Wits Vuvuzela

DAY SEVENTEEN: “THEY’RE TRYNA CATCH ME RIDIN’ DIRTY”

Having spent the past two weeks in Yeoville and seen some weird stuff happen I was gobsmacked by what happened today, and to be honest I wasn’t emotionally prepared for what was to come. We drove into Yeoville looking to speak to one of my colleagues subjects on the hustle of Yeoville, but we were distracted by the police presence and the closed stores on Rockey’s alley way. According to the shop owners the police were conducting their usual rounds and were checking to look for any drugs or illegal possessions in the stores, including the illegal immigrants. My group members characters had also suspiciously disappeared from their stores, which become a site of comic relief for me – because what is there to do in the face of adversity but to laugh.

After trying to get a few comments from the on-lookers on their response to the police’ presence we decided to go back to the original characters who had come back, but quickly disappeared when they saw us with the camera equipment. We decided to retreat to the car, to essentially ‘gather ourselves’ when the we heard and saw the biggest crowd migrate to the sidelines of the street- and there before our eyes the perfect scene. A convoy of police vans and cars leading people towards the back of a police car. In an instant, we decided to get permission from the Constable to shoot, and he surprising agreed to the request. Minutes later a man came rushing towards us and screams by the police who were signalling to other police members to hold him down. The man was eventually caught by the police and given what could easily be referred to as a “beat down”.

Other members of the police were also searching the back of people’s cars and vendors plastics, including searching mens groin for “drugs” they said. The whole scene stopped being funny very quickly when a man roamed around in the street shouting at the police to arrest him, because it was obvious they were arresting people according to where they come from – the search had taken a clear xenophobic discourse.

The day ended with us having captured enough footage but the reality we left behind sat there in the back of minds like an ugly reminder of Yeoville’s reality.

Advertisements
Standard
Wits Vuvuzela

DAY SIXTEEN: “SHOW ME THE MONEY WHAT-WHAT?”

Disappointment takes different shapes and forms – and for the first time on my in-depth project I encountered the worst disappointment – my subjects wanted to be paid R500.00 to be exact. This was a conversation I had over the phone with one of the Sapeur who was meant to meet with me earlier on today. “Can you give me R500.00” asked the man who later retreated his statement saying we could meet on Saturday in Alberton for a video shoot, but didn’t answer his phone later that day. This was the first time I thought my multimedia was compromised  and for the first time I was worried at the prospect of it not being good enough. However, this also reminded me that our characters are taking time off their busy schedules to work with student journalists on a project that will benefit us instead of them.

To be fair I wasn’t surprised at the request my character made, because in Yeoville the hustle is everything and I was just a recipient of this culture and given the high levels of unemployment in the area I became sympathetic towards him. As a result I spent my day mourning the loss of my perfect video idea but later tried to piece out other ideas that would help my video project so that I would have something to produce to my mentors. I also spent most of my researching more video ideas and the things I had to do to achieve in order to make it a half decent video. I also managed to re-shoot more material of my subject so that more of my footage would be in-focus, which turned out to work out in my favor as I could control the image of the video and the course that I wanted the video to take. Hopefully, it will all work for the better.

 

Standard
Wits Vuvuzela

DAY FOURTEEN: “Are they doing in-depth too”

 

VERSACE, VERSACE, VERSACE: Ace looking into the distance at the Kin-Malebo pub.

VERSACE, VERSACE, VERSACE: Ace looking into the distance at the Kin-Malebo pub.

Driving in Yeoville on a late Sunday afternoon and after a long day of shooting, one can manage to find humour in odd  ways. One of these ways was when my group members and saw white people (according to the population groups act)  in the neighborhood we would jokingly  ask “Are they doing in-depth too”. The joke followed through the rest of our time in Yeoville, where we also had to a stop in Hillbrow to shoot an interview with Dorcus – an openly  gay Zimbabwean man living in Yeoville who has the personality of a thousand comedians. The visit to Dorcus’s place  became an adventure for me too, because it was also the first time I actually saw the beauty of Johannesburg’s inner city from the sixth floor of a building. After waiting for a few minutes for his sister to open the door for us, we walked into the  a decent living space with spacious rooms and hardwood floors that creaked every now then. We were welcomed by  a group of smiling loud women who, from the empty beer bottles it was clear that they had already indulged in some ‘happy juice’.

