Category: Travel

Soweto Diary

“In judging our progress as individuals, we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education… but internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being: humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve your fellow men – qualities within reach of every human soul.” – Nelson Mandela, 1977.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me explore Soweto a short while back with my friend Idil while she came to visit in December, which now seems like aaaages ago.

 

We started off at 8115 Vilakazi St, Orlando West which was Mandela’s house before he was arrested and imprisoned for 27 years. The humble red brick house is a must visit if you’re exploring Johannesburg, not just because of the history but also to experience the rich culture that is Soweto.

Soweto’s vibrance comes out in how the people hang out on the street, playing music, roasting meat and talking. Children and performers give a show on the pavements with their dances and songs. There are souvenir vendors all along the streets displaying their wares at a fair price. In that sense, it’s not like Kenya where I can haggle for a better price for close to ten minutes at the Maasai Market. I truly do miss Nairobi, Nairobae as the cool kids on Instagram would say.

In some ways, Soweto does feel like home. In its realness, it’s people and the sense of community.

 

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How gorgeous is Idil?!! MashaAllah!

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On display in the house are Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela’s accolades, awards and honorary degrees. Most of the awards were actually Mama Winnie’s, she went on to fight for freedom while her husband was imprisoned until the last minute when apartheid was abolished.

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Courage..

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Liberation..

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We walked up Vilakazi Street and managed to get a spectacular view of Soweto and The Orlando Towers. We immediately decided, on complete impulse, to try something different from our usual art gallery, museum, chilled type of vibe and instead be crazy and go bungee jumping or free falling at the Orlando Towers just fifteen minutes away.

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They sent us videos of us free falling and it’s hilarious! You can see the exact moment shock takes over when I realized he’d released the buckle and I was falling down 100 metres onto a not so inflated bouncing castle. Unforgettable.

Hope I’ve convinced you to visit Soweto!

xx

Market on Main

Maboneng, it’s always a pleasure. You’ve never let me down.

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A few Sundays ago, my friend Idil and I sauntered over to Market on Main, a dream vibey space in the heart of Maboneng.

We’d started the day off a little bummed out that we couldn’t go to the Neighbourgoods Market as we wished to, turned out it only opens on Saturday. The idea was to head over to Maboneng as we figured out our next move, only to walk along the art-filled streets, from jewellery and clothing to live dance and vocal performances, drawing us to Market on Main, which – get this – opens only on Sundays.

What great luck.

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The pursuit of beautiful photos can often lead to awkward social situations – I’ve had to learn how to pose quick-fast and know what my best angles are.

One such awkward social situation at first, later turned out to be a lovely encounter. I was busy posing and shooting photos at a cute little shop’s stoop when the owner, Mary, walked up to me, perhaps intrigued or most probably concerned about this girl making strange movements at her shop entrance. We ended up chatting and when asked where I was from, I proudly responded in my best Nairobian accent. “Me I’m from Nairobi, Kenya”. “Wacha! (Stop!) Ata mimi pia ni mKenya!”

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If you pass by Market on Main, drop by Mary’s store HelloAfrica. It’s so wonderful to run into someone from home you can connect with. A few Swahili words here and there can be the little boost your day needs. Also, you’re sure to find something cute or quirky that will tickle your fancy.

Reclaimed lofts characterized by the rustic unfinished decor, give off an old school hippie vibe. Coupled with different kinds of people, products on display, sounds and smells, the Market is a great Sunday plan.

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You get to see unique views of Maboneng from fire escape staircases and balconies upstairs, and appreciate its regeneration as an urban space.

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Location: Arts on Main, Maboneng.

Open on Sundays from 10 am – 3 pm.

Freedom Park, //hapo Museum

Location: Freedom Park, //hapo Museum.

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“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela

I recently took a trip to Freedom Park, //hapo Museum in Pretoria which is about an hour drive away from Sandton, Johannesburg. The architecture of the place is nothing short of genius – every single corner had a character of its own expressing itself in materials and landscaping. Such designs reignite my passion for architecture, it all feels so fluid and.. perfect, just as nature is.

I mean, I visited the Museum and it inspired me to add sketches to this post! To me, this is enough evidence of why it’s so important to feed your mind and soul with experiences that move you to be a better version of yourself.

And what better way to enrich your mind and soul by learning about your history as an African?

The stories I read on the displays inside the museum were phenomenal to say the least. With objects collected from ancient times and distant lands all over the African continent, the realization that history was a few feet from my grasp left me with goose pimples the whole time I was inside. I picked up a few interesting facts about African history, from Ancient Ghana, Timbuktu/ Mali to Egypt when it was known as Nubia. And most of all, the struggle for freedom in South Africa has left me humbled. Spaces like these are so important as they remind us of our history, and make us realize how important it is to always treat each other with love and dignity.

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Also, am I not killing these photos?! I’ve never experimented as much with black and white photography until this post.

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Once I was done with the displays inside the museum, a walk around the grounds revealed gorgeous vistas of Pretoria. The building is just as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside.

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I posted on my Insta stories that this is the best museum I’ve been to so far. It’s not just about the physical space but the stories the building carried inside it, I think it’s a must visit for anyone traveling to Pretoria.