Johannesburg Exchange: The Makers’ Story – Urban Tingwanekwane *

Johannesburg Exchange was a workshop with the architect Kirsten Dörmann, urban planner Solam Mkhabela, Dr Njoki Ngumi, a Nairobi-based storyteller from the Nest Collective and Blessing Blaai, a visual artist. It focused on how a shop nestled in a property boundary wall can reconfigure the street and the architectures beyond its thresholds. Such a micro-retail outlet is viewed as a break with colonial planning principles in that it functions between the public and private sector as a non-formal headquarters of social networks and negotiates goods that are distributed across the metropolis. The makers of these small architectures are often invisible to planners despite their omnipresence in the city. The workshop recorded multiple narratives about the shop and scripted a contemporary Joburg tale of the magic hole in a wall, which it regarded as a symbol of people’s intangible desires inserted into contemporary African cities.

At African Flavour Books – an independent African bookstore specialising in African fiction – Njoki Ngumi presented a public reading of their first draft during a discussion with Solam Mkhabela, Kirsten Dörmann and Blessing Blaai, as part of Johannesburg Exchange’s public programme.

* Similar to a bedtime story or fairy tale, tingwanekwane is an oral narration that is used to communicate a useful truth, precept or piece of information (from S, Mkhabela’s PhD proposal ‘Urban Scripting’)

Subtitle Audi recording:

Hole in a Wall, Reading by Njoki Ngumi


Kirsten Dörmann (Architect)

Solam Mkhabela (Urban Planner)

Dr. Njoki Ngumi (Artist and Storyteller)

Blessing Blaai (artist)

Hole in a Wall, Reading by Njoki Ngumi