A Street Scene Tour

As part of the prize for coming second at Interpret Durban, Stathi Kougianos won a Street Scene Tour for himself and a couple of close mates. Russell Grant was one of those close mates and writes about their trip.


Our tour departed from the Corner Cafe at 9:36 on Saturday morning. We were supposed to leave at 9:30, but two of the original group were spending the day in hospital, forcing us to find replacements. One of the two had degloved his calf whilst scaling an electrified fence. The other was keeping him company, no doubt out of guilt for encouraging his friend to ascend said electrified fence.


With substitutes summoned Sthembiso (our tour guide) loaded the van with essentials (quarts, mainly) and set off.


Our first real stop was at the Elephant house, in the Morningside area. This is supposedly the oldest house in Durban, built in the early 1850’s. It got its name from being frequently molested by thirsty elephants on their way to the watering hole (the house was smack bang in the middle of their path). The current owner of the house, Brian Agar, invited us in and showed us his cannon. It was recovered from the Aristoto, which beached just off what is now Addington, in 1854. On board was all the glass and woodwork used on the house. Brian also showed us a modest but intriguing collection of jars, some of which once housed chutney from a local chutney maker (a direct ancestor of Mrs Balls. True story), and others an early incarnation of mineral water. He also owns an ivory fine-tooth comb from back in the day that has never been washed, which is simultaneously awesome and disgusting.


Ghandi's house


Next stop on the itinerary was Gandhi’s house in Phoenix, which is now a pretty cool museum. Stathi commented on how well thought out each of the installations was, and enquired about a certain method of picture mounting (or something). The walls are adorned with quotes and pictures from Gandhi’s life. We saw the remains of the printing press from which Gandhi published The Indian Opinion. Afterwards we took a stroll down the hill outside the house, and passed a barber giving a haircut to a stoked client, while further along the street children played in a dilapidated two-storey shack. A dude on a brake-less bicycle flew by. He was applying pressure to the rear wheel with his foot in an effort to slow his descent, all the while trying not to abandon the contents of his quart.


Ah, Africa…


Stoked client


Back in the van we got, en route for John Dube’s house, in the Ohlange area, where the Mac himself, Nelson Mandela, came to cast his vote in 1994. We stood in the very spot (in front of John’s grave) where Madiba exclaimed, “I am here before you, Mr.President to report to you that South Africa is free”. We all got goosebumps. We checked out Dube’s museum as we’d done at Mahatma’s place. It is largely unfinished, but one can still find plenty to look at; relics from the old man’s significant life: his mortarboard, his Doctor of Philosophy degree, and a piano on which he played Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika for his choir. We left with a deeper appreciation for this piece of history right on our doorstep.


In the van we snacked on samoosas and chili bites and drank Dew water. We all thought the design and packaging of the Dew bottles was pretty rad. Next stop was Mzinyathi and the Rasta commune, which is in a cave on the face of a cliff. To get there you need to walk about one hundred metres down a treacherous path of low hanging branches and slippery rocks. After a fist-bump prayer we were welcomed in and given free reign to take photographs and indulge in some traditional Rasta activities. Inside the cave the locals have built small stone shelters for sleeping, and areas that look like they might be used for prayers and ceremonies. We all spoke about how cool it would be to start a rival camp in a cave across the valley, and wage wars and such. We left after a few more rounds of fist-bumping and a donation plea, the money from which they undoubtedly use to buy snacks.



Back up the deadly path we went, and off to Sfiso Store, which is basically a tuck shop where they sell everything you need to lead a comfortable rural life. They also sell beer, which suited our needs just fine. We hung with some locals under a tree, but chatted amongst ourselves.



Lunchtime was approaching, and so we set off to find food. The plan was to head into KwaMashu for some Shis’Nyama. This is where we met Andile. Andile has a voice just like Dave Chappelle. Andile showed us a picture of a woman taking a shit in a washing machine. Andile is crazy. He jumped in the van with us as we were leaving. We were disappointed to learn he only wanted a lift down the road.



Our next and final stop was another tavern in KwaMashu’s K section. Here we were welcomed with a flurry of hugs and high-fives. Especially from the women. This all made sense when we realised how much money we’d spent and how few quarts we’d had to drink ourselves. It was a good time nonetheless.


We made our way back to the Corner Cafe and bade farewell to Sthembiso and our driver. This band of ignorant whiteboys learned a lot in the five and a half hours spent in our very own city. A sad truth, but an exciting one too. If you’re white and ignorant of the historical and social gems that lie but a few kilometres from your home, I urge you to take one of these tours. If you do, ask Andile to show you his picture. You won’t be disappointed.


All images © Russell Grant

10 Responses to “A Street Scene Tour”
  1. Matt S says:


  2. Turck says:

    This looks amazing, great article Russ. Oh, and fuck my life.

  3. Minj says:

    So fuckin well written.

  4. Tigga says:

    Kiff story. Wish there was a photo of the dude on his brake-less cycle!

  5. tam says:

    Love this!!

  6. Ry says:

    I have to go on one of these soon. Sick write up Rus.

  7. Amy says:

    So keen to go on one of these tours now

  8. Lars says:

    cant believe we missed it cause we r the stupiest dudes on this planet…! great article and pics!

    @Turck, Barry when r we doin this?

  9. pissingblood says:

    Sick, man… Missed this somehow, glad I found it though.

  10. HAILE SALAM says:


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