Take a walk on the wild side

joburg

Surprise view of the city from the north

Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead is foremost on my mind I’m most of my interactions at the moment. I’m loving the book, and am probably starting to bore the people in my life by talking about it all the time! Anyway, today my daughter and I joined a “walk and talk” in The Wilds with Friends of the Wilds (a group you should really join if you live in Joburg). Besides being a bunch of Earth Angels who have brought the park back from a no-go area to a really well-maintained public space, they also organise a weekly “Walk and Talk” with really interesting speakers. In case you don’t know it, The Wilds is a really beautiful park in the middle of the city of Johannesburg (nestled between Killarney and Houghton) filled with sculptures, indigenous plants and meandering pathways which will surprise you with stunning vistas and new views of our city.

Actually, today’s was a “walk and read” and, in the spirit of Women’s Month, we were all asked to bring along a book by our favourite female author and to read an extract from it for the group. I read from Dare to Lead, a passage about brave leadership, which suggests we should have a strong spine, a soft front and a wild heart. My wild heart was singing in The Wilds!

Walking with us was a group of young women from Lisakhanya ikusasa, a grassroots reading club started in Alexandra by Nhlanhla Mchunu. Nhlanhla explained that as a young school leaver, she decided to look around her township and identify a problem, and then work on establishing a solution to that problem. She identified a lack of literacy amongst the youth of Alex, and she established the Lisakhanya ikusasa Reading Club which helps youngsters, often those who are vulnerable and living in poverty, by giving them a place to go after school to read, providing books for them to read, tutoring the children in reading, giving them a snack when they can, and preventing them from being on the streets which are not safe places. I’m so impressed with this young woman’s work (and the three girls she brought with her, who read to us about Mama Africa, Michelle Obama and Malala Yousafzai) that I would like to try and garner some support for them. If you have access to books written in South African languages other than English and Afrikaans, please get in touch with me. Also, if you have capacity to donate snacks or any kind of food to this group (they have about 80 children three days a week!) please contact me and I’ll connect you with Nhlanhla or deliver for you.

When we finished walking, the baes from SOBAE were selling the most delicious sorbet, and we couldn’t resist. My favourite was the pumpkin spice (with pumpkin, banana and chai spice) and my daughter had the guava. Yum! I love their business concept – they buy the fruit which downtown fruit sellers are about to chuck out and turn it into something useful and delicious. They reuse their plastic bowls and spoons (boomerang, as the gorgeous Thula told me), they are generous in their portions and they let you taste everything! The love Thula and Thando share is so evident in their Sobae sorbets. I think you should consider inviting them to your next event.

I’ve enjoyed other walks in parks around Joburg recently. Emmarentia is close to home, and our little dog loves it there. We generally go in the late afternoon when others are also walking their dogs. There is a real sense of camaraderie and community. The dogs and the humans come in all shapes and sizes, which is just wonderful.

bench

I’ve been doing Park Runs (well, walks) at Albert’s Farm for a few months. If you’re not yet familiar with the ParkRun concept, every Saturday morning at parks around the country (and world, I believe), people come together to run or walk 5kms at their own pace. Dogs are welcome (thus a happy little Lucy) and besides the fresh air and exercise, you get Discovery points! And it’s free! Albert’s Farm reminds me a bit of Delta Park (there is also a Parkrun there that I haven’t participated in yet) in that it’s a beautiful open space, occupied by all sorts of interesting and diverse people. Albert’s Farm is smaller than Delta Park, but there are also Shembe worshippers there. It feels like a bit of an invasion to walk by, sweating and panting. Delta Park is vast and has various purposes, including a Scout camp. It’s a wonderful place to escape from reality.armadillo

Although I haven’t been there for a while, my other happy place is the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens in Ruimsig. Home of the Black Eagle and much other wildlife, the gardens are beautifully maintained and such an amazing still place, away from the bustle of the city. It’s like stepping into Fairyland for a short sojourn.courage

I guess this post is to suggest that you, too, take a walk in the park, take a walk on the wild side, step out of the chaos for a while. It’s so worth it. Tell me when you’re going – maybe I’ll meet you there!

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