Today was really interesting, I got a tour across the townships and I learned more about the various South African cultures. It amazes me that the society is still divided by different ethnic groups because of the apartheid. Although everyone should be equal you still have the coloured, the blacks and the whites with their own parts in the city. Visiting the townships was really an impressive experience.
I went to a school were Ready4Life has a project that helps to educate children that have a learning disability. I was told the classrooms are 40-60 children and not all of them can follow the education that is given. A thing that I didn’t knew is that children in schools here are still being beaten as punishment. There aren’t schools in the townships because it’s to dangerous for teachers to educate the people there. Public transport is most of the times to expensive for people in the townships to use to get to school. So some children need to walk 1-2 hours day to get to school.
I visited a graveyard and was told that the average life expectancy is about 40-50 years. Because it’s between 40-50 years local people are also behaving like it and ageing quite fast, if you 40-50 it’s like 70-80 in the Netherlands. Some graves had a stone, others consisted only of dirt because the family doesn’t have any money. A lot of people here are Catholic that’s why most of the locals burry dead people. As I’ve been told, gravediggers dig the graves but the family will burry the body, this to prevent/protect the dead body from being cut by other people. (in some clans there is a bit of voodoo going on) At a certain moment I saw some cows walking between the graves, it was a bit weird to see. The photos of the townships in this blog post aren’t taken by myself but I’ve seen the same thing.
From the graveyard we went to the townships of the black people. People don’t have much in the townships and for example are illegally cutting of electricity, so the wires from the tapped electricity posts can be seen just lying on the ground. You need to watch were you walk so you don’t get electrocuted.
After visiting this township we went to the township of the coloured people, you noticed that there are more people on the streets just doing something. They’re trying to make a job out of every activity they know, just to get some money. A lot of people need to live from 9 ZAR a day (that’s about 0,65 euro). People are cooking on the streets to make some money, so I saw some living chickens in a shopping card that were being slaughtered in front of you if you ordered a chicken. You can’t get it any more ‘fresh’ then that, they do it this way because people can’t afford a fridge and a living chicken can’t rot.
During the township tour I also was told that in the Xhosa culture a man and woman aren’t equal in a relationship, the man decides everything and the woman is very protective of her man. For example if a husband cheats on his wife, his wife blames the women that he cheated with and it’s possible that she goes to pay her a visit (sometimes with a butcher knife or stuff like that, I leave it to your imagination what happens next!). Another remarkable thing is that children come last in the family. In The Netherlands when a child is born it’s most of the times the center of the family. In South Africa in a couple of cultures the most important is the man, after that the women and last the children.
Also I learned more about the different clans within the different kind of ethnic groups. If your born here you belong to a certain clan (the clan your farther is from). People from the same clan are seen as family. This means that people for example within their own clan can’t date. It’s seen as dating a relative. So the dating game here is quite different, because if you like a girl and you get to know her better and after a couple of weeks/months/years you know that she is from the same clan then they can’t have a relationship. You can imagine what happens if they already have a child together and then need to tell there family they’re from the same clan…
One of the reasons I went to South Africa was to do less with computers and more with people. So after a small talk we decided that I will also contribute to other projects when possible to get to know more about the South African culture and work with people. Also I’m going to help the one of the employees to expand his knowledge so he can take his last exam and receive his degree in January. He is a local and given an opportunity via Ready4Life. The goal for me is to help him by sharing my knowledge but he still needs to be able to do and understand everything I’ve teached him after I’m gone. So there is also going to be some help with documenting and things like that. It’s interesting to see how this will develop. On monday we will begin with his lessons.
In the afternoon there was an informal party with all the volunteers from Ready4Life. This is being done so new volunteers can meet other volunteers and also volunteers that work for different projects see each other. It was fun to meet a lot of new people.