Dlala Nje (meaning 'Just Play' in isiZulu) is an innovative tour company based in Hillbrow’s iconic Ponte building that offers memorable walking and immersion experiences in the infamous inner-city neighbourhoods of Hillbrow and Yeoville. Dlala Nje’s aim is to dispel myths about these notorious suburbs and to showcase the unusual history and various African communities that make these areas of the city so distinctive.
Tours start at Dlala Nje's 51st floor apartment venue on the top floor of Ponte, Africa’s tallest residential building, from where you are surrounded by awe-inspiring views. It’s also an atmospheric starting point to listen to Dlala Nje telling the remarkable story of one of Joburg’s most distinctive landmarks and its surrounding neighbourhoods.
Ponte’s evolution mirrors the history of Joburg’s urban landscape. When it was built during the 1970s, Ponte was one of the most desirable addresses in the cosmopolitan central suburb of Berea. However, as South Africa’s state of emergency kicked in during the 1980s and municipal services to the building were cut off, the building began to decay dramatically. By the mid-1990s Ponte was in such a bad state, overrun by gangs and piled high with trash, that there were even proposals made to take the building over and turn it into a high-rise prison. Since the turn of the century however, Ponte has been experiencing a slow and miraculous revival and today is a well-run and fully-let residential building in the middle of Joburg’s most densely populated neighbourhood. In 2012 Dlala Nje launched a community centre and tour company in Ponte, leading efforts to turn around pervasive negative perceptions about visiting the neighbourhood.
Dlala Nje’s unique collection of tours include guided strolls through the busy streets of Hillbrow and Berea; a Pan-African culinary journey along the heart of Rockey Street in Yeoville, with tasting stops at local Congolese and Cameroonian eateries along the way (the stop for freshly grilled fish at La Camerounaise is always particularly memorable); and an immersive and insightful tour of the building itself, that winds its way up from the inner 'core' to a 51st floor apartment.
Dlala Nje also has a packed events programme that includes Talking Politics, a monthly journalist-led conversation series about contemporary South African politics and socioeconomic issues hosted at their 51st floor venue. Fitness buffs can join in the monthly Ponte City Challenge, a race to summit the tower block’s 900+ stairs!