One question I regularly get asked by people is “What is Africa like?” My typical answer is “Hot.” But if they actually want to hear more than that I pull out my photos and share my story. One of my passions is Africa and I love telling stories about my life, my job, my community, the culture, and the uniqueness of each tribe, town, region, and country. I plan on blogging a photo once a week with a bit of background about the piece. If you have any questions or want to know more about any of the topics just leave me a comment!
Title: Justice Tuck Shop
Location: Soweto (SOuth WEstern TOwnships) outside of Johannesburg, South Africa in August 2007
Background: Parts of Soweto are among the poorest in Johannesburg and economic development was limited by the lack of infrastructure and restrictions on black African businesses. While Soweto is now a thriving community it has taken decades to recover from apartheid conditions. This photo was taken in front at the Justice Tuck Shop (a local canteen that sells food items and small necessities) of a girl carrying water home. I snapped the photo because, for me, it perfectly expressed the juxtaposition between traditional African ways and the influence of Western culture. I find it intriguing that while South Africa is one of the most developed countries in Africa in regards to culture, clothing, technology, etc. parts of the country are still lacking electricity and running water. This was also true of the Namibian town where I lived. While there was strong infrastructure in the region; including paved roads, electricity, running water, and internet there were still many families in the community who shared communal bathrooms and water spigots, took bucket baths, and burned candles at night for light.
History of Soweto: After the implementation of apartheid, forced removals of black Africans from white designated areas increased, and townships were created on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Soweto, a combination of several townships to the southwest of Johannesburg, captured the attention of the world on June 16, 1976 when mass protests broke out over the South African government’s policy to enforce education in Afrikaans, the language of white Africans, rather than English. Students organized a peaceful march from Naledi High School to Orlando Stadium but were fired upon by police, which killed numerous people and started riots. The first death was that of Hector Pieterson, a 12 year old boy, who was shot by police when they opened fire on the students. The impact of these protests resonated nationally and internationally and put a face to the struggle for black Africans freedom. Following this event international economic and cultural sanctions were introduced by countries pressuring the government to end apartheid.