Slice of life: ‘Hei Café helped me thrive’

I came to South Africa for tertiary education after struggling for four years to get into a college in Nigeria. At first I did not like it. It was hell to kind of settle in, but in my third and fourth month in South Africa, I was walking through town and Braamfontein. I am a very adaptive person, so I was just making friends and meeting people. So one day I am walking, where Nandos is in Braam, there was a café behind it where it was like a creative hub. I saw a sign, which said something about an “open mic”.

So I used to sing and I walked in there hoping I will meet like-minded people. It was so much fun! I liked what they did, so I asked to volunteer to wash their dishes. So after school I would go there and make coffee for people. I made good coffee and I could bake so after a month or two they hired me to help run the café kitchen during the school holidays. They paid me something like R2 000 a month.

That time was a pivotal moment in my life because I met all these amazing creatives there — people who now work at media houses. I found a community that helped me to begin my adaptation in South Africa. Before then I did not even know what an open mic was. That space was just filled with dreams and it just made me feel like, okay cool, I could also be one of these people, I could also be cool! The spirit of creativity that I found at Hei Café helped me to thrive and people there were daring to dream. That place there was the root of everything. I now work at Africori, where I am a communications specialist.Titilope “Titi” Adesanya as told to Tshegofatso Mathe

Tshegofatso Mathe
Tshegofatso Mathe
Tshegofatso Mathe is a financial trainee journalist at the Mail & Guardian.
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