WELCOME TO THE MDANTSANE WAY MAGAZINE

Mdantsane is a unique, vibrating, eclectic, African place. Follow us on a pilgrimage to Mdantsane to discover the street culture, fashion, food, people, music, homes, taverns, humor, businesses, history and what's hot in the second biggest township in South-Africa, located close to the city of East London in the Province of the Eastern Cape. Join us on this journey while we capture the spirit of this amazing place for you in the here and in the now. We are going to introduce you to many individuals, artists, musicians, groups and associations.
They are the HEROES OF DAILY LIFE. They are the people who create, innovate and improve their life and their stories deserve to be told. This is a place for only good and positive stories of humanity, that will send out a message of courage, endurance and strength to the world through their pictures and words.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

SIDWELL - LIFE AS A CAR GUARD


Sidwell comes from Mdantsane but he works not there. 
He commutes to the business center of East London every day. Sidwell works as a car guard.
He lived once in Mdantsane but lost his house due to a fire that has destroyed a whole area there and moved to the informal settlement of Duncan Village where he built a shack and where he lives now. 
Duncan village has been recognized as an area that will be developed by the municipality in the future. For now there is only in certain sectors electricity and water.


In every town in South-Africa there are car guards.The car guards allocate certain streets between themselves and watch the cars. It is one of the big informal employment sectors in South Africa. How much you pay and what you give is up to you. There is no fixed rate.
To some they are the hounds from hell considered as robbing, stealing thieves that are a danger to society.
To others a non-avoidable nuisance.
But many appreciate their presence because they take care of the cars carry parcels for you if you have any and try to earn money and make a living like we all do.
Sidwell thinks he is 57 but is not sure of it.


He had tuberculosis and has been treated but he feels often sick and pays frequently visits to the public hospital. During his times of absence that he spends at the clinic he looses badly needed income because other car guards take over his place.
If he does not come back in time his street will be taken over by a younger guy.
And he thinks he is too old for this job.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

BUSINESS ON THE STREETS

Business is often done on the streets under the clear blue sky.


And one way to do it if you don't have a shop or the money to rent a shop is to get a container. They are placed all over the township, used as offices, telephone boots sometimes even as houses.


The"  taxi rank" is the place where you have to wait to get a taxi to go to  "town" meaning the city center of East London which is approximately half an hours drive.Umbrellas in bright colors shelter against the sun.


And this is the place as well to get " AIRTIME " for prepaid cellphones.


The Ethembeni Old Age Home makes no exception in this regard. The office is a container that was donated to them.


The office from the back side.


And the inside. The Ngo is managed from this space.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Take My Picture




55% of the community members are unemployed, about 25 % are workers and 20% are depending on either a disability grant, child support grant or old age grant made available by the government.

DANCING TO GOSPEL

Sunday, February 28, 2010

MEET ETHEMBENI






Against some western beliefs ' SELF HELP " is a concept that is already embodied in African Societies and does not have to be taught to the people by developmental organizations.

" The situation of the senior citizens in this country requires that they be taken care of. As we look at this, we discovered that abuse starts at home and ends up in loan sharks. The chances of elderly people to have their freedom are minimized by exploitation, violence and insecurity. This is when we identified the problems they are facing. Some individuals were neglected because their children were suffering from HIV/AIDS and this affected the elderly people emotionally. As we worked closer with them we further noticed that some of them were abused because of their pension grant. Ethembeni helped most families around as some elderly people were left alone while their children were at work and their grand-children at school."

( Origin and Existence of the Ethembeni Old Age Home, Pelisa Welemu) 

Proud Care-givers in their uniforms at the Ethembeni Old Age Home

The Ethembeni Old Age Home has been our port of entry into Mdantsane and we would like to dedicate a chapter on this formidable institution.

The house in NU 2 were 28 old people have found a safe home

The Ethembeni Old Age Home was founded in august 2004 as a non-profit organization. Pelisa Welemu, the co-author of this book started cooking soup and sometimes lunch for elderly people of NU 2 in Mdantsane. The Uniting Reformed Church was approached the same year for their unused mission house. Services were offered to the elderly people and some of them decided to stay because they felt neglected and abused in their community and society. Beds and linen were borrowed from people who could and wanted to assist the home. 

