Jozi Tours & Tales

For 12 years I researched and wrote about Joburg’s history and heritage,

for the Joburg city website.

I bring that wealth of knowledge to my tours.

I'll tell you what Hector Pieterson’s mother and sister told me in interviews,

or Mr Kapitan of Kapitan’s, Madiba’s favourite restaurant in the 1950s,

or Baby Jake Matlala, or Tsietsi Mashinini's mother and brother. .


I offer 13 tours.

Join me, and hear intriguing tales,

listen to music of greats like Miriam Makeba and Dolly Rathebe,

or the words of Don Mattera, Bloke Modisane and Nat Nakasa, and so much more!

  • 1. Sophiatown's fall and rise

    Back in 2002 writer, poet and political activist Don Mattera told me: “My mission is to help remove pain and suffering from people’s lives, to remove an invisible chain.” Perhaps his compassion comes from having grown up in Sophiatown, where he experienced the brutality of apartheid first hand, and from where his family was one of the last families to be forcefully removed from the cosmopolitan suburb in the 1960s. Sophiatown shaped Mattera, but also blues singer Dolly Rathebe, past ANC president and gynaecologist Dr AB Xuma, who lived there for 30 years, and Anglican priest and anti-apartheid activist Trevor Huddleston. It touched the lives of musicians Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela, writer Nat Nakasa and artist Gerard Sekoto. Come with me and see the buildings that escaped the bulldozers, hear the music of the 50s, and the eloquent words of Mattera, Huddleston and Bloke Modisane.


    We’ll finish the tour with an awesome meal at the Roving Bantu Kitchen in nearby Brixton.

    We will meet in Sophiatown, (a quiet and safe suburb), and we will drive to places of interest in the suburb, around 5km.

  • 2. ​Fietas to Fordsburg

    In 2014 Adam Asvat said to me: “We were determined. We stood together and formed a community.” His family had been forcefully wrenched from Sophiatown, and moved to Pageview or Fietas, and he wasn’t going to let that happen again. Some 67 families stood their ground against the fierce apartheid machine. Now, 40 years later, he still lives in Pageview.


    Join me to hear about his courageous story, and much more. We’ll move on to the colourful suburb of Fordsburg, and relive the brutal war between Jan Smuts’s government and white miners in 1922.


    We’ll finish the tour with a delicious meal at the House of Samoosas at the Oriental Plaza in Fordsburg.

    We will meet in the parking area of the Linden Swimming Pool, and drive to Fietas, before heading to safe parking in Fordsburg.

  • 3. Nelson Mandela's Joburg

    Nelson Mandela wrote in Long Walk to Freedom: “I realised quickly what Mandela and Tambo [law firm] meant to ordinary Africans . . . This was the reason I had become a lawyer in the first place, and my work often made me feel I had made the right decision.” Our illustrious and beloved late former president made Joburg his home from the age of 21. He stayed at various places in the city, in between visits around the country, until he was convicted of sabotage, and sent to Robben Island in July 1964.


    Upon his release in 1990 he returned to his home town of Jozi, and lived here until his death in December 2013. Come with me on an often emotive journey to some of the places of significance to his life in Jozi.


    We’ll finish the tour with a meal at Cedric’s Café at Liliesleaf.

    We will meet at the Fort in Braamfontein, and drive into the city, where we’ll take a walk, before heading out to the suburbs to find his spirit.

  • 4. Gandhi Finds Himself

    Gandhi said of his experiences in SA: “Truly speaking, it was after I went to South Africa that I became what I am now. My love for South Africa and my concern for her problems are no less than for India.” ​Mahatma Gandhi left his mighty footprint in Jozi, the town he lived in for a good deal of his 21 years in South Africa, until his return to India in 1914. He walked the dusty streets of the town, practised as a lawyer in Joburg, spent time in the Fort prison, and developed his philosophy of Satyagraha or passive resistance here.


