Every Opposite

Zaki Ibrahim performing in Johannesburg

Zaki Ibrahim in Johannesburg
I have a folder on my computer very unimaginatively named «Randoms to edit». It contains a bizarre selection of photos I have taken over the past year which never got edited because they weren’t attached to anything special. These two photos are part of that collection and they finally got a quick once-over in Lightroom after I decided that I couldn’t think of a better subject for my first post of 2013 than Zaki Ibrahim.

Zaki is a South African singer and she is absolutely amazing.I first saw her live in Johannesburg at the very event in Greenside where I took these fabulously average photos. (The reason why she is behind glass in these photos because she was in a recording studio – part of 5fm’s live performance feature)

Listening to Zaki while living in New York always makes me really happy, but it makes me miss Joburg at the same time.

Zaki’s album Every Opposite is available on Spotify if you want to take a listen. Draw the Line, Something in the Water, The Do, The Brave Ones are my favourites, although the number one spot belongs to the most sultry sexy song ever – Conjure.

Happy Fri-yay.

Photo flashback – Nizamiye Mosque

Nizamiye Masjid Midrand JohannesburgNizamiye Masjid Midrand JohannesburgNizamiye Masjid Midrand JohannesburgNizamiye Masjid Midrand Johannesburg
I noticed that I have been getting a lot of traffic to the blog from people searching for the Nizamiye Masjid in Midrand, Jhb. So I decided to post some of the old pics that I took in December 2011 – before I started the blog – at sunrise. The mosque is one of my favourite buildings in Johannesburg, even though it is in the soulless Midrand it always makes me think of magical Istanbul.

Make a point of alone time…although next time maybe not in an eerie art exhibit






I spend a lot of my time socializing and being around people. But as a loner at heart I love to spend time alone, be it driving randomly around the city on a Sunday afternoon or going to read in the park.

Today I went to the Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG). I actually just wanted to enjoy the old artworks and the peace and quiet in the space, but was a little surprised to find out that the entire space had been transformed for an exhibition by an artist called James Webb.

I cannot remember enough of matric art to be able to use fancy terms to describe his work – but it is an abstract installation made up of small installations all over the space of the JAG. It relies quite a lot on sound and it was a very disconcerting experience walking around a practically-empty JAG on my own, hearing all these strange sounds. To spook me even more a lot of the rooms are separated by these cloth hangings as part of the exhibition and I felt quite lost and disoriented most of the time.

I didn’t think I would enjoy especially since I had come there for silence, but some of the installations are really moving. I really like the Prayer, which is a red carpet with 12 speakers, each playing a different prayer from the religions practiced around Johannesburg. I would recommend going to see it – unless you prefer simple art – in which case you might not like it.

Photos are all curtesy of the iPhone again. I have a new camera app that does HDR hence the cool ghost in the photo with the Prayer.

This is the sun’s birthday


This past weekend was absolutely glorious in Johannesburg and all I felt like was walking around outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. However, if you live this city you will know that it really isn’t a walking city. But there is one place that never lets me down when I feel like being outdoors – Emmarentia Dam. Yes, you have to drive to get there, but it is pretty big and usually not too crowded, which is perfect when you don’t feel like any human interaction. (The dog in the photo is not mine – but I did want to steal him).

While I was walking around, it made me think of the most famous of all ee cummings poems – and the one through which I came into contact with in Grade 9. The only thing that was missing was the ‘greenly spirits of trees’ – they were most brown. But it certainly felt like the sun’s birthday.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

The photos below are some of my favorites from previous visits to Emmarentia.





The best coffee in Johannesburg (or anywhere)

Now I know that making a claim like that is basically inviting coffee snobs to rip into you and tear you apart for your underdeveloped tastebuds. This also goes for wine. I will say upfront that I am no coffee (or wine) snob and that I believe people should drink what they enjoy. Having said that, over the fast few years, many cups of coffee (and glasses of wine) later, I have developed my own taste. I now drink dry red wine (which I never used to) and put minimal amounts of sugar in my coffee.

Anyway, if you would like to sample what I think is the best coffee in Johannesburg – or anywhere other than Ethiopia itself I guess – take yourself downtown to Elsa’s restaurant in the Johannesburg Mall on Jeppe Street. It is on the third floor (I think) and like many down-town places, you don’t go there for the decor. Order a  macchiato or traditional coffee and prepare to depart earth and enter coffee heaven. What I loved the most about it was that it did not have any of the sourness or sour aftertaste that I find in some many coffees – even the good ones.

