RE­CLAIM­ING THE CITY

From Diep­sloot in the north to Or­ange Farm in the south, they’ll be out on the streets and walk­ing around their neigh­bour­hoods. Next month the second an­nual #WalkMyJozi will take place, led by res­i­dents of 11 neigh­bour­hoods, who will take oth­ers on walkin

CityPress - - News - VUKILE DLWATI vukile.dlwati@city­press.co.za

Sto­ry­teller Baeletsi Tsatsi, who works in the Jo­han­nes­burg in­ner city, says many peo­ple are in­tim­i­dated by the neigh­bour­hood be­cause they go there to work early in the morn­ing and are quick to leave when they knock off be­cause of its no­to­ri­ety.

“There’s a per­cep­tion that the city is a danger­ous place to be and that you’re go­ing to get mugged. We’ve got Red Ants; the minute some­body mugs you peo­ple are quick to scream ‘Vimba!’ (“Block this per­son!”)

“Our walk will ex­plore un­der­ground li­braries and book­sellers to dis­pel the idea that peo­ple don’t read be­cause a lot of peo­ple who come into the city are black peo­ple,” she said.

Tsatsi says the mo­tive for her walk is to dis­pel the idea that the city is too danger­ous to en­joy, as well as to en­cour­age lit­er­acy among its peo­ple.

“The walk will give peo­ple the safety to walk in the city within a group. It will en­cour­age peo­ple who wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily walk in the city.”

Tsatsi says her role as a sto­ry­teller is to change those lim­it­ing ideas and to cap­ture the city us­ing the sense of magic that comes from tra­di­tional sto­ries. Her ex­pe­ri­ence with tra­di­tional African sto­ries will give peo­ple a new set of eyes with which to look into the city and see its magic, she says.

“We are the peo­ple on the side of the road wait­ing for a bus or taxi, and that’s where the in­de­pen­dent book­seller sits and we are his cus­tomers.”

Her team will stop at book­sellers’ stalls where peo­ple sell amaz­ing books that you wouldn’t find at main­stream book­stores and in li­braries.

At the stops the walk­ers will meet au­thors and sto­ry­tellers.

Art ac­tivist Tshidiso Set­shogwe, from Or­lando, Soweto, will be on the her­itage trail in his neigh­bour­hood.

“We will walk in Or­lando, Soweto, and ex­plore her­itage sites, as well as the cul­ture and sound of Soweto,” he said.

“Soweto has a sound­track, in­clud­ing peo­ple who clap and tap, choir mem­bers re­hearse in the back yard – and you can hear a sax­o­phone from the next street and kids singing in other streets.”

He says his walk will take place on the road be­tween Or­lando East and West which is known by the com­mu­nity as “killer road” due to the lives that it has claimed through road ac­ci­dents.

He says the walk from Or­lando West to Or­lando East is about mak­ing peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence Soweto’s “sound­track” and “about ex­plor­ing the art and mu­sic that we have in Soweto and we’ll get brass bands and theatre groups to join us”.

For Set­shogwe, Soweto rep­re­sents a “mini-Africa” be­cause of its di­verse peo­ple.

He says it con­stantly rep­re­sents hope and change for all Africans, espe­cially the youth.

“I’ve met peo­ple from Kenya who al­ways wanted to come to Soweto and it’s be­cause of the ex­plo­sive spirit that we’ve al­ways car­ried,” he says.

“As you know we’ve lost our mother Winnie Madik­izela-Man­dela and she al­ways told me: ‘Never throw away the art be­cause once you lose your art you lose your voice.’

“As much as we don’t have suf­fi­cient arts fa­cil­i­ties, pro­grammes or fund­ing from gov­ern­ment, we find our­selves in a po­si­tion where the youth’s en­ergy is mis­di­rected,” said Set­shogwe.

He says Soweto could be turned into an arts hub be­cause there are many skilled and cre­ative peo­ple whose tal­ents are not ex­plored.

This place holds the nev­erend­ing hope of the African child, he says.

“There are peo­ple from Lon­don and New York who come to visit Soweto ev­ery day.

“It is a global com­mu­nity that has not un­leashed its po­ten­tial be­cause it was de­signed to be a dump and for us it be­came our hope and home.”

The small four-room houses have cre­ated imag­i­na­tions for man­sions that we would own later, he said.

