story. It’s the reason why so many of our parents and their parents before them and their parents before that left their homes, family and friends chasing a promise of a better life. Johannesburg is a goldmine, excuse the pun. It’s a goldmine of opportunities for business. It’s a goldmine for criminals. It’s definitely a goldmine for the photographer who can gather enough courage to take his camera out the bag and take shots of the timeworn city.
Car tail lights at the Rey-vaya bus station nex to the City Council of Johannesburg.

As much as the city has its negatives and an ugly side of filth, crime and poverty, there is still so much to celebrate. The media doesn’t do the country much justice, how many times do you see an image like the one above on T.V or a newspaper? When Johannesburg is mentioned in the news, it’s usually accompanied by a picture of protesters or a crime scene. At best you have the government blowing their horn on an improvement or development in attempts to redeem their tarnished image. I am not saying let us ignore the negatives and go on a spree of sunshine journalism. The truth is our country has a lot of improving to do. What I’m saying is that we should give as much a stage to what’s good and great about our country as we do with bad news. This is what this blog is all about.

Its amazing how a slight movement of the camera at the right time can give you.
‘A day-tripper in my back pack’ is my camera, so join me and my day tripper as we put our green classes and stroll through this animate city.