The Journey Man – Ebook

4.33 out of 5
(3 customer reviews)


A South African Reporter’s Stories
Retail Price: R100

Format: PDF, Mobi (Kindle) and ePub

“It’s like sitting in a journo bar listening to old hacks tell their funniest, sauciest stories.”

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the journey man

At sea with the diamond divers of Port Nolloth.


The Journey Man parachutes you back into the South Africa of the 1970s and the years leading up to the country’s first democratic elections in 1994.

the journey man

The French Quarter of New Orleans, circa 1981.

It was a time when Hillbrow hummed to a different tune. When the coolest newspaper in town was the Rand Daily Mail, and the naughtiest publication around was Scope Magazine.

the journey man

Deep into the Hillbrow Underground of yesterday.

It was a time of nipple stars, test-pattern TV and the Soweto Uprising, as Grand Apartheid began to unravel. When the Silver Creek Mountain Band lit the night up with their magic fiddles, Eric Clapton came to visit and the Carlton Hotel was nearly blown up by three rough diamonds.

This was the era when Chris Marais plied his trade, first as a staff reporter for the Rand Daily Mail and then as an award-winning journalist for Scope. These are his stories.

Fill your glass to the brim. Get comfortable. You’re in for a helluva ride with The Journey Man and his old pals.

4.33 out of 5

3 reviews for The Journey Man – Ebook

  1. 4 out of 5


    Just finished reading “The Journey Man” by Chris Marais. It details his days as a journalist, mostly in Apartheid South Africa.

    Having followed the work of the Bang-Bang Club, this adds another dimension to the story of the Young Turks of the journalism scene back then.

    They spent most of their time exploring the underbelly of society and the depths of human nature, which many of us are thankfully not regularly exposed to.

    They had to evolve ways of coping with that, yet trying to live normal lives, some with more success than others.

    What I enjoy about this book is that Chris saw all the characters, in some pretty bizarre situations, as humans, and recounts their stories in a non-judgmental, often humorous way.

    Even heavy subject matter is easy to read when guided through it by this master story teller, and is balanced by many lighter moments too, enjoying the eccentricities and ironies of life.

    For me, the chapter on Hillbrow provided some real ‘blast from the past’ memories of 1975, and his descriptions made me feel I was back there, buying brown rotisserie chicken from Fontana Cafe at 3am, in a vain attempt to sober up before lunch with larny relations later in the day…and buying Cold Fact at Hillbrow Records…

    The book is written as if you are sitting together in a pub, listening as Chris recounts memories from those days, and it really does read that way, as you roll along alternatively enthralled by quirky people and saddened by insights into the darker aspects of society.

    It even ends abruptly, as if the raconteur had one too many beers while spinning his yarns, and suddenly passed out on the table. I hope he comes to, and tells more stories sometime, it was a fun encounter!

  2. 4 out of 5


    The read certainly was a journey with you – through your spirited youth, your travels in the U.S., across South Africa and through the years.

    All the way your unmistakable Chris-voice gave your experiences vivid life. Each read was like a visit with you, and I could read a chapter and put the book down, knowing it would be easy to “drop back in” when time permitted a visit with you again.

    I loved the insider’s experience of South African events to which most of us simply were not privy. I loved the characters you encountered, and the oh-so-South African feel of your narrative.

    For someone so far away from South Africa, it was an emotional experience reading your book, and all the more so knowing you. It is not easy writing all about oneself, and you did it candidly. Thanks for your work, your art.


  3. 5 out of 5


    To read Chris Marais as a fellow hack is to drink deep from the cup of nostalgia for a time we all experienced with a familiar cast of media players – many of whom are no longer with us

    The Journey Man is not so much a voyage into the past, as a teleportation into a parallel space time continuum in which we were all younger, crazier, and ready to conquer the world. It’s with a sense of wistfulness that I revisit that now foreign land and see it through older, sadder, but (hopefully) wiser eyes.
    Chris Marais

    Chris Marais, a consummate narrator …

    The Journey Man jogs the most jaded of memories. Thanks to Marais I flash back to a younger time when the bedazzlements of strobe lights and Donna Summer’s Hot Stuff throbbed through the speakers of The Grand Wazoo in Pretoria. Marais’ memory of that bastion of sophistication and everything hitherto forbidden, is more prosaic.

    He calls the club from the newsroom of the Pretoria News. “Hello, is that the Grand Wazoo?

    “No I’m just the cleaner,” comes the response.

    The hilarious Marais is a consummate narrator, freshening up familiar territory with his philosophical, gossipy, and always entertaining prose. Who doesn’t remember Hillbrow in the early 80s? Who didn’t drink coffee and play backgammon at Café Wien? Who didn’t browse through Hillbrow Records, Estoril Books, explore the flea market in the basement on Pretoria Street or buy a brown chicken from Fontana at 3am?
    Who doesn’t remember Hillbrow in the early 80s?

    Who doesn’t remember Hillbrow in the early 80s?

    Here’s Hillbrow through the Chris Marais lens, kicking off with a bout of female mud wrestling:

    “… full tilt, nipple caps flying, panties slipping down to reveal G-strings, legs akimbo, eyes full of oil …

    “…a suicide story. Some kids smoked one white pipe over the limit and threw themselves out of a flat on the 20h floor. They left no notes …”

    “Mother Hillbrow is a filthy bitch at sunrise …”

    Marais even writes about the Hillbrow Herald – that long-defunct “knock-and-drop” where I first cut my own journalistic teeth … yup, those were the heady, halcyon days, my friends. We thought they’d never end …

    Of course, this is his story, and not mine. It’s just that Marais has a way of writing that wraps a friendly arm of prose around your shoulders and draws you into the action. Combining memoir, satire, confession, and humility, Marais, ever the literary showman, tells it like it is without resorting to adjectival metaphor. Unless, of course, you count the journey as the leitmotif, since Marais takes you on a journey in both senses of the word.

    The Journey Man is an event-filled travelogue that spans the Atlantic Ocean from San Francisco down to the Karoo, but it is also the mental journey of a young man learning about people, politics, and philosophy on his way to becoming a better journalist, and dare I say, human being. Oh, who am I kidding? The Journey Man is boozy, druggy, blokish fun, more a rush than a trip down memory lane that is in equal parts memoir, commentary, and derring-do adventure.

    You’ll find yourself immersed when you really should be packing the dishwasher/responding to plaintive Pee Arse/filling in a tax return. It’s catnip for scribes so don’t say I didn’t warn you! – Caroline Hurry
    * This review first appeared on

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