I thought Precinct was an American word. Well it turns out that we have a decidedly South African claim to this Precinct.
When a KZN girl goes to Jozi, the last thing you would expect is to find out she wants to head into the heart of JoBurg.
Are you mad?? But, this is where Maboneng Precinct is situated. Thankfully I have friends who know there way around and got us there with minimal fuss. There are suddenly a whole lot more cars lining the streets and you know you have arrived. It is almost as if the art, music, funky market, unusual graffiti, restaurants and cacophony of mankind draw you in with a tangible excitement.
Old buildings are being refurbished and there are places to let that have already been overhauled and restored for example Hallmark House. Some have been converted into apartments and there is more on the way by the looks of the signs in the windows of buildings. Young urban entrepreneur Jonathan Liebmann decided that he wanted to do something different. And different Maboneng is. It is busy transforming an area and undoubtedly providing hope for many folks in the form of employment and being able to watch their dreams grow.
Adapted Container buildings in a host of bright colours hold restaurants at street level and rooftop. Everywhere you look there is something different to see.
An outrageously hip and funky area is growing.
The name, which means ‘place of light’ in Sotho, is an accurate reflection of all this Precinct is said to be. Southafrica.net supports this by saying “The Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg is a pioneering example of how the development of an integrated, mixed-use community where people play, live and work, can define an urban way of life.”
There are painted tuk tuks parked a few steps from Harley Davidsons. Rasta selling their wares alongside artists introducing their music to those that choose to stroll by. How wonderful to have music following you as you observe people letting you into their art. More so, how fortunate for those visiting to also have access to genuinely creative and artistic goods.
So we continued along the street admiring old buildings and wondering at the history that must go with them while absorbing every bit of the atmosphere like sponges. Our feet lead us to Market on Main. But of course, it is somewhat heading toward lunchtime. Sort of. I am fairly certain it was just the smell of so many types of food that got us going. The Market can be accessed via Arts on Main, where restaurants have patrons sitting under the trees listening to jazz while enjoying their food and beverages (of which there is much choice here it seems). It seems such a great place to meet people from all over and hear their stories while relaxing to the music. You follow a railway track across the courtyard to the Market. It is bustling with scents assaulting your senses in the most delicious of ways. So much to choose from!! From coffee, to mojito’s, craft beer, sangria, handmade lemonade and more. Ice cream and food from a dizzying array of country’s (variety is the spice of life) as well as the biggest Paella I have ever seen in my life. For those with a sweet tooth (I was born with a few), dessert is aplenty with draw dropping cakes and sweets.
On pulling up a seat in the courtyard I happened upon some locals and Capetonians and struck up a conversation. Needless to say, all connected up on social media and we will keep track of each other in cyber space (it seems this is the way of things when you are distance impaired or geographically challenged).
But don’t forget the coffee. I popped in to Origin coffee. Such a lovely open flowing space with counters and chairs at the large windows bathed in streaming sunlight. A large table takes center seat along with more intimate tables spread around. The baristas were friendly and chatty (this seems the way of things with coffee folks) and have some tasty coffee to tantalise your tastebuds, with latte art to please your eyes. Yes, I have finally tried Origin coffee. Truth be told, it’s pretty dang fine!
I then took some youngins around the art galleries with me. It just so happened that it was Johannesburg Art week. So I was privileged to catch a variety of art with the artists looking on or busy at work, like Anastasia Pather.
Art turned into crafts and some shopping. It’s not every day that you find genuinely hand crafted one of a kind goodies. So when I do, it is hard to not want to snatch some of them up. If this is your scene, then you really need to get yourself to Maboneng Precinct.
I loved the whole experience. From the music, to the differing restaurants in just as many styles, to container shops and modified vehicles serving edible dainties, to the mish mash of artistic souls, to the amazing graffiti and street art, to the art displays. I wish we could have stayed on a lot longer, but I am fairly certain I will be back.
If you are looking for a wonderful way to be entertained and educated… check out the goings on in this section of Johannesburg at Maboneng Precinct.