A resident's room inside the home

" WHEN PEOPLE BEGAN STAYING IN THE HOUSE THAT WAS WHEN OUR HOME STARTED."




But it gives much more than a mouth-full to the elders. It means security, shelter, care,company and warmth.


Most of all company with the ones that are like you and understand your needs, desires and hopes.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Reflections On The Past




IT SEEMS LIKE THE FUTURE HAS OVERTAKEN THE PAST AND LEFT IT BEHIND.

LONG LIFE FOR A STRONG LIFE


Most of the people we met and to whom we spoke had a smile on their face. Although there is little material wealth in many families, a high rate of unemployment and a lack of basic necessities.... we were welcomed by them with a smile.

Hello What's Your Name?


The population of Mdantsane is very young. It is estimated that 40% of the population is under the age of 15 years. A large majority of the people in the township are Xhosa speaking. There is a great number of schools in Mdantsane and more are built. Children have access now to education and most of them speak English at an early age.

THE FACE OF THE TOWN





There is no lack of cars or of their remains on the streets of Mdantsane.
It's a paradise for car lovers, ressembling a little Havanna and all models, sizes and types can be found in varying states of working condition. 

If they lack their most essential " ingredients" like engines and tires they are stored on sidewalks or fields and serve still as playground for children or for young lovers.   



Parts of Mdantsane became electrified over the years bringing a long desired change to the lives of thousands of families but many parts and the growing informal settlements bordering the outskirts of the township remain still unplugged. Most of the streets inside the township are dirt roads. The Government has built and provided thousands of simple houses over the last 15 years since South-Africa became a democratic country. Most of the houses are built in similar style and are set up in clusters in close distance to each other.
Mdantsane lacks an adequate social and economic infrastructure for an urban area of it's size.


If the financial means are available houses are neat, beautifully painted and well maintained by their owners. Most of them have a small fenced garden. 
But the town faces major challenges in regard to the supply of potable water, accessibility  of public transport, road and pedestrian access-way networks, the safety of its residents. The high crime rate complicates the life of its residents.
There are also insufficient primary quality health care facilities to deal with the high prevalence of HIV infections and HIV related  diseases.


Community Chat facilities are set up at strategic points.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

A SOUP OF BUTTERNUT

Wherever you are in this world there is nothing like laughter to make you feel good.



And a soup of Butternut in South -Africa.Good for old and young.


Butternut - Pumpkin soup - is cooked, served, loved and eaten through all segments of South-African Society. With a little bit of cinnamon.....and butter, sometimes thick or if you like it smooth. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ALL THE SINGLE LADIES PUT A RING ON YOUR FINGER




Statistics say that the percentage of men to women in Mdantsane is nearly equal. 

Every girl and woman we met say : 

              NO, NO, NO, THERE ARE MORE LADIES THAN MEN.



SO ALL THE SINGLE LADIES  - IF YOU WANT TO - PUT A RING ON YOUR FINGER.

THE BIRTH OF A TOWNSHIP



"They tell us 400.000 people live here. But we don't believe it. Because if you drive through this place it feels like as if there is a million. And the place is getting bigger.
We know that we are the second largest township in South-Africa, Soweto is first, but still not much has been said about us. But with the arrival of the big shopping mall we are up-grading now. "

Mdantsane was established in 1962 under the framework of the Apartheid Regime and it's purpose was to provide living space for cheap African labor coming from East London but also from rural areas. 
The first inhabitants that were living in Mdantsane were residents that had been removed by force from an area in East London called the East Bank.
According to old documents several hundred low cost houses were built on the outskirts of the Eastern Suburbs of East London at that time to accommodate them.

In the years from 1964 to 1970 further forced resettlements took place and thousands of families became inhabitants of Mdantsane that was growing rapidly into a big township developing it's own character and life style.
The Department of Bantu Education and Development under the Apartheid Regime saw Mdantsane as a sort of labor reserve for the labor needs of East London.  

