It’s easy to find Lesogo Konupi on the block. A small bicycle figurine on his postbox reveals him as the owner of a certain rectangular house, which stands surrounded by grass in the middle of a small plot – just like his neighbour’s to the left, his other neighbour’s to the right, and most of the houses in Vosloorus, the township he lives in.
The sun is rising slowly this morning, the sky is a crisp, cloudless blue, and the residents of Vosloorus – or ‘Vosloo’– are waking up to the cries of the Kunguru, a bird named after the distinctive sounds it makes. Situated 25 kilometers south-east of Johannesburg, the township is home to around 160,000 people.
Lesego is already wide awake and full of energy, despite the fact it’s 6am on a Sunday morning. Dressed in a beige cap, white shirt and black shorts, he smiles as he opens the metal gate to his plot. “I had to be ready,” he says. It’s a ride day.
The 36-year-old was born here, just like the other co-founders of Bicycle Stokvel: a collective who combine art and cycling to create new opportunities among areas around Joburg. The group – “a movement by creatives, for creatives” – launched around five years ago. For Lesego and his friends, Bongani Maleswena and Lungile Mofokeng, it was about trying to solve some of the problems they had identified in the townships they themselves grew up in.
“We wanted to create a space for people like us,” says Lesego, who works as a photographer and art director. “Because if we don’t have that space, you end up in other spaces – ones you don’t want to be in.”