25 Years after the Berlin Wall came down a new wall is erected in the outskirts of our village. The municipality wanted to buy land from a chicken farmer for the extension of the ‘location’ (township) but the chicken farmer was not happy with that; afraid that more chickens would be stolen by poor hungry people. After 10 years of negotiation an agreement was signed. The land sold but a wall erected to keep unwanted intruders away from the farm.
I’m not a sports photographer and I will never aspire a career in this specialization. But I was asked to shoot some pictures this afternoon at a soccer match. The local Rotary initiated a volunteers program for students from the USA. These students had a busy week; creating a garden at a school in a township, washing dogs with tick/flee shampoo and diverse other ’empowerment projects’. This afternoon they celebrated their weekend with a soccer match against a team of ‘townshippers’. It was like US-shoes versus African feet. Despite the shoes the students were no match for the locals. And at the end of the match, a group photo of both teams and food for all.
Took this shot last month. These little guys showed me around in their location (township) near our village. Forgot their names (Xhosa names are sometimes difficult to pronounce; especially for relative outsiders) but they turned out to be great guides and great friends. I learned and experienced a bit of the harsh conditions quite a few people in South Africa undergo on a daily base.
Out of gratitude for their warm and personal hospitality:
I just figured out that I delete about 9 out of 10 pictures while they are still in the camera and once filed on the hard disk I delete about half of the ‘chosen ones’. And still I am in doubt about the ‘left-overs’. That also applies for the photoshopped elements (“imaginaries” as I call these). Normally I erase about 6 or 7 out of 10 after finishing them and later 1 or 2 others by review. Of the latter ones here a few examples plus a few examples of pictures which, on third/fourth thought also will be trashed…. Still a long way to go but (originally a Dutch expression) “Practice makes perfect”.
The image above is a photoshopped ‘cross breed’ between the flowers of a cactus and a succulent plant from South Africa. The large picture below is that of ‘Township mothers in South Africa photographing the future for later’ and is an impression of the graduation ceremony and township/location visit I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. The second imaginary below is what I named ‘Traditional values’
Remember me going to the Graduation Ceremony of the pre-primary school in a nearby location (township) in South Africa? Well here is what I distilled from the few hundred pictures I made. It’s about children and the joy people have despite severe poverty. And also about a community leader as one of the many who made it all possible. There is not much written history about the different tribes in South Africa and certainly not much from books is known to people in communities like this. But they inherited a story-telling culture and history flows in one or another way from generation to generation. Not the history of facts but a history of ancestry and spirituality. Due to influences of modern times the cultural heritage is threatened with ‘uprooting’ leaving people without knowledge about their cultural background and without hope, without future….
I’m not a graphic designer neither do I have the ambition to become one. But I love graphics for it can add a dimension to a picture.
The first image (imaginary) is that of the small ‘location’ (also named ‘township’) “Die KOP” just outside our village. South Africa is a Black & White country with some grey areas in between. Die KOP consists of approximately 40 to 50 shacks and five different families live there peacefully together in good harmony. There is no decent sanitation within this location and water has to be collected a 100+ meters away at the pre-primary school (fully privately funded and exploited by NGO Food for Thought in co-junction with parents of the community). People live of occasional jobs and seasonable work and are happy with what they have although there is ambition to make more out of it.
The second imaginary is that of a self-portrait or self-reflection. There are always more sides to a story and the same applies for humans (who tell the stories). I’m not an exception and looking into the mirror every now and than is not a bad habit. And I like colors and nature. Graphics (in this case manipulated natural objects/photographs) in the background can emphasize the idea behind it. I must admit (again) that I’m not that good in it but at least trying hard….