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.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ethel - Life As A Female Car Guard

It was last year around Christmas, that I saw Ethel for the first time. She is the only female car guard I know.
May be, in the bigger South African cities there are more women who earn a living like this, but not in East London.

Two days ago I saw her again, sitting on the small wall at the Esplanade in Quigney. I stopped to have a chat with her.

Ethel works in the area around the Wimpy. Although the sky was of the brightest beautiful South African blue and the ocean was calm and looked like in the Mediterranean, this day the Esplanade had a lonely and deserted feel. Municipal workers were setting up the yearly Christmas decorations on the street lights.

She is close to seventy years old, but does not know her real age. Everyday she travels from Mdantsane, NU2, where she lives, to the Esplanade. 
Last year she got hit by a car on the road and severly injured. She spent several weeks in hospital. She has what she calls, a big plate in her right chest, which is very painful often. Since then she walks with her upper body bent to one side.

" The doctors told me that I will have to go to the hospital again to have the plate removed because something is not right, " Ethel says.
My question as to why she still wanted to work as a car guard after having such a serious accident and considering the fact that guarding cars is obviously a male dominated and sometimes also violent field of work, where competiton is not taken lightly, she said :
" It is still easier than at home ". 

" Some of the men are not happy to have me here, but I just stay out of their way .May be they don't chase me because I am short and old. Others think I am crazy ".
Ethel is not more than 1,40 m tall.

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