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DAY THIRTEEN: “The clothes are our blood”

Starting off our day at 8:00am we found ourselves sitting in the car for an hour waiting for one of my colleagues subjects who had not kept the time of our appointment with him, a terrible lesson in the importance of punctuality.

After waiting for some time we decided to take a drive to Yeoville’s mountain top to get some shots of the city’s skyline and to our own surprise get a a little “spiritual healing”. The praying men and women who we found on the mountain gave me a little bit of security to the otherwise seemingly dangerous environment.
After warning my thrill seeking colleagues on the dangers of standing on the edge of the mountain, we decided to go and check on the late academic-barber Luc.
When Luc finally decided to arrive, we headed for the Yeoville library, where I felt like a kid in a candy store when I found a book written by Alice Walker which distracted from the project for a few minutes, but later brought me back to senses.

After the interview, we headed off to interview the extraordinary gentlemen at a tailor in the area Rue Du Fouburg, when met one of the most of my the extravagant men of them all, his name is Ace “like the mealie meal”, said the well-dressed gentleman who wore a black Dolce Gabbana coat and harem pants from Zara.

He was introduced to us by his cousin, Aladiji who is also a Sapeur but wore his everyday clothes when he met us. Aladiji unlike his cousin is more shy and soft spoken, which perhaps offered an interesting contrast to the two men who for that moment represented the difference between “ordinary men” and the La Sapeur.

“The clothes are our blood”, said Ace who echoed the attitudes of the La SAPE when he suggested that the price of the clothes don’t matter, it’s who wears the clothes that matters.

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DAY TEN: BEAUTY QUEENS AND TEARS

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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.

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DAY NINE: A NEW ANGLE?

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.

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DAY EIGHT: A FISHY SITUATION

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.

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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.

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ELECTIONS: Nkandla resident casts his vote for the party that brought water and gas to his family

 

NKANDLA VOTES: Nkandla resident James Dlalala voted ANC at  the Jan Hofmeyer community centre today. Photo: Luke Matthews

NKANDLA VOTES: Nkandla resident James Dlalala voted ANC at the Jan Hofmeyer community centre today. Photo: Luke Matthews

 

James Dlalala is from the town of Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal and today he cast his vote in Johannesburg as part of the national general elections.

Voting almost 500 kilometres away from the town that is the talk of the election period this year, Dlalala admits he was not persuaded to vote for any other party but the African National Congress (ANC) despite the negative publicity around Nkandla.

“We didn’t have gas and water before the ANC,” said  healthcare worker Dlalala.

Despite the controversy surrounding the security upgrades to President Zuma’s homestead in Nkandla, Dlalala is adamant that the ANC  “has helped South Africans more than it has damaged them,” citing the building of hospitals in rural KwaZulu-Natal as one of the developments that has been introduced to the area.

Dlalala, who is from the section of iPholela in Nkandla, insists the report released last month by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is not an accurate representation of President Jacob Zuma. “I don’t trust that this is the truth … Nkandla is a beautiful place”.

After casting his vote at  the Jan Hofmeyer community centre in Vrededorp, Dlalala was not shy to say: “I don’t breathe in the DA – it is difficult to speak on the DA.”

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