Maboneng, meaning ‘Place of Light’, is a privately developed urban neighbourhood on the east side of Johannesburg CBD. A fully fledged thriving community, Maboneng is home to several independent retail, restaurants and entertainment venues as well as loft apartments, offices, hotel, a museum and creative factory spaces in a connected urban environment.
Maboneng has a similar feel to Cape Town’s industrial and creative Woodstock but has a distinct Jozi flavour. I can see why it is described as a ‘place of light’ with innovative bright, fresh ideas rejuvenating the streets of Jeppestown.
I had a few hours left in Jozi before my flight back to Cape Town so our phenomenal friend and host, Louise, took Alex and I to Maboneng to explore this exciting neighbourhood. As Monday was Youth Day (public holiday), most of the restaurants, coffee shops and stores were shut but we still managed to explore and appreciate the colourful creative streets.
We wandered around and admired the bright graffiti artworks that adorn the city walls, gates and surfaces.
We popped in at Sir Stan’s Athletic Club where Louise, and her boyfriend Robbie, go to a fun boxing class every Sunday morning. This great initiative offers bootcamp classes, gym membership, one-on-one training, group training, team building and the great basement space is available as an event venue. I had snap a shot of this ‘sharp sharp’ graffiti mural on the studio wall.
As we walked along the ‘Mabs’ streets, we took a moment to admire the walls covered with creativity such as the ‘Before I Die’ black board idea that encourages the public to share their thoughts. I really like this interactive art installation and have come across the same wall in Boston and cities in the USA.
I was in my element with my camera in hand, and jumped at the opportunity to ask locals to take photos of the three of us in front of some awesome street art.
We continued to stroll down one of the iconic Maboneng roads and discovered this gorgeous mural next to a dilapidated building that is being renovated into a hotel. Across the street is the Museum of African Design which, to our surprise, was open to the public.
We quickly checked our watches and smiled at each other when we realized that we had enough time to quickly visit the 21 Icons: Portrait of a Nation exhibition. Wow! What a great exhibition comprising of 21 portrait photographs along with a multi-media presentation of South Africa’s top icons captured by photographer, Adrian Steirn. If you appreciate the Arts and South Africa’s heritage, then this is a not-to-miss exhibition.
There are such great initiatives going on in Maboneng, including an Absolut Vodka campaign called ‘The Residence’. The Absolut ‘Transform Today’ initiative tasked six artists with two weeks to plan and execute five projects aimed to transform the city in creative and inspiring ways. Have a look at what they are up to at the moment:
I’m excited to see what materializes in Maboneng but I’m sure I won’t be disappointed. I would love to return to the streets of Maboneng on a day or evening when the streets are bustling with activity. I look forward to seeing the progress made on redeveloping and reinventing this cultural hub of Johannesburg.