14 Humans of Braamfontein

Braamfontein has gone through many change since it’s beginnings as a farm in 1853. But it isn’t it’s galleries, restaurants and food markets, that make it what it is. It’s it’s people. They are the driving force that have made it change and evolve over the years. It is through they’re efforts that “Braam” has become what it is today.

 

  1. Street-side violinist, Arthur Seeme, 35

The smell of coffee and the sound of classical violin can both be found six days a week in Braamfontein.

Classically trained violinist Arthur Seeme, 35, plays on the corner of Double Shot, a coffee store on the corner of Juta and Melle.

“Now I’m pushing my break, my own sound, I’m marketing my own sound here in Braamfontein at the corner of double shot.”

Rather than performing on a stage Seeme chose to play on the streets. “I chose the street because it’s free on the street, you don’t have to pay, you don’t have to go after anyone.”

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2.  Natural Born Hooligan, Dale Strime

Dale Strime, who “loves the city and the continent it’s on,” is a drummer and designer by trade from Johannesburg.

His brand Streeks is a unisex lifestyle brand mainly focusing on head wear and foot ware. It’s home  is at The Shop, which has been open for two months, on the corner of Juta and De Beer.

The brand itself, “It’s all the positive side to being a hooligan to break norms and not be type cast into this standard living,” says Strime.

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3. Dumpling Chef, Canny Sbu Msongelwa

In the Braamfontein Neighbourgoods food market you can find traditional Japanese dumplings being made by a chef from Bulawayo.

Canny Sbu Msongelwa, events manager of  Dim Sum Fest, chose to make dumplings to differentiate him from other chefs.”In terms of like wanting to work with food, if you want to sell food, you want to have something that stands out, that nobody else has,” says Msongelwa.

Dropping out of graphic design and becoming a trained chef was a way of figuring out what inspires him.

“For me making these dumplings just takes my time, it just swallows me up completely. It keeps me going,” he said.

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4. “Business,” Himul Dan,  26

In Nurishlam General Trading, a Braamfontein Spaza shop on Jorrisen street, Himul Dan dismantles cardboard boxes amongst isles filled with food.

Dan moved from Bangladesh to Johannesburg seven years ago to do “business,” which has been good he said.

Before finding a shop and working in Braamfontein, where he has been working for two years, he used to work in Benoni.

“People here in Braamfontein they are good, also those students visiting, everything is good.”

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5. Restaurant owner, Shane Durrant 

Mac ‘n cheese burgers with peanut butter and chocolate milkshakes are the types of food found at one of the weirdest take away joints in the city, Mr Big Stuff.

Shane Durrant, owner of Mr Big Stuff, moved from Pretoria ten years ago not to open a restaurant but to study and work in corporate advertising.

After selling his first two restaurants he moved to Braamfontein to try something in the city.

“I wouldn’t have said it was a goal or a dream of mine to end up in the restaurant business but I just sort of fell into it. I really enjoy the restaurant biz working with people I love,”says Durrant.


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6. Vintage Stylist, Millicent Mantsho, 26

In a room of one of the oldest bars of Johannesburg, Kitchners, you can find vintage clothing and jewelry being sold every week.

Millicent Mantsho, 26, came from Kimberly to study film and for story telling.

She now works with vintage clothing (styling and giving makeovers), bringing together live bands for crowds and working with the bands on a photographic body of work.  

“…just like the whole DIY thing, like making a living for myself. You know starting from scratch and not relying on another company to bring you where you want to be,” is why she is working in these areas.

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7. Law Student, Thama Mukumeoa, 21

Braamfontein is a place where students regularly spend their free time partying, visiting galleries and clothes shopping.

Originally from the East Rand, Thama Mukumeoa came to Jo’burg to pursue his dreams. “I want to be great, I want to be successful.”

For him that is by being a lawyer. His currently doing 3rd year LLB in intellectual property, with interest in the entertainment industry.

He has been living in Braamfontein for three years and thinks it’s a vibrant and youth friendly space. “If you’re looking for an environment where you can work and have fun at the same time, Braam is the place for you.”

