Another wonderful late summer’s day in Jozi – one of those where the temperature is balmy, the sky is blue, the place is buzzing, people are mellow, the value of friendship is more acutely felt than usual and, just maybe, Monday morning will hold off its arrival for a while. Maboneng was this place last Sunday. A friend Barbara and I went to Arts On Main to see Colbert Mashile’s new exhibition showing at NIROXprojects. Barbara and I had both taught Colbert when he studied Art History at Wits as part of his Fine Arts degree, so he has a special place in our hearts. His exhibition shows a real departure from his earlier works which dealt with the cultural practice and trauma of circumcision. In Beast of Burden Colbert draws on the themes and message of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, while adapting them to a contemporary South African context. Informal recyclers transform into animals as they draw their heavy loads, animals part-menacing part-victim inhabit a world of unequal power relations. Colbert’s works are strong, powerful and evocative. It’s a great exhibition.
In the Arts on Main market we found a stall selling Mojitos and opted for the no-alcohol version – wonderfully refreshing and tart with lots of lime, lemon and mint. We decided that although the food market itself was buzzing, we’d prefer something more open, airy and quieter (yes, we agreed we are getting old!) so we went down the street to Little Addis. On the pavement nearby were a young man and woman (presumably from the sign she was Kelly Grevler ) who had been working with a number of children some of whom had been drawing and colouring-in and others who had been playing guitars. Apparently they give these free sessions to kids every Sunday. What an extraordinary initiative and so amazing what people do to make a difference.
At Little Addis we sat on the pavement watching the world go by – some in dramatic outfits and elaborate hairstyles, other pushing prams, some suburbanites (like us), lots of creative hipsters – but everybody with one thing in common – all were chilled and relaxed and just enjoying the public space. At Little Addis we shared the most delicious vegetarian platter served with njera, that fabulous soft spongy Ethiopian flat bread. It was seriously wonderful – best Ethiopian food I’ve had in Joburg.
And as if we hadn’t done enough of a good thing, we did a bit of window shopping including going past the House of Baobab which serves West African food. The inside is a riot of colour with bold dramatic fabrics and large vibrant paintings. A patron told us she’d had an excellent meal – the fish, which is cooked over hot coals outside on the street. And to end off a perfect relaxed Sunday escape, we popped into 1886 Boutique where I found a funky towel holder of a wire-decorated Joburg skyline – just what I’d been wanting for the kitchen.
Close to where we’d parked the car, was a large public blackboard on a wall with multiple entries of Before I die I want to … and I felt an immediate connection with the first response which was …. be young again!!
NIROXprojects is open Wednesday to Friday from 12h00 to 16h00 and Saturday and Sunday from 10h30 to 14h30. Colbert’s Show runs until 8th April.