Hello, my name is Erik Ponder and I will be your guide as we read and explore contemporary South African literature, culture, and society. I arrived in Johannesburg a week ago and I am finally settled in. I’ve already begun reading the novel by Phaswane Mpe and I am excited to get this project started. I had the great pleasure of meeting many of you during our kickoff event at Northwestern University Libraries. We had an opportunity to screen the Academy Award winning film, Tsotsi, and we had a robust discussion about the film and its meaning. We also had the opportunity to peruse materials on and about South Africa from our renowned Melville J Herskovits Library of African Studies. Finally, we had the occasion to discuss our plans for the next two months as we read and interpret the novel, Welcome to Our Hillbrow. As we explore the novel together, I will be your guide in Johannesburg, supplementing what you are reading and learning in class with media that will hopefully touch upon your inquisitive and intellectual senses. I greatly look forward to engaging with each and every one of you. I encourage you to not only interact with me but also with your fellow explorers as we navigate the novel and the city of Johannesburg together. I look forward to your many comments and active participation.