It remained an isolated artificial construction during the Apartheid time that never integrated into the white urban areas.
In 2008 the Mdantsane City Mall one of the biggest malls in the Eastern Cape has opened it's door and has changes the face of the town. A great step was made assissting Mdantsane to become a self -contained suburb with its own entertainment facilities and amenities.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Traditional Will Never Be Out Of Fashion !!!


We received one last piece of useful advice from the SEWING SISTERS.



" A Woman does not have to look like a twig, cause what man does want a twig ? "

Another relieving thought don't you think?

THE SEWING SISTERS OF THE CHURCH

       AND OUR BREAD GIVES US DAILY


Entrepreneurial activities sprout everywhere. In every street of every unit. They are no limits in terms of creativity, improvisation, the use of space and logistics and in the way business is done. There is an unbreakable spirit of self-help and help-each-other attitude amongst the citizens of Mdantsane.


The TWO SEWING SISTERS have set up their business in a church. 
The importance of networking has not to be explained to the people of Mdantsane. This small business was created when the Ethembeni Old Age Home received a donation of brand new modern sewing machines and had no immediate use for them.


But two ladies with exceptional sewing skills and ambitious attitude were already seizing the opportunity and with the church's permission to use the space during the week a small sized business was created in a couple of days.


The space is enough to expand and who complains if he has a whole church as a workshop. And their skills are quite considerate. Where have they learned sewing,,, by themselves of course.


And it is not surprising that this demanding business was started by the two ladies at an age where some others might be turning thoughts about retiring and the way they will spent the rest of their lives. There is no slowing down here in this part of town and we have never heard  the expression " too old " which had a relieving effect on us. The spirit in the township is the opposite to some European countries where everything has to happen when you are young.


The success of their business is based on the fact that they do know their costumers, that they have found their market and that the quality of their products is of a very high standard. There is mutual understanding and respect for each other and a shared love for peanut butter and Rooiboos tea.


The recipe is easy, they say:  " TRADITIONAL WILL NEVER BE OUT OF FASHION ".
And do it as the costumers want it. !


But although cherish the way a lady dresses.....

IF YOU CAN NOT DANCE


IF YOU CAN NOT DANCE YOU CAN STILL CLAP YOUR HANDS


                               RIGHT ?



TALKING IS NOT EASY

" I wish the young people would ask more for our stories. 
Because if they don't we will loose our history. 
For a people who has been oppressed it is very important to know where we come from. 
But we are old and talking is also not easy all the time."


  Resident in the second house of Ethembeni

OLD AGE

    Resident of the Ethembeni Old Age Home

There is a West-African proverb that says : " If an old person dies it is like if a library burns ".

Sunday, February 21, 2010

GROWING UP

When you look at a child's face you see if it is happy and at peace. This little boy is. The serious expression on his face was triggered by our camera. 


And so was his.....


Both boys stay in a creche with other children and are well taken care off.
Talking about pretty girls found everywhere in Mdantsane I think it is obvious that this little girl has understood at an early age very well the possibility that she might become a future beauty queen. And she seizes the chance to demonstrate it to us.



A beauty queen not only in Mdantsane because posing comes as easy as eating her deliciously prepared bowl of butternut soup that she has left out of sight to show us her talent. Her soup gets eaten by another kid. But she  might be able to conquer the world later...


The smile is nearly perfect, there is no lack of confidence and the attitude is right.


But on the contrary her little male companion is not so sure if he should pursue a career as a model or rather stick to his chips. 


Being a child in Mdantsane means for most children being loved and cherished by their parents, families as well as the community. Even when families have little material wealth, initiatives are taken by the community to satisfy a child's need. Parents seek education and a better life for their children and they are willing to do the impossible to achieve this goal.
There are numerous creches that are run and managed by dedicated loving and caring women and girls.


Like the four ladies in the picture who manage a crash together which is located in a church. Children can stay there until 1 clock.

  
Games are played, food is prepared and a little obligatory nap is held to give the care-givers a well deserved break.


Improvised equipment and self made shelves and a wooden play stove makes the place even more colorful.


And in the end our little friend has decided to be in the picture.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails