Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Africa - Creative Arts, Feminism, Film, South Africa

Joburg Rising

Joburg Rising has been sitting in my head for the past two weeks since the film’s opening on 13th July. The film is special because it was made by my dear sister friend Lindiwe Nkutha (writer, poet, photograher and film maker)

The film is a 48 minute documentary called Jo’burg Rising, and follows three men,a beggar, a vendor and a car guard, as they try to earn a living off of the streets of our beloved Jozi


and because, of my little bit of participation with the making of the film especially exploring the streets of Bree and Jeppe looking for shots, asking for permission to film people and places and watching the clips from the first days shooting before I left.

Some props from Rista of Cool Breeze

The one poem I learnt in high school that continues to echo in my mind is ‘building the nation’ by henry barlow.

It resonated anew at a private viewing of the documentary “Jo’burg Rising” which premieres tomorrow (Friday) at NuMetro in Hyde Park.

Yep, we’re all building the nation, one dream at a time. And props to Sokari who contributed along the arduous path of the documentary conceptualization.

I am only sad that I wasnt able to be there through the whole process and especially for missing the film’s opening.


Wally Serote’s poem “City Johannesburg” on the beauty, vibrancy and horror as he passes through the city that is his but not his, pass in hand.

This way I salute you:
My hand pulses to my back trousers pocket
Or into my inner jacket pocket
For my pass, my life,
Jo’burg City.
My hand like a starved snake rears my pockets
For my thin, ever lean wallet,
While my stomach groans a friendly smile to hunger,
Jo’burg City.
My stomach also devours coppers and papers
Don’t you know?
Jo’burg City, I salute you;
When I run out, or roar in a bus to you,
I leave behind me, my love,
My comic houses and people, my dongas and my ever whirling dust,
My death
That’s so related to me as a wink to the eye.
Jo’burg City
I travel on your black and white and roboted roads
Through your thick iron breath that you inhale
At six in the morning and exhale from five noon.
Jo’burg City
That is the time when I come to you,
When your neon flowers flaunt from your electrical wind,
That is the time when I leave you,
When your neon flowers flaunt their way through the falling darkness
On your cement trees.
And as I go back, to my love,
My dongas, my dust, my people, my death,
Where death lurks in the dark like a blade in the flesh,
I can feel your roots, anchoring your might, my feebleness
In my flesh, in my mind, in my blood, And everything about you says it,
That, that is all you need of me.
Jo’burg City, Johannesburg,
Listen when I tell you,
There is no fun, nothing, in it,
When you leave the women and men with such frozen expressions,
Expressions that have tears like furrows of soil erosion,
Jo’burg City, you are dry like death,
Jo’burg City, Johannesburg, Jo’burg City.



  1. I can’t wait to visit. The words of this poem paint a very realistic picture of a modern city. There are some who can’t imagine a “real city” in Africa. I spoken to college educated people who thought that South Africa was just a region and not the name of a country. So, this education is important and must be disseminated. Thank you.

  2. Comment by post author


    Stephen @ Joburg – the city of contradictions – we curse it, complain about it but all the same we love it with a passion. The only city that equals it is Lagos – Joburg / Lagos; Lagos / Joburg. Neither for the faint hearted but both carry the soul, the dreams of Africa.

  3. Like any global city, Joburg is a lot of things to a lot of different people. A land of opportunity (?) for impoverished immigrants from all over the continent, and beyond; a land of big business deals for wealthy (and corrupt) businessmen from all over the world, including the rest of Africa; still a place of ‘new world’ opulence in leafy suburbs like Parkhurst for us Europeans; a truly South African city for all its inhabitants; an increasingly ‘African place’ for its majority black inhabitants. And that’s not to mention the Indians of Fordsburg, the Chinese in Observatory, the recent arrivals from the Balkans and so on…