Joburg has many different areas, suburbs, townships that show different aspects of the city. In order to explore the rougher edges of the city, I turned to an organisation called Dlala Nje, situated in Ponte Tower. DLL Nje works with inner city children, offering them a safe place to play, learn and interact. To help fund these activities, they also organise inner city walking tours. They like to call it ‘submersive experiences’, because you walk with locals in their own neighbourhood; in places that often have bad reputations but also have interesting things to offer.
Yeoville, is a particularly interesting area. It is a community of migrants and has a colourful and vibrant PAN-African flavour. The Taste of Yeoville walking tour started around 5pm. We parked our car in the (sort of) secure garage within Ponte Towers. There were no other guests on this tour, so it was just B. and myself and our fashionable and cool guides James and Arthur.
It is a short stroll from Ponte Tower to our first stop: Yeoville Hill, which offers a magnificent view over Johannesburg. But the Hill is also a place of worship: there were small groups of people everywhere, scattered across the grassy area, all dressed in white, zealously praying.
We continued our walk passed Westminster Mansions into Yeoville and stopped at Kin Malebo, a Congolese bar. At the back of the bar area, you enter an outdoor area (the “village’) with live music and people dancing and drinking. We stopped for a beer and so much food it could feed an entire village. Plate after plate of vegetables, liver and something similar to pap.
From here we moved on to Yeoville Market. Our guides encouraged us to go inside on our own, talk to people and maybe purchase something. The market really gives a taste of Africa, with many rather chaotic stalls offering cloths, dried fish, cassava, yams, peanut powder, books, handicraft, anything you can think of that is African. We chatted with a friendly Congolese lady and bought a woollie hat (it was very cold!) and it was overall a very good experience. Yeoville has a reputation of being a dodgy area and to overcome those feeling of fear, it helps to talk to people, walk around and witness the daily lives of people going about their business.
Our last stop was dinner (yes, the village food were just the appetisers). We headed for busy Rocky Street and entered La Camerounaise, a rowdy, chaotic restaurant with a West African vibe. Plastic chairs, loud music and an open kitchen. Beers and grilled fish, spiced up and straight from the big braai on your plate to be eaten with your fingers and served with chips and a chilli mayonnaise.
It had become very very cold by now so the guys hauled a cabbie and we returned to Ponte in something that used to resemble a car. Once. A long time ago.
Back at Ponte we did get a peek into the core of the tower, which is such a surreal image. Mid-July we’ll take the Hillbrow/Berea tour, which will include the fascinating story of Ponte Towers.
Best: La Camerounaise, Yeoville Market
Worst: taxi ride back to Ponte
Booked with Dlala Nje