If you’re a historian, a revolutionary, or a cultural enthusiast on the African continent, you know why you’ve already heard of Johannesburg. If you haven’t, you’ll want to read our latest city guide.
Happy Monday, everyone.
Summer is over and winter is coming—for those of us in the northern hemisphere. But worry not, because we are taking you to the warm plateaus of southern Africa.
R&K’s latest city guide is a deep dive into the largest city in South Africa. The City of Gold, Johannesburg—or simply Joburg—was once the hotbed of rebellion against apartheid and is now home to the struggle of every would-be hustler, artist, and musician trying to make a name.
We take you on a walking tour of Maboneng, one of the city’s most recent urban renewal projects. The neighborhood is a perfect place to spend a day, starting with a cup of choccachino at a little brick coffee shop called Origin and ending the evening at the Lenin’s Vodka Bar for some, you know, vodka.
Uwive Mungwani introduces you to the official comfort food of Joburg: sweet butternut mash, a spicy vegetable relish, slow-cooked dried corn kernel, creamed spinach, and tenderized cubes of lamb or beef in a hearty stew, topped with a perfectly braised T-bone or deep-fried, golden piece of chicken. It’s called an i-plate, which apparently only means “a plate,” but it sounds more like “this-is-all entirely-for-me-plate.”
Don’t miss this beautiful love letter, by Yumna Mohamed, to a dingy little takeaway shop, Mohideen’s, that serves a grilled steak toast with a magical gravy that has been drawing the immigrant working class since the 1950s. “Friends, you have not lived until you have dipped a buttery sandwich into a teacup full of meaty gravy without shame,” Mohamed proclaims. “Seriously, I can’t stop saying gravy.” We can see why.
And don’t forget to listen to Silindile Nyathikazi’s playlist of 11 essential songs that have formed the soundtrack to Johannesburg–“the biggest city in a nation of dancers,” as she writes–from apartheid protest anthems to late ‘90s dance hits to homegrown hip hop.
And now switching from travel to television: last week we here at Roads & Kingdoms picked up an astonishing television honor. We won a Primetime Emmy for the last series we shot with our partner Anthony Bourdain. It was phenomenal recognition for the creative minds and crew behind the series, and most of all for director/producer Kate Kunath, who has been a part of nearly every Roads & Kingdoms video project from the beginning.
But it was also an incredibly bittersweet weekend, as we keenly felt the absence of our late friend and partner. One thing about Bourdain: that man knew how to celebrate an Emmy, and this year he and his show won six of them, including ours. The deepest joy/pain came when Tony won the Emmy for Outstanding Writing, which had eluded him for years. He was, more than anything, a writer who remained dedicated to his craft through all his highs and lows. It was so good to see him get recognized as such. Requiesce in pace, Tony, and thank you for this gift.