The Humans of Joburg

Joburg Expat

Last night was the third #TranslatingJoburg.  Tickets were like gold dust, with last minute exchanges taking place to grab a seat under the stars to hear amazing stories from two amazing local Jo’burg women. 

Storytellers Joburg
stories of joburg

The evening kicked off with challenge to find those people who had spent time in jail, read more than 50 books a year, or have been published. The winner - Sara went home with a beautiful book Prospects of Babel, donated by Bridge Books the latest and greatest new book store in town. This new shrine to the reading gods is certainly worth the effort to visit, just make sure you have the time to browse!!!!.
We all grabbed our delicious homemade butternut soup, wrapped up warm ready to take our place around the fire and be inspired. Deshun, Heather and Florence did not disappoint.  



Deshun Desyel, the first South African lady to climb Everest, sat down to tell us her own personal story.  It is a story that she rarely tells it included how she came to be selected to be part of the team to climb Everest, despite having grown up in a system that didn't allow her to be part of any climbing club. Luckily after missing the bus to school everyday she had strong legs from all that walking!!! Deshun has always been intentional about what she wants out of life. She saw the opportunity and applied, simple as that. She now returns to townships to challenge young people to support one another in making their dreams happen, to have faith and belief in one another, rather than the believing the lie that "people like us cannot do things like that".  She said ‘it takes grit, hard work, constantly learning and adapting and proving people wrong, proving that they have under estimated me and my capabilities’. No one listening last night will make that mistake.  Deshun lastly challenged us to hear the stories of those people we are surrounded by, to step out of our comfort zone and learn about our neighbour's. 


Stay connected to Deshun and learn more about her leadership development programmes - read her inspirational blog click here 

Florence's story was told by Heather, who read us her blog post. 

"Alexandra Township is a very violent township," says Florence. "You knew that your neighbours were kind and loving, but the streets were a different place. At five o'clock you had to be home...... Every weekend we knew there would be a dead body on the streets." 
“The hardest thing for me was to know that as a result of my sexual behavior and my life and where I was born, a soul has left this world. An innocent soul. And I had to live with that. I had to live with knowing that I was the reason that my baby died. Of course there was blame, there was stigma. I didn’t mind. It was more like, I deserve it, you know? Whatever was happening.”

Florence has gone on to fight for the rights of women and children with HIV, she has consulted UNICEF, UNAIDS and World Health Organisation. Traveled the world speaking to Oprah Winfrey, Bono, and Obama.

Personally, she has remarried and gone on to have 2 healthy children. Most recently she graduated, and now hopes to become a human rights lawyer. Florence taught us not to let a story define who you are, 


“I don’t believe there’s a stupid person, because I’ve been called stupid. I’ve been boxed, but I refuse to be boxed. I refuse to be identified as a person living with HIV. I refuse to be identified as a mother. I refused to be identified. I refuse to be categorized.
“I am Florence, and I’m human, and I’m a mother of course. I’m HIV-positive, but that’s not me. That’s not all that I can offer in life. Every one of us has more than what we are, and only when we’re given a chance to strive for more, we do.
Joburg Storytellers translatingjoburg

Stories come in all forms and varieties, so to finish we had the wonderful Nicholas Goliath who ensured we all left with a smile on our face.  We cannot wait to visit the newest and funniest comedy club in town to see our new friends doing what he does best!  

Check out Goliath and Goliath here…

Thanks again to all our sponsors, and the wonderful Lizette from Nomads for making it all possible. If you missed #TranslatingJoburg this time, not to worry - we run them every other month - so come join us on the 19th September to learn more about the Jozi food revolution.


joburg expat



 “the vision behind Translating Joburg is to encourage both expats and Jozi natives to experience Johannesburg as if you only had 6 months left here, to explore new places, revisit old favourites, and to see it through a fresh pair of eyes."