On Tuesday, Rofhiwa Book Café owners Bev Tumi Makhubele and Naledi Yaziyo announced that they are opening a second cafe, Congress Durham, just blocks from Rofhiwa at 419 South Driver in East Durham.
This second concept, slated to open this summer, will have morning cafe hours with grab-and-go breakfast options as well as evening hours as a bar. Makhubele tells the INDY Week that Congress Durham will have eight taps and that they anticipate serving unfussy cocktails and local beers.
Makhubele and Yaziyo launched Rofhiwa in 2021 with a mission of nurturing “the expansiveness of the black imagination,” per the bookstore website. In the two years since, the spot has become a lively gathering space and literary hub, with a regular events slate of readings, live music, and book launches. In just the past few months, the bookstore has played host to touring writers like Treva B. Lindsey, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Ibram X. Kendi, as well as local writers and musicians like Tyree Daye, XOXOK, and Alexis Pauline Gumbs.
Congress Durham will be a continuation of that vision, the pair say, serving as a neighborhood post-up for casual drinks as well as events and live music.
“We’ve thought about what it means for us to gather, to have a gathering space to accumulate power,” Yaziyo says. “And so it continues, I think, the mission of Rofhiwa, which is to always insist on the Black tradition of Black conviviality.”
The Angier Avenue and South Driver intersection has seen turnover, over the past three years, with the closure of East Durham Bake Shop in 2020 in the building where Rofhiwa is now located, and the opening of Ideal’s Sandwich Shop, directly across the street, in 2021. In 2020, Michael “Mike D” De Los Santos opened Mike D’s BBQ Supply & General Store in East Durham. He now plans to expand the enterprise this summer with a BBQ restaurant at 455 South Driver Street.
Makhubele and Yaziyo don’t have an exact opening date for Congress Durham nailed down yet but are hoping for late May, to mark the second-year anniversary of Rofhiwa being open.
“It matters that we have a good time, too,” Yaziyo says. “A good time is in fact political—especially to us in East Durham. It matters because in cases like East Durham, in cases where Black people live, the narrative is often one that has to do with crisis. Being there with Rofhiwa has put us in a space where we are very intentional about insisting that it is possible to have a different kind of narrative.”
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