Anti-Zuma protests – when wokeness becomes self-righteous

Lunchtime calls to prayer mingle with struggle songs; a banner in the ANC colours shouts: ZUMA MUST GO. Above people lean out of office towers to wave as we march by; traffic is stopped and a taxi driver yells, “Eish! I really hate Zuma but you’re stopping my work!”. A tiny Indian lady in a red SACP golf shirt tells me she’s a card-carrying member of the Communist Party; her hammer and sickle beret well-worn and snug on her head (‘I got it in Russia years ago,’ she adds). An EFF supporter dances in anger. Afrikaans boere with beards and camo pants hang back, while a tall man wearing a yarmulke walks behind a woman, clad in black from head to toe, her eyes peeking at the action through a slit of material. Riot police stand guard, waiting for trouble that never happens…

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Ways of being, the other, and productive trespassing in Bertrams

Celine Dion blares from a Nissan boot. A man pokes at the coals of a make-shift braai in an iron drum. A little white boy in a torn Spiderman T-shirt scampers across the road after buying a packet of Nik-Naks from a spaza shop. A police van hurtles past, blue siren screaming. A skinny dog pushes its snout into a pile of rubbish. Paint peels. The Jukskei stinks. Children sing. I’m walking through Bertrams, and watching a play…

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A most extraordinary house

I first heard about ‘the Gordon Road house’ through my previous landlord, Toni Morkel. Along with stories about Bez Valley, she also told me about a house that she once lived in. The house, which is located on Gordon Road in a now derelict, forgotten part of the city called Bertrams, sounded like a fascinating and curious place – it was an abode of mostly fun, some pain, and a lot of history. And behind its two remaining bay windows, lived three pyrotechnic brothers – the Taylor brothers – who could bend your ear with stories about art, drugs, and Joburg…

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Toni Morkel – performer & theatre-maker

The first time I met Toni, I was roped in to ‘push the buttons’ on a cheap CD player that balanced on a wonky stool. Toni was rehearsing a scene for a play (The Last Show) in her front room with Roberto Pombo, and it was my job to press play, according to certain cues. I missed said cues because I was completely mesmerised by her performance – even though it was ‘just a rehearsal’, it was clear to me that Toni was a hugely talented performer.

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Walking dogs and treading fine lines

I remember the first time I saw a dog walker in Joburg. It was a few years ago, and occurred somewhere between the last bastions of old, white wealth: namely Westcliff and Saxonwold. I was in a car, and was only able to catch a glimpse of a black man in blue overalls, with two Jack Russells tugging at the lead. The experience left me somewhat confused: did the dogs belong to the man? To me, it seemed incongruent if he was the owner. But I couldn’t pinpoint why…

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Scrap Ink: When form meets chaos

Frederick Clarke seems a little hesitant when he shakes my hand. “Are you nervous?” I ask. “No, no it’s not that.” Long pause. He continues, “The less people know about me the better, which is why I’m apprehensive about interviews. I don’t really want to talk about me, and I’d much rather talk to you about the world.”

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