Bringing the magic of gogo to the burbs

Having celebrated Freedom Day on Wednesday this week, advertising guru and author Melusi Tshabalala wants to create his own freedom deep in suburban Mzansi.

Tshabalala says he does not get to experience the authentic African culture with his children at the shisa nyamas in his area. So on Saturday, the founder of Everyday Speak (a culture, dialogue, language activism, advertising and design company) and author of Melusi’s Everyday Zulu and Magenge, we need to talk, will launch his Gogo Magic Eatery in Cedar Park, Fourways.

On the same day, Tshabalala will also launch his latest children’s book titled Gogo Magic and her magic food truck, which he says was not an inspiration for the eatery. Instead, he wanted a place that is child-friendly and where he could feel at home. The idea inspired the book.

“I am a single dad who lives in Fourways and I don’t like what ‘child-friendly’ places around here offer. Although there are shisa nyamas around here, I can’t go there with my children,” shares Tshabalala.

“This is why I came up with the idea of a food truck that offers authentic African food, as well as a space where African people can experience things linked to their realities.”

He shares that the book is based on the lives of his family, his mother Magic who is still alive and active in his life, his children Akhile and Azande, as well as his brother and his brother’s children.

The book tells the story of a single father whose mother created miracles for the family as they grew up. The father’s children has the warmth of their grandmother, whom they now want to share with their friends, who do not see their grannies often or at all.

But this gogo is no ordinary one, she can create magic. Together with other gogos, they spread the love all over the world by travelling in the food truck playing traditional games, telling stories, singing and serving traditional food to children in various communities.

The book also addresses important societal issues including apartheid and its ridiculous laws like the Group Areas Act, and how that still affects the way South Africans live and function.

He explained: “We get told that to succeed, we must work hard, but I hate that. So many of our parents did that. They worked far, had to take more than one taxi or train to get to work, suffering through harsh weather and other conditions.

“I touch on these things in the book without explaining too much, because I want the children to approach their parents and ask them to explain these things. We cannot hide and pretend these injustices didn’t happen and still affect lives today. It’s important to know.”

Tshabalala, who self-published the book, says the new eatery and the book are part of the larger Gogo Magic brand that will also be launched tomorrow. It includes toys, children’s clothing, and homeware.

“Its all designed to deliver on the brand’s vision – celebrating and strengthening the African family. We are teaming up with elderly women from NGOs [non-government organisations] in Alexandra, who made the dolls and the homeware.

“This is more than just profits for a business, it’s about addressing the plight of our elderly too, and helping them in their livelihoods. They are the ones who hold the fabric of our society together.” he shares.

The launch tomorrow features the food truck that the book is based on, and will be a family fun day with kasi games, challenges, and giveaways.

Gogo Magic food truck 


Kids activities at Gogo Magic Eatery

Gogo Magic Dolls will be sold



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Somaya Stockenstroom

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