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Underground Booksellers Walking Tour

Explore Joburg's book culture, past and present, in a three-hour visit to the city centre

About this experience

Join Thabiso Mtimkulu of Bridge Books for a guided walk through the inner-city’s literary history, tracing Joburg’s informal book trade and its rich reading culture.

The walk starts with coffee at the independent bookshop Bridge Books, located at the historic Rand Club building, before meandering through Joburg's historic financial district stopping at heritage buildings such as the Meischke’s Building (which housed Joburg’s first bookshop and is now home to a thriving Nigerian chapbooks store), the beautiful Italianate Johannesburg City Library, colourful bookstores dedicated to African political memoirs and inner-city book markets that specialise in Southern African literature.

This is a great way to see new developments in the city and to explore the safest and more vibrant part of town.

Your Host

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I am a third generation offspring of residents of Sophiatown who were forcefully relocated further into the south western side (Soweto) of the city of gold (Johannesburg), farther away from the economic hub of the country.

I grew up where a relationship with books was not common, where there were no bookstores or functioning libraries. My first book was a gift from my stepfather a book titled Without a silver spoon by Eddie Iroh. Ever since then I fell in love with the beauty of stories, later on my first formal job was as a bookseller.

I've been a bookseller for the past ten years, as an activist, poet and mc myself ,being around a place of words has always felt homely.

In the 80's due to restrictions there wasn't a lot of street vendors in Johannesburg. Now today street vendors/hawkers are everywhere and there's plenty of bookselling vendors to serve the appetites of the previously disadvantaged.

Now I'm part of a Bridge connecting people through books.