The interview was conducted in Zulu/Xhosa as Dorcus and laughs were had when at the mention of Dorcus’ past relationship experiences. After the interview we went back to Yeoville to do an interview with and mini-fashion show with Ace (pronounced A-say) who is a La Sape living in Yeoville. Ace is a feisty individual with an incredible sense of humor who unashamedly said that if he were to win the lottery he would get out of Yeoville. He tried on a number of different outfits for us for us to see, all of which were name brands that matched his personality but not his budget.

Driving in the city we also stopped to witness what looked like a Nigerian wedding, near the Mc Donalds but the convoy missed us just before we could take a picture,  we decided to go for ice-cream and to relax before heading out to shoot again.

Standard
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. 

Standard
Wits Vuvuzela

DAY 5: (SUN) DAY in Yeoville.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On Sunday in Yeoville everyone is dressed in their Sunday best and all are well-behaved, meaning the wolf-whistles and occasional hand grabs become somewhat of an anomaly.

Perhaps the streets which are packed with people walking up and down dressed in various religious garb adds a certain air of quaintness to the otherwise ‘hustler’ atmosphere.

My Sunday in Yeoville was spent interviewing manager of the Kin-Malebo bar Francis Lokake (34) who hosts the Sapeurs of the Congo in his bar. Our conversation, although short revolved around the society of elegant gentleman and their importance in the neighborhood and keeping the culture of the Congolese in a different space.

We discussed xenophobia in the neighborhood, which according Lokake is prevalent and ‘worrying’.

“I knew about apartheid when I was in school… our teacher would always ask us to contribute for our fellow blacks who are suffering,” said Lokake who mentioned he doesn’t understand the culture of xenophobia in the neighborhood.

Things took on to a lighter subject, when we started discussing clothes and how clothes add to the political economy of elegance, the idea that someone who comes from a poor background can afford to wear a ZAR1000.00 suit.

My first confrontation of the politics of elegance happened when a colleague was interviewing a Congolese barber, whose friend who introduced himself as Lucien Baheta a school teacher around the area wore a Gucci belt which was hidden under his otherwise lackluster outfit.

Time also stood still when we accompanied a colleague to a Jewish/Muslim’s musicians home, which looked like Yeoville in the 1980s, clinical but historically loaded. A piano sat neatly in her living room, while a picture of Uncle Sam hung on the wall.
Our day ended with us confirming a few more interviews with the Congolese community around the area, another great day listening to people’s stories.

Standard
Wits Vuvuzela

DAY TWO: Where are the models?

CONGO BEAUTIFUL: The pamphlet for the Miss Congo (South Africa) nationwide auditions. Photo: Facebook

CONGO BEAUTIFUL: The pamphlet for the Miss Congo (South Africa) nationwide auditions. Photo: Facebook

Beauty and vanity dicated my second day trip into Yeoville when I found myself on YouTube researching the neighborhood and it’s history. I found myself coming across videos which re-tell the story of suburb in different ways, with none of them interesting me.

Irritated by the lack of creativity from videographers, I decided to take a mental break from the research to watch a video on beauty pageants and it was there when genius struck.

POSE FOR THE CAMERA: Former second Princess of the Miss Congo/South Africa Laetitia Fwamba. Photo: Facebook

POSE FOR THE CAMERA: Former second Princess of the Miss Congo/South Africa Laetitia Fwamba. Photo: Facebook

Keying in “beauty pageants in Yeoville” I found Miss Congo (South Africa) an interesting title, which gestures to the large community of Congolese living in the neighborhood.

On their Facebook page, I got contacts and immediately found that the organisers are in their last day of the audition registration process. Udetta (one of the event organizers) was the first person I made contact with who told me of the details of the pageant, including a boot camp all contestants go through, prior to being chosen as Miss Congo (South Africa).

Yeoville however echoed a different sentiment to the beauty pageant community. Upon arrival at the Congolese church where the registration process takes place, I was met with dazed and confused expressions when I inquired about the registration of the pageant.
The security guard at the church (it’s part of the Yeoville tradition) directed
me to a shop owner who told us the registration was closed.

He said the lady who was taking the details had left, but gave us the details of a modelling agent who was conducting the search – a disappointment to what would have been a great day.

Standard