BETWEEN A LANDLORD AND THE XENOPHOBIA ON THE STREET

Crowded in between a landlord and fear of Xenophobia in the streets of South Africa.

Crowded in between a landlord and fear of Xenophobia in the streets of South Africa. Photo John Robinson

The Madiengua family lives in a over crowded flat in the Point area of Durban, South Africa or “Little Nigeria” as it is known.

The Madiengua family live with their personal belongings packed in plastic bags in case of immediate eviction by the landlord of their building in the Point area of Durban, South Africa, Paty Madiengua stands with his wife Yvette and 4 children L to R Ephraim (15), Sabrina (14), Geffrey (10) and Genesis (2) in the kitchen of their flat ready be on the move again.

Yvette comes from the village Buta in Oriental Province, DRC. her parents were killed by the DRC army, she escaped to Kinshasa with her brother and sister where her brother went missing. Yvette met Paty an egg vendor on the streets of Kinshasa and followed him to South Africa with their 4 children.

Paty works night shift as a security guard in the city and Yvette sells clothes on the beach front. Mr Madiengua’s salary does not match up to the rent on their 14th floor flat, the landlords in the area are getting rid of families on the over crowding rule. While the Madiengua family feel safe in their flat they struggle to keep up with the rent and cost of a family and they are “fearful of the xenophobia in the townships”.

 

GARAGE SALESMAN…

Mark Cook stands out on the pavement of ZK Mathews Road in Durban, South Africa. Cook irks ill informed Durban city officials with his ‘willing seller willing buyer’ of private items from his home garage.

Live by the Sword and Live More Fully

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Me half way up some stairs in Kinshasa, DRC. Photo John Robinson.

As a self confessed visual poet and spirit thief, I will do well as a photographer to make some of my own spirit more available to the people around me.

In a conversation with T-Bone at the BAT Centre in Durban about the tangibility of the substance of a good photograph, I realized that as a photographer I am able to connect with the spirit of others and or the spirit of the moment before my lens but I am hard pressed to share my self with those around me on a daily basis.

T-Bone asked me if there was a tangible transfer of something when a photograph is taken “like in drama on the theatre stage” I said a big yes to his question, T-Bone is a drama specialist at the BAT Centre. I have seen many ‘stiff’ or ‘dead’ photographs to conclude that something of the ‘spirit’ or the ‘moment’ resides in some other photographs. I told T-Bone that a photographic image that speaks to the viewer is the same as the stage drama that speaks to someone in the audience in this sense.

Take my camera out of my hands and I become a bit of stiff too, but I am learning to loosen up on my spirit in the social sense, it’s hard, but I am making headway. I don’t like the word ‘networking’ and I am an useless networker, but I like the word ‘connect’ and as a photographer I understand the concept. By connecting my spirit with those of others, those others may too get a hold on who I am as a person, while I get a hold on something of their spirits. We are members of human race and all have something in common; and it is for us to find out what our commonalities are and blossom together if possible.

As a narrative photographer I am a task master at lurking on the edge of an activity with my ‘M6 and getting away with some of the gold on offer. As a member of the same race that I shoot I am too now more giving of my own spirit to those others around me. It’s like giving back of what I have gotten over the years as a photog; and it’s good for me too. I am freed up to just be me more often, and in front of others too.

They say “live by the sword and die by the sword”… I add to this by saying I can also live more fully too before the end comes as it will for everyone of us.

THE CLANS OF THE CAVE MEN

I describe clannish behavior as following: One against his brother, brothers against sisters, siblings against cousins, a group of people against an other and so on to the end of the county. Bitterness runs deep; and there can be no forgiveness as it is beyond anyone to unravel the resulting multi generational mess.

Fiction writing has many examples of clannish ways, stories of ancient People who are caught by ways of the past; who cannot see new ways forward. History has more examples of the same; the Balkans is a place where the people of the same land have fought brother against neighbor over issues of old. Jean M. Auel also writes about a young girl; a medicine woman trained in the art of healing, shunned by her own people and forced to leave a place due to the infighting cave men in her land. It does not matter if it is your sister or your own cousin; it does not matter if there are issues of belief and appearance. sometimes it is just a matter of the potential gold in your pocket…

The shunning of the other in our midst or clannish behavior is the issue behind racism, xenophobia or genocide call it what you will.

We live in a communal village, and we are all cousins in the Human family…

XENOPHOBIA

Fear of the other took the United Kingdom out of the European Union; this takes me back to the Roman Empire and the Huns on it’s eastern frontier, and the ongoing mistrust between the sedentary and the nomad.

Both peoples have a thirst for land, and we all live in the same village now, it’s called Earth.

Understanding is a good antidote for fear-of-other or xenophobia. No country is really an island in the end. Humankind will have to live together, and just get to understand each other in our midst…

JUJU, THE KING MAKER

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Julius Malema; the young vocal leader of EFF is a festering thorn in the side of many South Africans who support the Democratic Alliance. ‘Juju’ as he is known on the streets of South Africa is known for anti eurocentric rants like “one boer one bullet”.

Julius Malema came out of the ranks of Jacob Zuma’s ANC as the leader of their youth wing, he was also a close supporter of Jacob Zuma. Disgruntled, Malema left the ANC to form the Economic Freedom Fighters a vocal leftist political party with much inside knowledge of the ANC. The EFF are now in overall third place in the South African Local Government 2016 elections. Juju is now in the position of king maker to the Democratic Alliance to the ire of some of its pale supporters in some areas where there is no outright winner in these elections.

South Africa is now in the age of coalition politics whether some people in the country like it or not…

TRADITIONAL LEADERS COME TO GRIPS WITH CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

 

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Traditional leaders in Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa attend a workshop held by CREATE CBR to raise awareness around disability issues in the area.

Sometimes it’s the simple image that gets the message across. A photo is like a triangle, it has technique, composition and story. This time it’s just the simple story of a ‘saintly’ traditional leader reading the South African Constitution in the midday sun outside the Mpungose Traditional Court that is the driving force behind the photograph.