PHOTOS: One Day in the Life of Johannesburg. A South African Expat Explores

Designer, photographer, chef and ideas man Bruce Marais, a born-and-bred Capetonian who now lives in Morocco, had heard all the stories about Johannesburg. So when friends encouraged him to go take a look, he didn’t really know what to expect. Led through downtown and its fringes by Kennedy Tembo, Bruce was taken aback – in a very good way. He was inspired to take numerous photographs, and below you will find a sample of them all.

“The only expectation I had of Johannesburg was to get mugged, but I couldn’t be more wrong. Joburg (or Jozi) is a friendly, vibrant city, bursting with possibility. The inner city needs a bit of a cleanup but architecturally it has so much potential. If they could only get those crime stats down, Jozi could become a top tourist destination.”

Links to the tours and places mentioned in the story are at the bottom.

Waiting for the Gautrain to go from O.R. Tambo International to Rosebank.
The View, one of the heritage homes on the Parktown Ridge dating back to the Randlords. See below for some interior pics. “The place where the Culinan diamond (biggest in the world) lived for 40 years.,” writes Bruce.
Inside The View.

Says Bruce, “The best way to see Johannesburg is with a local, and no one better to show you around than Kennedy Welani Tembo. He knows everyone and everyone loves him.”


The city is full of graffiti, and often attracts overseas artists to add to the incredible work being done by locals.
Hillbrow Tower, which with Brixton Tower and Ponte City, have become identifiers of the Joburg skyline as much as the Opera House has in Sydney.
“Happy family in Hillbrow.”
Writes Bruce, “I got out in this ‘dangerous’ part of town” – Hillbrow – “but people were so damn nice. I think traveling is also about your own attitude.”
Bruce with Samir Kabbaj and Kennedy. “The best way to see Jozi is with a local, and no one better to show you around than Kennedy Welani Tembo. He’s been doing private tours around Johannesburg for 15 years.”
Inside the core of Ponte. Looking up 55 floors.
The recently opened Victoria Yards, east of downtown, was an old steam laundry complex and later numerous chopshops. Today it’s a warren of studios for artists, eateries, and cafes, interspersed with gardens of flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs.
A tableau of art at Victoria Yards.
The shoes of artist Ayanda Mabulu, who has a studio in Victoria Yards.

Driveline, an apartment building made of containers in Maboneng, was designed by Lot-ek in New York.
The former Maritime House, Loveday Street.
The famous Rand Club, started in 1887, in its third incarnation, built in 1904. Sumptuous inside, the members-only club (open to nonmembers for lunch and dinner in its gorgeous bar) has recently added the James Findlay antiquarian bookstore and overnight suites.
Inside the Rand Club.
A portrait of Nelson Mandela by John Meyer in the Rand Club.
The gorgeous Town Hall, now offices for the Gaunteng administration, dates back to 1912.
The artchitecture downtown never fails to surprise visitors, who don’t expect this kind of wealth of designs. This Art Deco beauty, Ansteys, began life in 1937 as a department store and is now an apartment building.
The view of the city centre from Ansteys rooftop.
Police officers at one of the Rea Vaya bus stations. The public transport system in the city, with Rea Vaya and Metrobus buses and the Gautrain, is worth trying.
The well-known headquarters of Anglo American on Main Street.
Inside the Mad Giant brewery and restaurant at Urbanologi, 1 Fox Street.

For tours by Kennedy Tembo, contact Micro-Adventure Tours

For more information about the Rand Club. Remember, if you want to have a drink or meal there, the club has a dress code.