NEWS TRAVEL

Gauteng Tourism activates Vosloo Boulevard

THE TAIL end of Youth Month had Gauteng Tourism activatinga new business precinct incorporating a diversified and innovative business hub known as Vosloo Boulevard in the Ekurhuleni neighbourhood of Vosloorus – with a select group of members of the Fourth Estate invited to experience the moment over two days of fun activities.

The joint brainchild of visionaries, namely, Sifiso Moyo and Siphamandla Dlamini, the new address – launched on June 16 – also referred to as, Indawo yaka Chris Hani, is a tourism destination modelled along the line of Soweto’s Vilakazi Street and boasts various businesses ranging from The Box Shop (which actually relocated from Orlando West to its current spot), a perfumery, a tattoo and piercing studio, a hair & nails beauty parlour, a barbershop, a fitness gym, a driving school, a phone and computer repair shop, a restaurant & bar, a burger joint, a kota kiosk, a car wash and residential apartments.

The boulevard, conveniently located on Douglas Montseng Drive, just off a traffic node linking the old section to the more recent part dotted with a modern hospital and high rise residential areas, is geared as acknowledging the energy of local young people within a place with a strong heritage story (established in 1963 and part of the KATHORUS zone linking neighbourly Katlehong and Thokoza, and once home to the late actor, Ken Gampu) and is funded by the Ekurhuleni Municipality, as well as the Dhewa Group and Mabitsi entity.

Additionally, the hub has the endorsement of the influential Gauteng Tourism, whose Head of Marketing, Barba Gaoganediwe, envisions spots like it as marketing and creative hotbeds for youth owned township enterprises and economies.

For Dlamini, an erstwhile advertising creative and now curator of the boulevard, the hub concept serves as a think-tank driving an ecosystem wherein local benefit businesswise from the linkage between corporate and kasie.

(Thando Mahlangu, the great grand-daughter of the first Mayor of Vosloorus, Clr Fanie Mahlangu seen posing for a photo with a spade used for sod turning at the construction of Marimba Gardens years’ ago).

Moyo, the brain thrust behind The Box Shop from its Soweto origin to its Vosloorus iteration, intends for the digital hub as a platform from which people can ignite tourism. And over two days of travel-intensive activities, the media was to be experience both men’s shared vision in existence.

Day 1

Day one of the promotional junket hosted by Gauteng Tourism had a group of media practitioners whisked away in a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter bus from Constitution Hill of a winter’s Thursday morning to the Vosloo Boulevard – a 20-minute drive pending which invitees were treated to a sandwich breakfast.

Upon arrival and dispensing with friendly introductions, Moyo – the passionate owner of the Box Shop Digital Hub – wasted no time in taking us through a tour of the innovative space composed of shipping containers housing podcasting and online radio studios, e-learning and online facility and training and office spaces. All the while, a crew of young videographers and photographers based at the hub shadowed our every move diligently recording.

(Vosloorus tour guide WoW- recorded addressing tourists at the Chris Hani Monument at Thomas Nkobi Memorial Park, Ekhurhuleni).

Next followed a historical tour whose itineraries incorporated a visit to Katlehong’s Huntersfield

Stadium (a venue which local celebrity, the musician Kwesta, utilizes for his annual Umshubhelo Festival); the Thokoza Memorial (a monument along Khumalo Road in Thokoza which honours people who died around the area during the conflict which preceded South Africa’s first democratic elections of 1994); the Chris Hani House Museum (on whose driveway the then South African Communist Party leader, Chris Hani was assassinated in April 1993) at Dawn Park – in addition to the Thomas Nkobi Memorial Park, which includes a Wall of Remembrance and a Walk of Remembrance leading to the grandiosely erected Chris Hani Monument, and eventually to the liberation icon’s grave where fresh flowers lay arranged in vases flanking either sides of the marbled tombstone.

Disappointingly, the Hani family museum was off-limits to visitations allegedly owing to a disagreement between Hani’s widow, Limpho and the metropolitan authorities as to administrative terms. Supposed to be run like the Mandelas family house in Soweto, our hosts, somehow speculatively, only informed us that the museum would only be opening in the coming year.

The Highveld afternoon sun now bracing to set, we returned to the boulevard for a late lunch at The Burger Yard located much down the drive from the epicenter of the hub.

