Roeland Street’s creative spirit lives on.

 

Roeland Street starts in front of the national assembly.

At the traffic lights of Plein, Roeland and St John’s Road, is the most unavoidable in your face statue of Louis Botha, titled Farmer, Warrior and Statesman. In the era of Must Fallism I’m amazed that the former Prime Minister still stands, but as the #RhodesMustFall eras began, the man on the horse was defaced, but the period was an embarrassing quick climax.

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Roeland street, with Parliament at the far end and City Varsity on the left.

As the horse takes its first step, its St. Mary’s Cathedral on the right which was built in 1841.

Along the road is City Varsity a media and creative arts schools, The Fitness Factory aka Fitness for Life offers a range of dances.

The Bookery aka Home of the Equal Education Book Drive, with a dream of getting every South African school a functional library.

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The Kimberley Hotel, more known for its authentic and typical olden day pub is situated in a building built in 1895 that was once the starting point for horse-drawn carriages leaving the mother city for Kimberley.

On the other side of the street I start browsing the wide range of books available in this 100-year-old building on Roeland Street, I come across a Vladimir tretchikoff book by … and the book on African art by… I grab the readings head down to the dudgeon.

As I Walked in, a scrawny nerdy man in faded black jeans and a Queen T-shirt hanging up pictures and artworks, on the ceiling. Scanning the books nearby ranging from politics to queer, history and children’s stories.

The coffee shop nearby and a lounge setup just a foot away, on the specials blackboard nicely scrabbled Book lounge. The super intellect, feeling guilty of ignoring me, he tells me he doesn’t work here, so I mustn’t feel like he is being rude.

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Book lounge, Blankspace, Muti at the corner of Buitekant and Roeland street. Photography Vincent

Chatting to the busy owner, he points to the decorations, he says they’re preparing for tonight’s book launch of the latest version of a series by Willem Samuels called Mengelmoes a graphic novel.

Mr Mervyn slowmen talks passionately of how he started the book lounge is 2007, with a dream of creating an environment where readers and writers could interact, and also

“Where you can be comfortable reading a book while enjoying a cup of coffee”.

Looking at the “cave-like” as Ellen calls it, a regular visitor at the shop for the last 4 months; she’s from UK, a student at the University of Cape Town, studying MA creative writing.

Ellen says she enjoys the experience, the coffee and how safe she feels being here “it’s like second skin”.

The bust paintings on the walls, Slowmen tells me its pieces from his friends.

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Barneys at corner of Buitekant and Roeland street. Photograph Vincent Silingile

Slowmen says they host numerous events and book launches, coming from exclusive books, he says the role of indy bookshops is creating a space where “ideas can be shared”.

And I’m drawn to the man in geek glasses doing the deco, he tells me he is the author, illustrator and University of Stellenbosch Fine art graduate, he resembles the character in the book.

He says the book is about love story, religion and being white in post-apartheid South Africa. He starts making fun of his varsity days being seeing in skinny jeans.

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Roeland street, with Parliament at the far end and City Varsity on the left.

The comic Samuel penned are memoirs of a sort, he says the Mengelmoes and titled Porn again deals with a side of people that you don’t normally see. It’s humorous, easy to understand, fun and has some dark elements like suicide attempt. As a born again I relate to the many aspects that face Christians.

Leaving the book lounge I’m amazed by the amount of books written and gathering dust in book shops as people fight for access to free education and burning institutions of higher learning.

Buitenkant Street is filled with creativity and interesting spaces, in the same book lounge century old building is Blankspace a small gallery showcasing limited edition prints, cards, stationery and other collectables.

Along the monopoly street is the South African Heritage Resources Agency, an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture responsible for protecting South Africa’s cultural heritage.

As a photography enthusiast you can’t pass Orms Print Room. The horse-ride is at Food lovers market and Harold Cressy High School.

The Western Cape Archives and Records, is originally the site where the old Roeland Street Prison used to operate. The CPUT’s information and design faculty is housed at 80 Roeland diagonally is Stor-Age and opposite Fire Station with the magnificent Table Mountain views.

End//749

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