Formerly 'Rambling with a cantankerous old mule"
Ten days ago I did a post about Thokoza – a township south-east of Johannesburg, South Africa. All those photos were taken from my car, as I drove down the main road in search of the freeway back to Pretoria. But last Friday I drove back to the township to try to capture something of the reality of life on its dusty streets, on foot.
(For my international readers, some background: During the Apartheid era black people were evicted from areas designated as “white only” and forced to move into segregated townships. Separate townships were established for each of the three designated non-white race groups – blacks, coloureds and Indians. Thokoza was one of these “black” townships – a place into which white people still seldom venture.)
I find it quite ironic that wherever I went people kept asking me to “shoot” them. In a township that was known as one of the most violent in South Africa in the 1990s the camera seems to have replaced the AK47 as the weapon of choice …
The township is no less poor than back in the ’90s but people are doing all they can to survive … Near the end of my visit I ventured into the edge of one of the most dangerous areas in Thokoza, the “hostels” – single-sex accommodation created by the Apartheid government for migrant workers, but which now houses singles and families, drug dealers and prostitutes – all of whom live in the most despicable of conditions.
It was sad to see how the government has seemingly abandoned so many of its residents, while the fat cats in parliament keep feathering their own nests. Our own president’s Pretoria home was going to cost a reported R191-million ($2.2-million) to refurbish last year, while extensions to his KwaZulu-Natal homestead will, according to ANC and Government sources, cost “between R69-million and R400-million” ($8-million to $47-million).
But that’s enough of me and my soapbox. Later this week I will feature business-people in Thokoza, as well as township children. For now, please allow me to set the scene: Life in a South African township.
(Please click on thumbnails below to open the photo carousel. Right click and open each photo in a new tab for best quality.)