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8. Homeless, Patric Mpambane, 39 

On the streets of Braamfontein you can sometimes find a man sitting in a wheel chair, begging and giving students money to buy him food.

Patric Mpambane came to Braamfontein 15 years ago because of how bad things are in Springs and now stays in a shelter.

He said it’s been “ok, but not ok.” Last year he was stabbed in the left side of his face and in his back while he parking a car on Juta street. It was because of this attack that he is in a wheel chair.

He said that now,”I want a job to fix the wheel chair. I do everything, but not a school.”

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9. Furniture Designer, Katy Taplin

Graphic shapes and bold colours can be used to describe the pieces on display at the show room of Dokter and Misses on 68 Juta Street.

Katy Taplin co-runs the furniture and product design company known as Dokter and Misses.

The company started out in 2007 at 44 Stanley and in a Brickston back yard. Three years later they moved to Braamfontein to open a combined art gallery, show room and work shop.

But it has it’s draw backs. “It’s vibrant, but that it’s also come with its challenges. It’s a lot harder to have, to do business here in terms of large deliveries and it’s really congested.”

Even so, Taplin has been a tenant for a long time and is amazed at having watched the area change.

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10. Street Chef,  Hezron Louw, 31

“Pump the cheese up!,”is one of the phrases shouted by the workers at the Sumting Fresh stall every Saturday at the Braamfontein Neighbourgoods market.

Hezron Louw, 31, is a street chef and co-owner of the gourmet street company Sumting Fresh. “Basically I just woke up one day and realized the corporate world wasn’t for me so I quit and started something with a friend of mine, which is the gourmet street company.”

Louw works 7 days around Jo’burg. “I love it, this is what I wake up for in the morning, this is what I do,” says Louw.

To motivate the workers as they do taxing work Louw likes get them to sing.

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11. Art Engineer, Daniel De Kook, 28

In a disused warehouse in Braamfontein is where giant LED sculptures and GPS trackers are made by Bush Veld Labs.

Daniel De Kook, co-owner of Bushveld Labs,  mostly does engineering for art pieces (e.g gigantic LED sculptures), GPS trackers, counterfit detection things, networking, the internet of things and etc.

He came to Jo’burg to follow a friend from Stellenbosch on a bursary agreement to work in corporate RND and bank development, which he said got “soul crushing.”

In Stellenbosch De Kook  studied biomedical engineering to build prosthesis, medical implants and body technology. But that now, “We’ve got distracted by doing blinky lights and artworks.”

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12. Security Guard, Godfrey Ndlamini

Standing on the pavement of the intersection between Juta and De Beer street you can find security guards regularly patrolling the area.

Originally from Natal, security guard Godfrey Ndlamini came to Johannesburg to work and support his family.

“I have experience because I’ve been here for three years and I know Braamfontein. I keep Braamfontein safe all the time,” said Ndlamini.

Ndlamini chose to work in Braamfontein because it’s not like other places, it’s clean and safe.

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13. Hair Studio Owner, Michael Chiedoze, 42

Walking into the FM Nails and Hair Studio you are greeted by the smell of hair products and walls covered in packaged hair.

Michael Chiedoze, owner of the studio came from Nigeria in 2012 to look for business opportunities.

He has been in the hair products industry for many years, since having been in Nigeria, with his store being open in Braamfontein for four years.

“So far it’s been good my many years in Braamfontein, it’s been a good experience, it’s been a good feeling nothing to complain about.”


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14. Tatoo Artist, Len-John Sanders

On most days, in the block of 70 Juta, you can hear the buzzing sound of a tattoo machine while having a coffee by the Post.

Trained tattoo artist, Len-John Sanders, opened his first shop, Timeless Electric, five-six months ago in Braamfontein.

Originally he wanted to do animation, “I actually wanted to get into animation in high school but toy story came out and just wrecked it that for me. Because then it went into 3D opposed to hand drawn animation.”

So far he has enjoyed working in Braamfontein because he meets interesting creative people. “So tattooing out in the suburbs you do run of the mill cookie cutter tattoos, where here everyone is a bit of a creative and they all have a unique idea as to what they want to get.”

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