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.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lucky's Mfowethu Spaza

Lucky's Mfowethu Spaza in NU 5

There are at least 100.000 spaza shops in South Africa with an estimated 40.000 located in Gautend - with a collective turnover of R 7 billion per annum. Spaza Shops or Tuck Shops are informal convenience shops, usually run from home.

They also serve the purpose of supplementing household incomes of the owners, selling everyday small household items.

These shops grew as a result of sprawling townships, that made travel to formal shopping places more dirfficult or expensive.

Each Spaza shop employs in average one or two people.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Close Up On The Iron Maidens

We have received two e-mails yesterday from our readers requesting a close-up of the Iron Maidens. So I am just posting the images quickly without a lot of words. 

The author and editor of this journal is constantly practising a balancing act by writing for two groups of readers (and the author is very happy about this fact). There is one group, that knows very little or nothing at all about townships and then there is the second one, that is living the reality of it each and every day. The first group has a lot of questions and the second one wants to look in a mirror and see themselves as clear as possible.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Irons Maidens Of Mdantsane

Last year I visited an informal settlement that borders the section of NU3 and stretches quite far to the railway line. The shacks are perched on the slopes with ample space and fields between them. The whole area has a rural character

Yes, it is the settlement that has been recently visited by Government Officials. But I do not know its name. If you do recognize some of the buildings and you know the name, please tell me, so that I can include it in this article. I know that all informal settlements and squatter camps have names, that are relevant to their creation and history.

I spend an entire morning there and came home with more stories and some great shots of what I call the "Mdantsane Informal Architecture".

Our focus in our articles is never on poverty and deprivation, it is evident there is great poverty and we do not think that repeating it over and over again, alleviates it. Our focus is on what people do to escape poverty. And by looking at the amazing, sometimes excruciating efforts people undertake to build a home for themselves, have a meal, find transport or take care of their children, others who are in a better situation might feel touched and might want to step into the picture.

The way in which shacks are built in informal settlements was born out of pure necessity and poverty - and in the end it has become an art. 

I was invited to have tea with one of the shack-owners. 
I call them the "Iron Maidens", he said lighting a cigarette, and looking at our Government, I guess they will still be with us for quite a while".  


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