We live in a socially complex country in which people of different races were once assigned different places to live within the same towns. These restrictions no longer exist, yet the division remains an economic one. I spent eight years working among the people who reside in what was called ‘the township’ in Grahamstown East – an area historically set aside for ‘people of colour’. I was part of an organisation that set up pre-schools, home care groups and ran a feeding scheme for pre-school children. It was my task to oversee these programmes as well as to raise funds for their educational equipment and running costs. I organised regular training and upgrading workshops to help the teachers, many of whom had not necessarily even finished their own schooling. During those years I got to know that part of town and many of the people who live there very well.
This is a typical view of homes built close together. Several yards contain corrugated iron shacks to accommodate more people, while others boast trees or vegetable garden.
While the more recently developed areas contain larger modern brick houses, there are still a lot of what are commonly called ‘matchbox houses’. Some of these have been extended over time to make them more spacious.
In the older part only the arterial roads have been tarred and the rest of the streets tend to be dirt. The newer areas have tarred streets and proper pavements.
Some young boys are playing a ball game on a section of open, far from level, ground.
Goats roam freely.
As do cattle.
Sadly, it is not uncommon to see rubbish strewn about.
The local municipality has a lot to answer for.