TG Newsletter: SOWETO DAY


Vesparado’s Soweto Run

Joined by…

Steelwings Club (Midvaal) (18 March 2018)

Those Vespa straddling sons of chaos invited me to join them on a day out to Soweto.

SOWETO: A slum in Johannesburg (South Africa) where blacks were forced to go live under the apartheid era (1963). It was the source of many riots and bombings, but it has come to be what has defined Johannesburg.

At 5am I got a call from Gerard to check if I was still gonna join them? I could hardly hear him over the phone with the rain clattering on my zinc roof. He just shrugged and said they’ll be riding rain or shine…

Having bigger balls than most – it meant I had to get my bum out of bed!

It pized… and pized… and pized ALL THE WAY TO JO’BURG! Two hours of soaking!

In my mind I was going to get to the coffee shop, order the biggest pot of hot tea, and tell them to go have a ‘nice day’.

But as a puddle formed at my feet, the Vespa clan started pulling in and the chirping, jeering and scoffing commenced. I could not miss out on a day of verbal abuse just because I got a bit nat.

Some had a quick bite, but my teeth were clattering too much to consume any solids safely.

We had to head through the streets of Jo’ies to meet up with the Steelwings club in the South. Some of these Vespas could manage all the way up to 60km/h... It’s a strange feeling when traffic has to filter through the bikes!

Vesparados! Combust your generators!!!

We were greeted with some warm welcomes and full carafes of OBS at the Steelwings Midvaal clubhouse.

We hid inside (cause that’s where the poison was), while our horses were hitched to their posts outside.

Dwayne slipped through the crowd, unnoticed.

I asked Brom that morning to bond with the scooters. His reply was…

“What once was brand new, now be vintage. My DR soul gets that!”

“Adam had drawn the conclusion that, of all industries in the country, Vespa repair was the one that represented a higher demand over supply. In theory, the one who would be available to meet that demand awaited a fortune; but at the bottom of his heart Adam doubted that the scooters were repairable, in the normal sense of the term. They were the butterflies of the road, fragile organisms that took a long time to be fabricated and very little to die.”

*David Lodge, The British Museum Is Falling Down*

A quick stop at the Tetris-stadium (better known as the FNB stadium)

We had to push on…

“Hang on Baby-Daisy, this is goin’ get bumpy!”

I won an honorary spot in the marshal brigade. Herding the mopeds through taxi ranks, major intersections and busy spaza-shopping pedestrian-filled streets was a dangerous adventure in itself.

The roads were getting smaller, muddier, and slipperier as we made our way through shacks and streets lined with illegal ‘lectricity connections. Left, right, miss the dog, right, past the Batota players, wave at the kids running after the bikes, right, scrape the kaya, left, sho’t left…

Next moment we entered a gate and all excitement erupted!

Kliptown Youth Centre (

I don’t want to call it white-privilege. I’ll call it biker-privilege…

As each bike entered the gate, the kids would scream, dance and clap hands. The roar of the motorcycles (those that could roar e.g. the Harleys) could barely be heard above the joyous screams.

KYP is an after-school tutoring and personal development program for the disadvantaged children of Kliptown.

Here is Thulani (executive director and moerse friendly guy) with Tami that lead us to the venue (aka Tuktuk leader of the pack)

KYP caters for over 400 youths aged between 8 and 20 years.

“Our tutoring, athletic, and arts programs provide a life to the children of Kliptown not defined by survival, but by the ability to be active community members, to have dreams, and most of all to have hope about the future.”

We were there bearing tjoklit-easter-egg gifts, but what we received in return was a gift of celebration. The kids lined up behind the bikes and sang a song UIT VOLLE BORS!!!

This little guy was proudly sporting his MOTORCYCLE t-shirt. He was so flippen chuffed that somebody noticed it.

The spirit of Africa is endless. We were invited to a teaching class where we got spoiled with a Gumboots dance performance. I’m sure they use re-enforced concrete on these buildings because the volume level nearly lifted the roof.

Gumboots Dance

It is a dance that originated in the first dark mining tunnels of SA. Black miners were not allowed to talk to one another, so they invented the African Morse code by tapping on their gumboots (Wellington boots).

When we left the home centre, traffic was tjok-a-blok, bumper to bumper. There must have been an Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs game on. This umlungu could not participate… I have Sundowner blood flowing through my veins!

The streets of Soweto…

Bafokeng Corner (

For lunch we parked at Bafokeng Corner. It was already buzzing and the fires burning high. Nou gaan ons BRAAI!


In South-Africa we call the above dish ‘Walkies’. They were fresh out of ‘Talkies’…

Plates of food filled the tables: pap, chakalaka, wors, nyama!

Here you are served without utensils. You eat with your hands. To lick your fingers is a sign of appreciation. Katja did it with a flare that only women wearing red lipstick and polka dots can achieve.


I myself, tucked into a piece of wors

For one day black & white faded into shades of grey…

“It's the ride of life, the journey from here to there, living and loving every moment like we have none to spare.”

*Jess "Chief" Brynjulson, Highway Writings*

“Whoever we may be, whatever our immediate interest, however much we carry baggage from our past, however much we have been caught by the fashion of cynicism and loss of faith in the capacity of the people, let us err today and say - nothing can stop us now!

I am an African.”

*Words by Thabo Mbeki*

Ngiyabonga Soweto!



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