    The city remembers this great man in Gandhi Square, where a sculpture of him reminds us that he came here as an attorney. We’ll stroll through some of the places in Jozi he made his own for a short while.


    We’ll finish the tour with a delicious vegetarian meal at Satyagraha House.

    We will meet in the parking area of the Linden Swimming Pool, and drive to the Brixton Crematorium, then drive to various places across the city.

  • 5. Jozi's Old Bones Talk

    The grave of Enoch Sontonga, the creator of SA's anthem, was found in the Braamfontein Cemetery after a dramatic 9-month search. Forty-two school children, aged 13 to 17, drowned tragically in the Westdene Dam. I spoke to some of the survivors, and mothers who lost their children. South Africa's boxing "giant", the late Baby Jake Matlala, 1,47m tall, told me with a big smile: "Height is not an issue, it's in the mind."


    The late Albertina Sisulu recounted modestly: "All these years I never had, you know, a comfortable life." Hear these intriguing stories and more, in my cemeteries tour. We'll visit Braamfontein, Newclare and Westpark cemeteries.


    We’ll finish the tour with a meal at Breezeblock in Brixton.

    We will meet at the entrance to the Braamfontein Cemetery, and drive to the other cemeteries. A guard will accompany us.

  • 6. Soweto

    Dr Malcolm Klein thought that “nothing could penetrate the emotional barriers I had learned to erect”, while working at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in the 1970s. But not on June 16, 1976. A sprawling suburb of over a million people, the events of that day were the first nail in the coffin of the demise of apartheid. Hear what Hector Pieterson’s mother and sister have told me over the years, or what Tsietsi Mashinini’s mother and brother said to me.


    We’ll visit the Hector Pieterson Museum in Orlando West; Nelson Mandela’s first home in Vilakazi Street; and the Regina Mundi Church in Rockville. All have a special place in our country’s history.


    Along the way we’ll visit a spaza shop in Vilakazi Street for a local kota or bunny chow.

    We will meet in Linden and drive to Soweto, where it is safe to walk in Vilakazi Street, and at the Regina Mundi Church, both popular tourist venues.

  • 7. Joburg's Heart Beat

    Stand where the first tents were erected in downtown Joburg by Colonel Ignatius Ferreira, who gave his name to Ferreirasdorp. Hear tales of the people who made the city what it is. Marvel at the beautiful inner city buildings that reflect different architectural styles.


    Join me as we walk in downtown Joburg, in the footsteps of the earliest inhabitants, through to giants like Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela. We’ll stop in at the city’s remaining gold mining stope.


    We’ll end the tour with a meal at the historic Rand Club in the city.

    We will meet at the parking at 1 Fox Street, in Ferreirasdorp, and walk with a guard through the city's western edge. 

  • 8. Constitution Hill's Soul Speaks

    Walk with me through prisons that tell the story of brutality and unimaginable hardship for black people,  a continuation of the dehumanising treatment in everyday apartheid. Hear about then 16-year-old Seth Mazibuko, who was brought in in chains and handcuffs, and who lives with phobias from his prison experience over 40 years later. Step into the hospital cell where Nelson Mandela spent time, and get an insight into his life in prison. Contemplate life for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in a tiny tin shack in the Women’s Gaol.


    Then, let your spirit soar as you enter the Constitutional Court, and be blown away by how this is possibly the only place in the country where every South African can see something that acknowledges their culture, language and ambitions.


    We'll end the tour with a meal at Hill Cafe on Con Hill.

    We will meet outside the Constitutional Court (there is free underground parking on the site).

  • 9. Newtown, the city's cultural heartland

    Mary Fitzgerald led protesters in the square, named after her now. Museum Africa and the Market Theatre are housed in the former market building, built in 1913. Kippies nightclub was modelled on an Edwardian toilet, and named after saxophonist Kippies Moeketsi.


    The Newtown compound was home to council workers, sleeping in narrow concrete bunks that resembled cattle feeding troughs. The Turbine Hall and the Electric Workshop produced the town's first electricity. Hear these tales and much more in a walking tour of Newtown, the heart of the city's cultural precinct.


