Creativity in Africa
As part of our commitment to creativity and conservation, we bring you the first of a series of interviews with Africa’s hard working creators and entrepreneurs.
Maboneng accommodation creator, Bheki Dube is committed and passionate about creativity and tourism, rejuvenation, city heritages and millennials.
His passion has seen him create some fantastic budget accommodation and the brilliant Mainstreetwalks for curious urbanites. Both have been a hit and will see him expand across Africa.
We sat down with Bheki to chat about all things creative and tourism here in the city of Johannesburg.
Q: How did you get into tourism as a skate boarder and photographer?
Back in 2011 I was approached by a patron of Bioscope when I worked in the Maboneng Precinct and asked to run tours that showcased the city. The patron, Greg Solick had a vision to showcase the inner city that is never seen by tourists and even local Joburgers. It was to allow them to connect with the inner workings of a vibrant city. Greg needed someone who was ‘on the inside’ so to speak and I had to say yes. I did a six week tourism course to prepare myself, I read as much as I could about Johannesburg, added photography into the tour because it was my passion and soon my tour patrons were walking away with a great experience, wonderful stories and artistic photos of themselves in the heart of the city of gold.
What’s important is when you are in the right place at the right time and offered a great opportunity, grab it with both hands. My skills, knowledge and love of Johannesburg have combined and now I’ve created something sustainable for myself with Main Street Walks.
Q: Fox Street in Maboneng has already established itself as one of the best streets in South Africa, how and why has this happened and where do you see the precinct going in the next couple of years?
The urban regeneration of Fox Street, Johannesburg started in 2009. At that time, the aim was to develop a creative community and the concept of developing a neighbourhood was born from there. The fact that it is a carefully curated street aimed at attracting boutique offerings than the usual chain stores makes it unique, it’s genuine. The idea is to eventually turn Fox Street into a pedestrian street and expand about 6 more city blocks and densify and increase the number of beautiful places to live, work, play and visit.
This is the ultimate place for tourists to come and explore when they are visiting Johannesburg. And if Johannesburg is not on their list because they are scared, I say come here and let me show you the beautiful Johannesburg and its creative people. This city will surprise and delight you, I promise.
Q: What inspires you as an entrepreneur in the tourism industry here in Jozi?
Being in Johannesburg and also being based in Maboneng which is home to a lot of entrepreneurs, I am inspired by my ecosystem and the different unique businesses that have come together to recreate an integrated sustainable environment. The future of Johannesburg is bright and creativity is at the heart for sure.
It is the spirit of entrepreneurs that can drive the creation of new and exciting products for tourism like this entire precinct, art, sculptures, paintings for tourists to ponder as they walk around.
Inspiration comes from those around you, how you feel about a space and place you are in right now. Jozi is alive with inspiration for artists, entrepreneurs and indeed your guests who visit.