Started by the hands-on Chef Brian and Wally Radebe in December of 2020, the foodie joint boasts the status of being the first to introduce burgers in KATHORUS pending the Covid-19 pandemic and employs a staff compliment of nine locals. Produced with fresh ingredients including real beef patties, the menu comprises of eclectically named offerings such as the Tower of Terror, a humongous jaw-gaping proposition dripping with melted cheese and wholesome deliciousness served with fries and a sauce on a wooden board.

(View of one of the room at Ekuthuleni Guest House in Marimba Gardens Ext 9,  Vosloorus where GTA guests spend a night during activation).

A party of around 30 filling the joints’ tables, the atmosphere was festive fuelled by a supply of forbidden-waters courtesy of the hosts! Occurring late as the feast did, more food and drink bingeing lay in store in the evening at Café 370 Restaurant & Bar up the drive where dinner and yet more drinks were had late into the wee hours under a more nightclub setting!

Young owner, Diepkloof-raised Thabang Mokoatle, dived into an investment opportunity in 2021 offering a cultural experience to a mature clientele shored by curated cuisine and both a sit-in and takeaway street food statement! On the evening of our visit, the place permeated just the requisite ambience accentuated by a synergy of the company of friendly locals willing to indulge in fun! It was in the wee hours when we departed to our retreat to catch shut eye briefly enough to gather energy for the second day of our excursion.

Day 2

Day two had us awaking at the 26-room Marimba Gardens Extension 9-located Ekuthuleni Guest House for baths, showers and breakfast before departing for the next activities at around 10 am.

Owned by the young Nokubonga Ngqola, it was established in 2013 and is part of a troika of residences which include two others in Soweto. A 3-Star rated hospitality address, it employs a staff of six who divide evening and day shifts and offers standard and family rooms, DStv and Wi-Fi and parking and security.

Nightly accommodation is priced between R1200 and R500.

If others were still nursing hangovers from the previous evening’s excesses, the window for recovery was narrow since a 6 kilometer bicycle tour around Vosloorus lay in store.

(The third stop entailed a visit to a fascinating house address known as Home with Jazz – a joint owned by Elias “Jazzman” Gibunda – a protégé of Gampu – and one whose exquisitely furnished lounge is adorned with a framed monochromatic images of South African and American musicians, as well as the artworks of the Kwa-Thema raised artist, Sam Nhlengethwa).

Back at Douglas Montseng Drive, Lesego Konupi and Bongani Maleswena of Bicycle Stokvel awaited us. After the precautionary formalities, off we were on a route stopping over at various Vosloorus businesses – part of the ecosystem Dlamini alluded to.

Accompanied by able and flak jacket wearing marshals who ensured that motorists always ceded right of way to our peloton, our first stop was at Timeless Design, a leather bag and wallet manufacturer owned by Themba Martin and some of whose products are distributed at another local business within the eco chain.

Thereafter was the itinerary at a clothing boutique with an intimate interior named Sir Anthony Jeans Co. which wares high end denim fabrics ranging from pants, jackets, beanies and bucket hats.

En-route to the next stop, we also rode by the house renowned fashion designer, David Tlale grew up in.

The third stop entailed a visit to a fascinating house address known as Home with Jazz – a joint owned by Elias “Jazzman” Gibunda – a protégé of Gampu – and one whose exquisitely furnished lounge is adorned with a framed monochromatic images of South African and American musicians, as well as the artworks of the Kwa-Thema raised artist, Sam Nhlengethwa.

Then followed a segue at Pum Pum Ice Cream, a parlour located adjacently opposite to Vosloorus Stadium owned by Phumi Mashinini, and offering sweet tooth indulgences ranging from ice creams, milkshakes and sorbets.

We did a 6 kilometer bicycle tour around Vosloorus, as we passed Douglas Montseng Drive, courtesy of Lesego Konupi and Bongani Maleswena of Bicycle Stokvel.

En-route to lunch at 370, our guide, the enthusiastic WoW (his preferred name) let us in on an essential piece of knowledge by having us via the house of Vosloorus’ first mayor, Fanie Mahlangu, whose great-granddaughter, Thando, posed for photographs whilst holding a shiny symbolic spade utilized for the sod-turning of the construction of Marimba Gardens those many years back!

All images Jacob MAWELA (Sifiso Moyo, founder of The Box Shop Digital Hub, seen giving media contingent a tour of Vosloorus Boulevard).  

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