Monday, June 17, 2013

A day in Khayelitsha

Marina @ HubSpace Khayelitsha

My friend Marina and I met two very interesting local entrepreneurs a few weeks back.

We went to check out HubSpace Khayelitsha - a new project they are working on in one of South Africa’s biggest townships. 

Khayelitsha is second in size only to Soweto with an estimated population of 1.2 million. Khayelitsha translates as 'new home' in isiXhosa and in addition to those who were born there, is home to many people who have migrated from Eastern Cape province, other areas of South Africa and increasingly other parts of Africa. It was my first time to Khayelitsha and it served to be a very interesting day.

Many entrepreneurs in township spaces don’t have access to a formal office area. In this context, the logistics of administration and gaining credibility are sometimes barriers to success. HubSpace is a solution to this problem – they rent out areas on an hourly, daily, weekly monthly or annual basis where entrepreneurs can access a phone, printer, internet, etc. 

It was a great set-up and I thoroughly enjoyed my free trial there that morning. 

Seko & Meli - Hubspace Khayelitsha

Working @ Hubspace Khayelitsha

The day also proved interesting for another reason. While driving in, I saw men on the side of the road holding jerry cans. I wondered what was in the jerry cans but didn’t think much of it.

At the space, we heard singing and looked out through the window. People were holding signs directly below us. The premier of Western Cape Province, Helen Zille was scheduled to be arriving for an event. 

Protest starting... view from the window

We heard warning shots being fired into the air. Outside, police threw someone in a van and it smelled realllyyyy bad. Turns out the protest was on sanitation in the area. Many people don’t have access to flush toilets and have to share portapotties amongst many people. 

In protest, they threw jerry cans full of poo on the Premier’s convoy.

Poor living conditions are a daily reality for many South Africans and an ongoing part of the sad legacy of apartheid.

Protest Aftermath (Photocred to Marina)
Protest Aftermath (Photocred to Marina)
Protest Aftermath (Photocred to Marina)

Every day I am here I learn something and become more aware of how little I know.  

This day in Khayelitsha (seeing a wonderful local entrepreneurship project and a protest for access to basic sanitation) stands out to me as an illustration of the incredible complexity and contrast present in South Africa. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A photo walk through Woodstock, Cape Town

Woodstock (Table Mountain and Devil's Peak in the background)

Art & Words
Cape Town is a sprawling city, containing many ‘suburbs’ that used to be small towns in themselves. Woodstock is one such suburb, about 1 kilometer from the city centre (or ‘town’ as it is called here’).

My introduction to Cape Town two years ago was in Woodstock. This is where I lived and volunteered for a month and a half on my first visit to the city. Woodstock continues to draw me back – I find myself coming back to this area often.

It is a fascinating and intense space:

Van taxis swerve and squeal through traffic while the conductors shout their destinations. 
Vendors line the streets selling their wares.
Funky cafes, art galleries and antique shops abound.
Devils Peak provides a stunning background to the myriad side streets adorned with brightly painted houses.
Pigeons and the occasional scroungy dog pick through the mounds of trash. 
Circles of barbed wire line virtually every fence.

Beauty & barbed wire

Woodstock has a unique history as one of the areas that remained integrated during apartheid, escaping the forced removals that saw its neighbouring suburb; the once vibrant District 6 bulldozed and classified a ‘white only’ area. Today it continues to be a diverse space.

Elaine was a resident of the former District 6. She was forcibly removed during apartheid and moved to Woodstock years ago to be close to where she grew up. 
Cape Town has been selected by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) as the World Design Capital for 2014 (the last two awards were giving to Helsinki and Seoul). The objective of the award is to recognize and showcase cities that are dedicated to using design for social, cultural and economic development.

Woodstock really stands out to me in this regard, using design for social, cultural and economic ends.  

Although it is a microcosm of the inequality present throughout South Africa, I believe that this place has something really special. It is full of beautiful and uplifting street art and crammed with visuals of hope, vibrance and beauty.

The graffiti is a combination of esthetics, inspiration, politics and poetry.

Here are some offerings from today’s stroll through Woodstock with a camera...

Feeding the Pigeons

You've Got the Whole World in Your Hands

Part 1 - Evolution (?)

Part 2 - Evolution (?)

Part 3 - Evolution (?)

Removing the greyness from the soul is the job of musicians, artists and poets...

Wearing their hearts on their sleeves

Spray Paint Poetry

An imagined window

Imagined windows

Outer wall of Children's Home

Outer Wall of Children's Home

@ a Children's Home