Salma Pa­tel, cu­ra­tor of the Fi­etas Mu­seum in Pageview, is part­ner­ing the Sophi­a­town Her­itage Cen­tre for her walk which is cen­tered around their shared his­tory of forced removals dur­ing apartheid.

“There’s nowhere in the Jo­han­nes­burg Cen­tral Busi­ness Dis­trict that young born-frees can go and see the ge­o­graph­i­cal spa­tial plan­ning of apartheid and its ef­fect on com­mu­ni­ties,” she says.

Pa­tel says the first of the city’s forced removals took place in Sophi­a­town and the “suc­cess” of the apartheid na­tion­al­ist ide­ol­ogy is ev­i­dent there, which will ed­u­cate young peo­ple about land dis­pos­ses­sion.

Pageview, which was known as Fi­etas when it was still a mixed com­mu­nity in the ear­lier years of apartheid, is now home to the Fi­etas Mu­seum, which will be the second part of Pa­tel’s walk. The walk will start in Sophi­a­town with a visit to a church, lo­cal busi­nesses and the Sophi­a­town Her­itage Cen­tre and will then pro­ceed to the Fi­etas Mu­seum.

“The Fi­etas Mu­seum will show­case the de­struc­tion of forced removals and in­ef­fec­tual gov­er­nance re­gard­ing land dis­pos­ses­sion and how long it takes to set­tle land claims,” says Pa­tel. She says a visit to Fi­etas Mu­seum is an op­por­tu­nity to con­tex­tu­alise apartheid for young peo­ple who have “no con­cept of it”.

“I think tak­ing the the­ory and ap­ply­ing it is a fan­tas­tic way to learn about South African his­tory.”

In Pageview, says Pa­tel, peo­ple will see the Cape Malay ar­chi­tec­ture re­flected in the mosque as well as a visit to two homes of his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance around forced apartheid-era removals. “I will show peo­ple part of Pageview that was de­stroyed and how the na­tion­al­ists built homes for white oc­cu­pa­tion.”

Last, she says, we will go to Fi­etas Mu­seum which is a strug­gle site of great im­por­tance be­cause the build­ing is the only one in its orig­i­nal state.

The house, Fi­etas Mu­seum, has sen­ti­men­tal value for Pa­tel be­cause she in­her­ited it from her par­ents and has been liv­ing there for the past 30 years.

“I de­cided to con­vert the dou­ble-storey house into a mu­seum and res­i­dence and I live up­stairs.”

The walk, she says, will ed­u­cate peo­ple not only about the dis­pos­ses­sion of land but how it also de­prived black peo­ple eco­nom­i­cally.

Ayanda Mnyandu has had a pas­sion for skate­board­ing from an early age. But lit­tle did he know that he would use his hobby to em­power those around him. His magic word is fun, which he pri­ori­tises for his walk around the in­ner-city neigh­bour­hoods of Mar­shall­town and New­town.

He says they will go on skate­board­ing tours from Beyers Naude square through the two areas.

“The idea is to firstly get peo­ple on skate­boards be­cause it’s a lot of fun.

“Se­condly, it’s for peo­ple to en­gage with the in­ner city,” said Mnyandu.

He says skate­board­ing will fit in very well with the broader #WalkMyJozi ini­tia­tive but he’s al­ways be­gun with the idea of peo­ple hav­ing fun be­fore any­thing else.

“The skate­board­ing part is fun and this is just a dif­fer­ent way for peo­ple to en­gage with the in­ner city. Jozi Walks are about build­ing com­mu­nity and open­ing up Jo­han­nes­burg to ev­ery­body.”

He says his “unique” walk will at­tract peo­ple with an in­ter­est in skate­board­ing that will ul­ti­mately open up the in­ner city and ex­pose peo­ple to it.

We will move around the city and get im­mersed in its his­tory and her­itage and how they re­late with each other, he said.

“This will be an op­por­tu­nity of skat­ing and get­ting an ed­u­ca­tion on the city.”

TALK TO US

It’s a chance to see the ‘real’ Jozi. The idea is to get im­mersed in the his­tory and her­itage. What do you think about this ini­tia­tive?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word CITY and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50

The walk will give peo­ple the safety to walk in the city within a group. It will en­cour­age peo­ple who wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily walk in the city

PHOTO: RIANTE NAIDOO

Ayanda Mnyandu

Salma Pa­tel (far right)

ON HER­ITAGE TRAIL Tshidiso Set­shogwe

PHO­TOS: VUKILE DLWATI

NOT DANGER­OUS Baeletsi Tsatsi

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