Wits Vuvuzela

DAY ELEVEN: Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has a story to tell.

Everyday in Yeoville is an experience and meeting different people everyday means that everyday you’re learning someones story. They  grant you permission to enter into their lives and peek into their  human experience so that you attempts at finding the essence of who they are – the core of their life journeys. The granting of this permission is no easy feat, because in order for you to do this you need to make the effort of allowing them to see a part of you and tell a bit of your own story too. This exchange of ideas and stories then becomes grounds for a conversation worthy of a video package, because you have allowed people to be themselves.  I realized this when I interviewed a woman, Patricia who is a La Sape as part of my in-depth multimedia project. Patricia told me her story because, just like many of the La Sape members she believes in showcasing her culture and clothes to maintain and uphold the values of her Congolese culture.

Besides being a La Sape Patricia is also the mother of five children and a wife to a husband she refers to as “Papa”. She like many of the other immigrants living on Yeoville who are struggling to make ends meet, is making a living as a hairdresser in the area. Patricia’s story is not a novel one. Like many other immigrants living in the neighborhood who are struggling to make ends meet she finds refuge in making herself and others look beautiful –  like a true La Sape. 



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The tenth day of my Yeoville in-depth project was spent at our rival university: University of Johannesburg for the Miss Congo South Africa beauty bootcamp. While walking down the pathways of the university I couldn’t help but compare the two universities and I realised I had internal hierarchy which placed WITS at the top, but to fair we were ranked the one university in Africa, so…

My day with the Congolese beauties began with an opening prayer by the production team who asked for protection over the 43 girls who were taking place in the competition and it was then that I immediately felt the Congolese spirit of unity.
The boot camp began with each of the girls’ individually introducing themselves to the panel of judges, which was made up of musicians, models, engineers and television producers.

Each girl was asked to tell the judges a bit about themselves, including their hobbies and where they live – but with some even being brought to tears by their nerves and one of the judges had to step in to offer a hug of support and calm their nerves.

The mood changed significantly when the contestants were asked to wear their traditional attire and explain their significance of their chosen attires to the judges, along with the cultural heritage it carries.

Along with this, the girls were asked to perform which ranged from singing, dancing and reciting poems. The audience was also treated to some humour when the boot camp resembled an Idols Wooden Mic contest.
Most of the question were conducted in English, but French was the language the girls resorted to when trying to explain themselves.

The boot camp concluded when the top twenty girls were chosen to go through to the finals, which will take place on the 14th of December.



I became a terrible cliche when while I was preparing breakfast I managed to burn the bacon, because I was on the phone with a contact from Yeoville who was giving me an update on my story. “This could be a scene out of a movie” I thought, while trying to sound relaxed while I was managing a crisis.

The new developments in my story means I will be able to redefine my angle as I was struggling with what to do with my feature and multimedia package.

The feature will now focus largely on the LA Sape movement, which is predominantly made up of men and is seemingly a gender baised. However, my contact told me of the women of the LA Sape who are often sidelined by the Congolese community. This comes as a relief (the new angle and not the sidelining), as my main character from my previous story as been busy lately and has been unable to meet with me.

My day will be spent reworking my features and working on my story board as I prepare for Miss Congo SA bootcamp tomorrow and on Sunday i’ll be back at Kin-Malebo to interview more of the well dressed gentlemen.



Walking in the streets of Yeoville in 27 degree Celsius weather day means occasionally using your hands as a fan to try to cool yourself down, however these attempts prove to be both useless and taxing.

Our hot day in Yeoville saw us (my group members and i) go to Tandoor, the much celebrated rastafarian hang out spot in the area, where one of my colleagues was due to have an interview. The pub was relatively empty given that it was 12:30 in the afternoon, but those who were there were sitting around lazily drinking beer and watching what looked like a Jamaican movie on the overhead projector.

We spent most of our day there and left with go to the barber, where my colleagues main character was too busy to be shot so we had to postpone for a later date. While walking the road however we were hit by the overwhelming smell of sea-fish, which made you wonder if Yeoville had a fish market nearby.

We were right in our assumptions of the smell of sea-fish but the fish market turned out to the back of a mans bakkie(car van)who was selling huge river fish from the back of his bakkie.

One of the fish was still moving, which made me wonder where he would get “fresh” fish in the Gauteng area, when he told me that caught them from the Vaal River, which is an hour away from Johannesburg.

Anyway he seemed happy to show us the fish and their huge size, saying we should take picture so he could use them to advertise his business.
I found this statement interesting because it serves as reminder of all the hustle that Yeoville is, everyone in the neighborhood seems to be in a symbiotic relationship with each other all in the effort to try and get a better life.

Wits Vuvuzela

DAY SEVEN: A boxers handshake

I have never been warned against shaking the hand of a boxer but now that I think back on it, I probably should have been. My pint sized hand was shocked by the stern handshake of a Congolese boxer, when he was introducing himself to us. Luckily I wasn’t the only one who felt this way my  colleagues were just as taken aback by the stern handshake, when we all shook the pain off  our hands to lessen the pain after we had bid him adieu!

A colleague of mine was interviewing him as part of her story on academics living in Yeoville and one wouldn’t think that the tall man with a firm handshake has a Masters degree and also a “book about my life story” on the way.

Before we met the boxer-academic our day in Yeoville could only be described as “lack-lusture” when made our first stop at the barber shop where I was collecting a DVD on the culture of Sapeurs, when we also bumped into Francis the “homophobe” who had assumed the role of a manicurist for the day.

Today marked my seventh day in Yeoville and I’m familiarizing myself with the environment. I’m beginning to see what the people of Yeoville see.


DAY SIX: “The devil is a liar”

Romans 15:7 “Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.

“devil worshipers” and “satan” were just some of the terms used to describe transvestites and gay men and women by a salon owner in Yeoville today. The man who described himself as a “Christian”, told my colleagues and I about how homosexuality is the devils work and people who are should be “killed”.

We had initially walked in the barbershop to collect some DVD’s promised to me by the academic-barber about the Sapeurs, which was going to give my story more background information on the culture, but while we waited for him to return from the bank we had a conversation with the salon owner.
Our conversation with Frank began when one of my colleagues was looking for characters for her story about the neighborhoods reception towards the homosexual community and what we found was well, shocking.

Frank is what you describe as a “manly-man,” given his tall stature and baritone which could easily send one into submission. He explained his position on homosexuality as he braided a woman customers hair, (i’m assuming given my history with black-girl-hair) to sow in a weave. I found this juxtaposition amusing so I pointed it out to him, but was met with an unimpressed look.

Frank however was not the only one in the salon who shared the same feelings. Another male customer who was looting around the salon after he had got his hair-cut also shared the same sentiments as Frank, telling us to stop coming into places to ask about devil-worshipers and later offered to pray for my sanctity.

Our conversation ended when my wait for the DVD’s ended in disappointment as my academic-barber took too long at the bank and my group had other appointments to attend to.

As a spiritual being I was taken aback by the remarks made by these men, but it brings me comfort to know that not all Christians follow the same doctrine.