The Real Soul of a Suburb

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By Eve Fairbanks, The Mail & Guardian, August 20, 2012

When night falls on Seventh Avenue in Melville, Johannesburg, the darkened storefronts separating the lit ones look like the gaps in a battered prizefighter's smile. There are a dozen "To Let" signs in the space of three blocks. An artisanal cupcake shop came to the neighbourhood and, within the year, was gone; the same with a pan-Asian restaurant, a fancy nightclub, a French bistro.

Entrepreneurs keep bringing their offerings to the Melville of the imagination – a more bohemian Parkhurst, or a 21st-century version of the old Yeoville where artists and intellectuals of all colours would come to sample tapas and dance – rather than the increasingly ­studenty Melville that it really is.

There is one exception. You can see its fluorescent glow all the way from Seventh Avenue, although it is set half a block off the main drag on Third Street, where the rent is cheaper. It is called Mzansi Takeaways. Read more ...