Africa

 

Faces of South Africa
Text and Photography
By Toby Saltzman

Rush hour in Soweto sends an endless stream of people across a long bridge that spans one of the city's saddest pockets of life, yet overlooks, in the distance, suburban areas burgeoning with prosperity. Standing on the bridge, facing waves of locals returning from work, I was struck by the similarities of expressions, the determined pride and calm perseverance lining the faces that passed me by. Under the bridge, perched on rickety chairs alongside clusters of makeshift booths piled with aromatic spices, used tools and odd wheels, I saw merchants whose eyes spoke volumes of enduring patience. Nearby, outside humble tin shacks, where families clustered around tables laden with over-ripe fruits and vegetables for sale, I couldn't help noticing (the lingering challenges of prejudice and hardships aside) the indomitable spirit etched onto the faces of the men, women and children who eyed me with intent curiosity. If it's trite to say that one admires a country for its people, that day in the heart of Soweto, I gained a new admiration for the people striving to rise above their pasts. Interestingly - even though the veil of apartheid is lifted, and North Americans consider it politically incorrect - most indigenous South Africans still distinguish themselves as "Blacks" or "Coloreds". The Blacks pride themselves on their purebred African bloodline. The Coloreds pride themselves on their mixed heritage, often of Dutch, English, Afrikaans or East Indian descent. Each of these faces evokes memories of my magnificent trip to South Africa.


Sheeps heads for sale: In the Black
Townships of Capetown, a woman
wearing chalk makeup sells sheeps'
heads that are discarded by butchers
catering to the upper classes.

 

 

Rush hour in Soweto: A mother
returns to the Johannesburg suburb
after stopping at the day care center. .

 

An enterprising family sells ripe
fruits and vegetables outside their
corrugated tin house in Soweto.


In the new Black Townships outside
Capetown, colorful clapboard houses
boast gardens with picket fences.

 


The suburban Dream: A proud Black
mother shows off her baby in front
of her new, subsidized stucco house.

  A young girl thrives in a new
Black Townships school.

 

New dignity for the elderly. This avid
gardener was elected Chairman of the
new suburban seniors' home built to

house Coloreds and Blacks.

 

 


Cheerful siblings pose in the
garden of their new suburban home.

 

 

Daycare workers on break in the
nursery school playground
.

 
Among the poigant memorabilia in Capetown's historic District Six Museum are samples of
passports, mandatory during the apartheid era,
that classified South Africans by race
as White, Black or Colored.


Singers in the "Pafana Ma Africa"
troupe wear Zulu makeup.

 

 

A "Pafana Ma Africa" dancer
high-steps to the frenetic beat
of traditional Zulu drums.

The "Pafana Ma Africa" troupe is
famed throughout South Africa for
their music and acrobatic dancing.

 

 

 


Jazz thrives in Capetown's nightclubs.


A guitar player plays
neo-traditional South African music.

 
The brightly costumed Cape
Coons Mistrels tour the country
with rousing gospel songs and
energetic dance routine.

Dr. Balie runs the Genadendal Mission
Museum. The only museum in SA to
be named a National Cultural Treasure,
it exists in a 1737 mission founded to
convert the Khoikhoi African natives
to Christianity.
.
 


This mother and daughter team are active in Capetown's new suburban Black community.
Mother is a social worker at a seniors' home.
Daughter runs tours to the area.

 


A popular Capetown guide
who specializes in Cultural
tours of Capetown revels
in his new prosperity.

 

An ex-prisoner of Robben Island,
where Nelson Mandela was also
confined, leads guided tours to
the Robben Island prison.

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