Joburg Story Telling

The eternal African tradition of telling stories around a fire has not been lost. The environment may be different but the art of oral storytelling has made it possible for our various cultures to pass knowledge , history and experiences on from one generation to the next. Storytelling is a shared event where people gather together, listen and participate in accounts of past events, beliefs, taboos and myths. The story teller creates a series of mental images associated with words. Drawn in to the words woven together with voice and gestures, the listeners find themselves smiling, nodding their heads in acknowledgement and leaning forward to hear more as they hang on every word being uttered.

The Thunder Walker

African storytelling not only provides entertainment, it also satisfies the curiosity of people and teaches important lessons about every day life.Telling stories is one of the most powerful means to influence, teach and inspire others. It forges connections among people, conveys culture and values that unite people.

The Thunder Walker

Inner city tour guides JoburgPlaces offer this unique experience coupled with an indulgent dinning experience about stories of the rebellious city of Johannesburg. Descending into the bank vault through an eye catching red door, one gets a shiver down the spine as you think about all the secrets that have been locked in these boxes.The city that I call home, has fascinated for me for as long as I can remember so I am always eager to hear stories about it. Anyone who has lived or passed through this vibrant city of migrants has a story to tell. From the man who discovered his was adopted when his father showed him the original birth certificate that was locked up in the vault of this incredible building. To the many hundreds if not thousands of feet that passed through this once glass – roofed arcade from the square to Fox street. The building was a typical Edwardian building with a touch of Victorian and Art Nouveau influences. It was one of the smaller arcade buildings in the city. The bank offices were upstairs and the infamous vault downstairs. Everyone has a story to share.

As Charlie Moyo ( the story teller ) mentions the city is now in its 7th stage of transformation. It has been a Victorian shanty town, then fashionable London, when London lost its thrill the city decided New York was the new sparkle and so this constant face lifting of the city continued over the years. People moved out, companies moved out, students moved in and slowly business returned. The life cycle of a city never stops, if only the walls, floors and doors could speak imagine what they could share.

Charlie Moyo @Joburgplaces

Built in the historic Ghandi Square in the Johannesburg CBD , Somerset House , a historic bank building from 1904 was the head office of the then United Building Society. One could rent a safety deposit box for 2£ 2s per annum.In the 1930’s prominent law firm Bowman’s was founded here. At this time the vault was sold off into private ownership and was operated in a private capacity until 1978 when it closed down. There was a “ great bank robbery “ that was believed to be an inside job, when the insurance company didn’t pay out the company went bankrupt.

The Thunder Walker

The building has been renamed the Thunder Walker to reflect the diverse, dynamic, energetic City of Migrants that Johannesburg has forever been renowned for. The name is based on a poem written by Gerald Garner that pays homage to the migrant women of the city. The backbone of the city , these women have travelled from all corners of the country in search of a better life, she yearns for home and when the Jozi thunderstorms happen in the summer time she can be spotted standing on a rooftop. The Thunder Walker has become a city slicker but her homeland still pulsates through her veins.

Fox Street in Johannesburg

While listening to the stories told by Charlie we enjoyed a delicious three course meal served by the excellent chefs. They got the balance correct knowing that seasoning doesn’t define but accentuates a dish , there is a fine line between enough and too much. Time seemed to pass so quickly as Charlie shared impactful stories of the city and its people as well as the history of the building. I could have sat for many more hours listening. But sadly all good things come to an end.

Gerald and his team have made a career out of their passion – The City of Joburg. They are well informed , offer thoughtful opinions, let their ideas simmer with guests and have learnt their world. They know exactly why they do it and what they need to do. This is a trademark of mastery, and they have it.

To enjoy this rich tradition of oral story telling have a look at their website to find out more about this event and the various tours that are offered in the city. If you just want to experience the fascinating building and its vault, pop in for lunch where you can sit on the sidewalk and enjoy the people watching. You won’t be disappointed.