    We'll end the tour with a meal at the Outie Bakery and Cafe in Newtown.

    We'll meet outside the Market Theatre (park underground at Newtown Junction). 

  • 10. History by Bike

    Come with me on your mountain bike as we explore a little of the Braamfontein spruit, and learn about Joburg’s river systems. We’ll head up to the Delta Environmental Centre, and hear about its role in the growing city.


    We’ll then go west to Alberts' Farm to chat about its history.


    On the way back, we will pay our respects to those buried at the Heroes' Acre at Westpark Cemetery, including Herman Charles Bosman, Ahmed Kathrada, Hugh Masekela, Baby Jake Matlala, and Beyers Naude.


    We will grab a coffee or meal in Linden to end the tour.

    We'll meet at the Junction on the Spruit in Blairgowrie, where there is plenty of parking. 

  • 11. Joburg the art gallery

    The city has some wonderful art galleries, showcasing our many talented artists. Come with me on a tour through some of those galleries, often with a behind-the-scenes look into their archives, guided by the curator.


    Each tour will be different, depending on what exhibitions have opened that month, but they will always be exciting.


    We'll end the tour with a meal at Gaucho in Linden.

    We’ll meet in the parking area of the Linden swimming pool, from where we will take a minivan around the city.

  • 12. Randlords & their mansions

    Discover the legacy of the Randlords - those men who made their fortunes on the gold and diamond mines - in the magnificent mansions they left behind.


    We'll start the tour outside Herbert Baker's lovely home in Westcliff. He was the architect who designed and built many of the Randlords' homes, some of which we will go inside, others we'll admire from the outside. 


    We will finish the tour with a lunch at the place where the Randlords discussed how to make more money - the grand Rand Club in the inner city, where you can easily imagine them standing at the long bar counter over a gin & tonic, or settled in a leather chair in the beautiful library.

    We will meet in the parking area of the Linden Swimming Pool.

  • 13. Livingstone & Burchell in Jozi

    William Burchell was an English explorer and naturalist, and a man ahead of his time. He spent 5 years in South Africa, exploring the Cape interior with Khoi and Bushman guides, and meticulously recording the local people, the fauna and flora, giving his name to animals like the Burchell's Zebra.


    Missionary David Livingstone is a legend of exploration in Africa, where he died. Both men left valuable records of their travels. We will visit two places to view their sketches, notebooks and letters. A rare privilege. 


    We'll end the tour with a meal at Gaucho in Linden.

    We will meet in the parking area of the Linden Swimming Pool.

  • 14. Suburbs by bike

    Take to the streets on your bike in the quiet suburbs of Westcliff, Parktown, Houghton and Parkview, as we consider the history, architecture and personalities of these early Joburg suburbs.


    It's a leisurely 30km ride with a few hills and awesome views - a great way to start a day. 


    We'll stop along the way for a coffee.

    We will meet at Marshall’s Craft Eatery in Emmarentia

Thank you for a fabulous day of exploring in Joburg. We loved our time with you and the curation of Art Africa, Kim Sacks Gallery and Thunder Walker. We can’t imagine having found all of those opportunities on our own in a day and thoroughly enjoyed the gallerists & curator input as well as your own and a fantastic traditional lunch in such a charming  setting. We very much wanted a unique experience that allowed us the opportunity to combine our interests with history of place and culture and your tour certainly captured all of that. We look forward to sharing your name as a resource for others visiting and send you an enormous hug! 


Thank you, 

Kelly & Miguel

Vermont, USA 

What they said

Please email me below for bookings and prices.


Tours are between 3 to 4 hours. Tours can be custom-designed to suit your needs.


As always, it is wise to leave valuables at home.

And the usual rules apply: comfortable walking shoes, water, a hat and sunscreen.

Get in touch 

Johannesburg, South Africa