Shaun is a true Joburg native. He was born at the famous Johannesburg General hospital, and raised in the downtown neighborhoods of Hillbrow, Braamfontein and Newtown. He doesn’t live there these days, but still loves these neighborhoods for their rich Pan-African heritage, with a diversity of African cultures from across the continent represented. And he loves taking visitors into these neighborhoods to get a perspective on contemporary urban Africa in Johannesburg.
Shaun also lived for a period in Alexandra, where Nelson Mandela, in his early 20s, had his first Johannesburg home. The political heritage of Alex is one of the reasons Shaun recommends a visit to this township, as well as some excellent traditional food.
Shaun comes from a big family, a royal family from Limpopo, through his father’s side of the family. Shaun doesn’t yet have a family of his own, but coming from a large family, and due to the way he was raised, he intends to have many children!
As a child Shaun travelled a lot with his mom, all over South Africa, and later as an adult to different parts of the African continent. His current favourite destination in Africa is Swakopmund, for the natural, undisturbed desert landscapes, and the adventure activities (he loves the quad biking!).
Shaun speaks 8 of the 11 official South African languages, something that from a young age has given him incredible access to the country’s cultural diversity. “This has made me realize that I’m a custodian of our diversity, and that I should share this access with people who are interested in learning more about it. This is what drew me to tourism.”
Shaun loves Joburg street fashion, the local lingos, the foods found in different parts of Jozi, and the music – lovers of contemporary African music “should be paying attention to Amapiano”, says Shaun, “a new pop music genre that hit the mainstream in 2019, it is the soundtrack to Joburg right now”. Amapiano translated to English is ‘pianos’, merging the isiZulu plural (ama) with the English noun piano. This fluid mix of language is a quintessential South African quality, where identity moves fluidly between language, culture, geography, age and gender.