Oh and the food is amazing too. It was my first time having Ethiopian and I really loved it. Thank you to Namrata for taking me. Image


All the revelry in Melville

Melville, Johannesburg South AfricaMelville, Johannesburg South AfricaMelville, Johannesburg South AfricaMelville, Johannesburg South AfricaMelville, Johannesburg South AfricaMelville, Johannesburg South AfricaMelville, Johannesburg South AfricaMelville, Johannesburg South AfricaMelville, Johannesburg South Africa
So on Saturday I ended up leaving the music fete and then coming back a bit later when it was dark. I am pretty impressed with how the shots came out even on such a high ISO (1600 and 3200) although I did do a bit of noise reduction in Lightroom. Once again I am lamenting the lack of a wide angle – think I will just go buy the Sigma 10-20 I have been wanting to buy for months now.

The fête was really cool – one of the best things about it was how mixed the crowd was. This doesn’t happen that often in SA, or even in Joburg, which is still by miles the most integrated place in the country. And it was so great to be in the streets and to wander from bar to restaurant to shop. They should really organise these more often.

My favourite photo is the one of the bicycle.

Style scouting in Jozi

Johannesburg street styleJohannesburg street styleJohannesburg street styleJohannesburg street styleJohannesburg street styleJohannesburg street style
Today Gus Silber (a joburg-based journalist) tweeted about how much style the people he saw at Arts on Main today had. I feel the same about a lot of the people I saw yesterday at the Melville Music Fête – stylish, beautiful and exuding confidence. Here are just a few of them…

More pics from the music fest tomorrow before I leave for Nairobi

Cloudy with a chance of rain

Johannesburg winter sky and rainJohannesburg winter sky and rainJohannesburg winter sky and rain
On Wednesday I was at home, bed bound by a neck spasm, but as a result lucky enough to enjoy the daytime. Lately I have been arriving at work when it is dark, and leaving when it is dark and it has been making me feel like some nocturnal creature.

Wednesday was also chilly and windy – and then the strangest thing happened. These dark clouds rolled in and it rained, albeit for 5 minutes. Still, it never rains at this time in Johannesburg and it was lovely to see those beautiful clouds that rarely adorn the winter highveld sky.

For the arts

Wits Art Museum, Braamfontein, JohannesburgWits Art Museum, Braamfontein, JohannesburgWits Art Museum, Braamfontein, JohannesburgWits Art Museum, Braamfontein, JohannesburgWits Art Museum, Braamfontein, JohannesburgWits Art Museum, Braamfontein, JohannesburgWits Art Museum, Braamfontein, Johannesburg

Saturday was the much anticipated public opening of the Wits Art Museum in Braamfontein – well at least much anticipated by me. After a delicious breakfast, Sazi and I headed there to have a look for ourselves (and went back later in the day with Mandy, Elizabeth and a bunch of other people). I have to say upfront that while I studied art at school, and art history in University, I am no fan of lengthy discussions about the meaning of a certain artwork. In fact, from having heard many such conversations, it is utterly impossible to discuss art in a gallery without sounding like a total douchebag (Go to the Tate Modern in London and listen to people if you don’t believe me).

But I love hanging around in galleries, being in the presence of art and creativity – and the fewer people, the better. Unfortunately – as could have been expected – WAM was pretty busy. It is a really beautiful space – a combination of big airy rooms and small and strange nooks and crannies. The one thing that struck me as odd for such a modern set-up was that next to the artworks they have these laminated sheets of A4 paper in a holder, which you have to put back after reading. I much prefer this to the audio recordings in most large galleries, but it did strike me as odd.

I definitely recommend a visit, especially if you can steal an hour or two during the week, when I am sure it will be quieter. For more details visit the website.

This is the city for making friends


I always go on and on that the one thing that really sets Johannesburg apart from other South African cities (and from what I hear global too) is how easy it is to make friends here.

One of the things you quickly learn when you leave University is that making new friends – especially of the same sex as you – is not easy. Men have sport which creates the perfect bonding opportunity – women don’t really have an equivalent. I sometimes joke that you have to go on friend-dates, just like you would with a girl or guy you like.

But living in Johannesburg I have made more friends than ever before in my life – warm, genuine, open, intelligent and interesting people. This week I was invited to two dinner parties – where most of the other guests I either didn’t know or have known less than 6 months…you would imagine there might be a bit of stiffness and lots of dull conversation about «what you do» – as there often is at these kinds of things. Instead there was laughter and the joy of feeling like you belong in this world, that there are plenty of other people who see the world as you do.

Thank you Jozi for making me feel like I have a home for my soul.