A 'centre for friendship and memory', the Roving Bantu Kitchen is not a restaurant in the strictest sense of the word. It is more a meeting place, an events venue, a self-proclaimed afro-soul food kitchen serving homemade dishes that are influenced by a variety of African cuisines and ingredients. The menu is constantly changing and depends on what owner Sifiso Ntuli feels inspired to cook that day, ensuring visitors always experience something new.
Thursdays are for 'DarkieMentary' screenings, with a particular focus on documentary films concerning Africa and the African diaspora, paired with a menu that is friendly to student budgets (starts 18:30). Other events to look out for include book launches and poetry events.
The venue itself is a bright little spot on a Brixton corner filled with quirky items of African memorabilia that speak to the jumbled narrative of history and memory in South Africa. There are old posters of the two Bobs - Marley and Mugabe, ancient radios and movie projectors, gig posters from legendary early '90s Joburg clubs, old records - including the racy Springbok cover records of the apartheid era, vintage furniture and items of African curiosity that Sifiso picked up during his years in political exile from South Africa.
The Roving Bantu Kitchen is very easy to spot as the entire front of the building is painted with an intricate graffiti mural featuring the portraits of numerous African cultural heroes.
You can also book a Roving Bantu Tour of Joburg led by Sifiso, whose tours focus on culinary traditions and collective memory taking in the history and culture of Joburg's less glamorous and famous areas such as Brixton, Fietas (a victim of apartheid’s forced removals) and pan-African Yeoville, as well as parts of Soweto. During the struggle against apartheid Sifiso spent many years in exile and has a unique perspective on contemporary South Africa and its path to democracy.
Tours start from the Roving Bantu Kitchen and Sifiso can act as driver or you may choose to drive yourself. On the first Sunday of every month you can also join the Roving Bantu Brixton-Fietas Heritage Trek, a 6.7km guided walk through this lesser known part of the city which ends back at the Roving Bantu Kitchen with live music and a three-course Afrosoul food lunch (costs from R350 including lunch).