VIDEO | No grime at Kwa Joe, only good, clean fun

Friends Bulelwa Mbengashe, left , and Luvuyo ‘CJ ’ Willie at Kwa Joe in Zwide on Thursday. The two – and the tavern – inadvertently caused a stir on social media
Friends Bulelwa Mbengashe, left , and Luvuyo ‘CJ ’ Willie at Kwa Joe in Zwide on Thursday. The two – and the tavern – inadvertently caused a stir on social media
Image: Annelisa Swana

Who is Kwa Joe? Is he as real as his trending tavern where the cigarettes are free and booze so cheap you are guaranteed to leave dirty?

Kwa Joe has been on everyone’s lips and fingertips after he began trending on Twitter.

Last week Wednesday, the hashtag #KwaJoe began trending on Twitter after pictures – from what was said to be a launch event – surfaced.

Some of the pictures, with the watermark “Ziyawa Kwa Joe” [meaning Joe’s tavern is the place to be] were posted on a Monday showing friends Bulelwa and CJ looking flashy but ashy at the Zwide tavern.

Soon after, pictures of people covered in mud from head to toe surfaced in a parody of the original picture.

When Port Elizabeth’s Twitter celeb or “Tweleb”, comedian Taka Tina, shared the pictures they went viral.

Taka Tina, known on Twitter for hyperbole, tweeted that he had popped in on a Saturday night.

“I changed my clothes four times in 20 minutes that night, but I couldn’t leave because the prices of the booze were crazy cheap and you got a free cigarette.”

He later admitted most of what he had said was made up.

Then there was a song dedicated to Kwa Joe, catapulting the Port Elizabeth tavern to even greater heights on social media.

On Tuesday evening, musician Mgarimbe, renowned for the popular tune Sister Bettina, released a song titled Kwa Joe, which further ignited the buzz around the tavern.

A Herald team decided to visit this social, media-famous, supposedly dirty tavern.

Who is Kwa Joe? Is he as real as his trending tavern where the cigarettes are free and booze so cheap you are guaranteed to leave dirty?

Sharing what had really happened, Bulelwa Mbengashe, 25, said she was out with her friends having a good time and not knowing photographs of the evening would be posted to social media.

Mbengashe said the pictures were taken at an event on September 27.

“My friends and I had a great time at Kwa Joe that night.

“They were even giving away free merchandise to people who could dance.”

Mbengashe said the owner, known as Playa, had set up a stage in the street and provided benches for people who came to the event.

“When we saw our pictures days later on Facebook, we thought ‘Yhu hayi hayi! [no ways] why are the pictures like this? [dusty and dirty-looking].

“But we weren’t really bothered by them nor about what people had to say,” she said.

She then started getting concerned phone calls from people she knew.

“I told them I don’t care what people say.

“I told them I am about this ‘Ziyawa Kwa Joe life’ and that’s it,” she said with confidence.

Her friend, Luvuyo “CJ” Willie, 21, said while many would go into a depression over the pictures, they were happy their “Kasi” [referring to their part of the township] was getting exposure.

“Kwa Joe is the place to be and even in December [when planning your travels] come through and have fun.

“Also people must know Kwa Joe is not a dusty place.

“I’ve been seeing posts of people saying ‘if you go to Kwa Joe you must not wash’.

“We wash and we are fresh.

“A lot of high-profile people come here too,” Willie said.

The Herald team returned looking dapper, not a speck of dust in sight.

On Thursday, the brains behind Kwa Joe, Mongameli Ngqokwe, blamed the photographer for misrepresenting the tavern.

“We were launching a clothing brand that Friday and my events co-ordinator organised a cameraman,” he said.

“He delayed in giving us the pictures and when he did they all looked as bad as you see them on social media.”

Ngqokwe said he had posted the pictures on Facebook, then deleted them soon after, but it was too late.

“Since the pictures went viral, the tavern has picked up some traction with people coming to see the place,” Ngqokwe said, adding as long as people supported local businesses he was happy.

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