Mandela Of The Roads

June 24 2021, 0 Comments

He is waiting patiently for the green light on an island near Joe Slovo Drive in Berea, inner Jozi flatland. He is waiting so that he and the cars facing east of the city can compete for lanes.

He is clad in blue overalls, at least I think that was their original colour. The pair has probably not seen the inside of a washing machine. It’s also not kind to the nostrils.

Let us call him Tshepo. To many residents of Johannesburg, people like him have no name. Invisible even though they are so visible on Johannesburg’s streets, in its suburbs and even outside its swanky estates.

‘Are you tired. Can I offer you some little help,’ I ask Tshepo. Taking off his earphones, but still not revealing his face that is covered by a woollen balaclava, he politely declines.


An excerpt from I Love You I Hate You by Edward Tsumele. For the rest of this piece as well as others like this, get the book.

Edward Tsumele is an award-winning arts journalist whose work over the past 20 years has been published in mainstream publications both in South Africa and abroad. A Wits Journalism and Media Studies graduate, he is the founding editor and publisher of the Johannesburg arts publication CityLife Arts. Edward has been associated with Johannesburg  for close to 30 years, both as a student and a media professional, and is as much at ease on the streets of Jozi as he is with the suits in the northern suburbs.