Maboneng is the name of one of Johannesburg’s trendiest areas, a refurbished couple of blocks of former warehouses. It is only a couple of miles from where we live, though we have never walked there, and is our regular bolthole, usually once or twice a week. It has lots of excellent and not expensive restaurants, and is home to Arts on Main, a network of studios, craft shops and stalls, as well as a large area which is car park during the week, but then transforms into a terrific food market on Sundays. Maboneng is also home to POPArt theatre, our regular Friday night destination, the Bioscope, a small independent cinema with seating entirely comprised of old car seats, and the most fantastic second-hand bookshop.
It is probably the clearest example of the coming back to life of Johannesburg: a vibrant and exciting multicultural honeypot, attracting custom from all over the city, especially at weekends. And it is continuing to grow and expand, new restaurants opening, new street art appearing, and spreading outwards, one block at a time. It is not without its critics – gentrification is always controversial – but to our mind it is a sign of Johannesburg’s, and South Africa’s, growing optimism.