Saturday in Jozi!

I love Johannesburg.  I love its diversity.  You can go from suburb to town, to township in the space of very few minutes and you can get such totally different vibes, people, styles.  I love it.

The other day, a Saturday, I felt townie. Though we had a fuel people strike going on in the  country, I still had enough gas in the car and thought, why not spend it. Off I went to Newtown with my pal to catch the Saturday morning vibe.  There wasn’t one.  We were so disappointed.  Mary Fitzgerald Square, which was once the home of a very fascinating morning market was deserted.  In the park across the street there was a kind of market.  A few trestle tables had been set up and people had put things on them to sell.  It wasn’t exciting, except that the guy at the first table of CD’s was playing arrestingly sensual Jazz, which was impossible to walk away from.  We bought the CD.

Gromadoelas was showing the only sign of life around the Market Theatre, but not the kind of life that invites.  It’s such a shame that the building opposite The Market Theatre is dead.  I remember it in the early 1990’s.  It was fun around there.  No more.  We left town.

As we drove a glance at the gas gauge gave rise to discussion on the strike of abasebenzi.  ‘Let’s go to Alexander’!  I note that even though it’s called Alexandra Township.  No one seems to say that.  Everyone calls it Alexander.  Is that the nations natural cultural propensity for patriarchy rearing it’s last century head?  But to Alex we went.

We didn’t go to the home of the black champagne socialist; the lair of the loxion limousine liberal; the weekend watering hole of the Wabenzi.  We didn’t go to Neh!  We went to Bra Joes’s Chissa Nyama.  We ordered nyama, pap, chakalaka and beer.  I felt at one with abasebenzi, even though the place wasn’t exactly full of abasebenzi.  Abasebenzi were demonstrating somewhere.

We didn’t have any way to open the beer.  I know that there’s something that people do when they have two bottles of beer opening one with the other, but I don’t drink beer and couldn’t figure it out.  Neither could my pal. My pal went back inside.

“I can’t get these open”. My Pal told the guy.

“Don’t worry bourgeois lami” the guy responded with a smile, “you cheese boys always miss a beat in the township”.  My Pal is from the country and sees himself as a former Plaas yaapie who has, over the years, acquired considerable township savvy.  He was visibly disappointed that his street cred was being besmirched much to the amusement of Uguluva.

As I said, I don’t normally drink beer.  But that day I drank it.  I drank it from the bottle and I ate with my hands and I felt very Alexandra.  It’s not that I don’t ever go to Alexandra Township.  I do, but when I go, I go to the house of my cousins.  They don’t hang out in the trendy haunts like 15, Bra Joes and Neh!  It’s simply not their style.

But bourgeois cheese boy or not,  we are all, fundamentally, from the rural via the loxion.


About Tselane Tambo

I share myself in these desultory ramblings. It’s my thoughts and memories; some anecdotes and opinions. It’s an accidental autobiography. When you’ve meandered through these pages you’ll be within reach of a little piece of me. Thank you for dropping by.
This entry was posted in Nocturnal Ramblings of a Mind Unplugged. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Saturday in Jozi!

  1. wisey says:

    Love it! Good writing as per usual, your sense of humour is amazing. Love you always Tselane.

  2. Charles-Siyabulela says:

    Good piece Sis! Very funny!

  3. khaya says:

    tt, this left me smiling from ear to ear. good writing, pretty much enjoyable. a very easy read.
    ps! bro joe’s is much nicer on sunday mornings to take out babalas!

  4. Maggs says:

    Sorry to be off point but I’ve just finished watching Endgame – a film about the dissolution of Apartheid in South African. I wondered what you thought of it, if it was a true description of what went on during those times. Can you recommend perhaps other films that cover SA’ controversial times. And yeah, Muswell Hill is cool. Only last Saturday I went to the children’s bookshop to buy a book for my daughter, and then I crossed over the road to the other bookshop to buy Stephen Kelman’s book Pigeon English, which has recently being short listed for the Booker. Take care!

  5. plaintain1 says:

    Nope but I used to live in the Haringey borough but ever so often I visit my mother, who still lives there, and when I do, I take the 144 from Wood Green to Muswell Hill Broadway. The bookshops are in Fortis Green Road. Sorry I just thought that you used to live there and perhaps remembered seeing them.

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