This is an article that Gaynor Young from www.earearblog.com that she wrote about five years ago after just having had a Cochlear Implant.
“Picture a person in a darkened room. The light is off. The curtains drawn closed.
The objects in the room are merely dark shapes. The person moves unsteadily, unsure
where to put her feet.
This article was written by Justin Foxton and first appeared in The Mercury on Monday 21st January 2013.
One reaches a wonderful age and stage when birthday gifts can generally be eaten, drunk or read. As I love all three of these pursuits, my recent 40thwas a straight win.
Amongst the cultural and viticultural pleasures that I had bestowed upon me, one stood out as a rare gem that will inspire me for many years to come; Cape Town based photographer Dale Yudelman’s sublime photographic essay “Life under Democracy”.
Containing over two hundred pages of photographs, this book is a profound pictorial account of ordinary life in a democratic South Africa. The introduction best describes this simple and powerful piece of work: “Quarrying for answers in the murky regions of the blindingly familiar is what Dale Yudelman does best.”
Shortly after receiving this book I embarked on a road trip with my wife and 20 month old baby daughter. With Yudelman’s images fresh in my mind; a can of Glade air freshener bolted to the wall in the Voortrekker Monument toilet; a homeless person wearing Pooh Bear slippers; ordinary people living free lives – we began to look at South Africa through a different lens. For what this book gave us was an insight into another aspect of what makes South Africa unique. This uniqueness lies beyond that of the sweeping vistas of sea and sand, bush and berg that we are, rightly, so proud of and beyond the gilt-edged tourist marketing shots of traditionally clad folk wearing little but warm welcoming smiles.
This uniqueness lies in the utterly ordinary; in the stuff we take for granted or have simply stopped seeing; in the jokes and riddles, the plain and the paradoxical; the little nothingness’s that we pass every day but which we have stopped pondering; stopped laughing at, stopped crying over – because we have been blinded by their familiarity.
On this road trip we saw a side to South Africa that would ordinarily have gone unnoticed in our relentless pursuit of the Big 5 or the next shot of yet another breathtaking vista.
We saw the hard working entrepreneurs making a living at the numerous ‘stop/go’s’ that frustrate one’s progress on our national roads. Up and down they trudged, working the queue of cars in the baking heat trying to flog their vetkoek, cold drinks, fruit and sweets.
We saw their faces – really saw their faces. They were caked with sweat and dust and tiredness but their eyes were filled with a resolve that would insist that, in spite of most of us turning our noses up at their wares, they would continue to work that queue of cars.
We saw the endless roadworks, generally so angering for travelers who just wants to get to where they are going. Those roadworks painted a picture that we hadn’t seen before; a picture of progress; a picture of whatishappening in our country.
We saw the public swimming pool at a holiday destination in Mpumalanga. What was once a typical apartheid vakansie-oord (holiday resort) was now welcoming of all, and our little black daughter swam happily with the old timers, their children and grandchildren.
We saw a new breed of visitor frequenting the Kruger National Park. Not so long ago it seemed that the park was largely the domain of older white folk. Now young Black, Indian and coloured families relished the world class game viewing and the parks excellent view points and picnic spots.
Just in case we became giddy with euphoria at a 2013 South Africa, we regularly saw a sight that most of us hardly consider let alone become outraged at; human beings – dozens of them – packed onto the back of bakkies and small trucks. In the pouring rain, in the searing heat – men and women squeezed together, their faces pressed up against sidebars used to restrain cattle and sheep in transit. In most cases the driver was white and the people on the back were black. We saw in those workers’ faces their humiliation; their degradation; their tired resignation at a fate that would keep them forevermore, poor as caged animals. Such sights were a regular reminder that apartheid – both economic and social – is still very much alive and well.
We marveled at the absurd kindness of South Africans as truck drivers pulled over into the emergency lane to let us past. We flicked our hazard lights – the nationally accepted gesture of thanks at such courteous driving. The truck drivers flashed their lights to thank us for thanking them. We raised a hand – to thank them for thanking us for thanking them. Between us we had broken several laws of the road – all in the name of decency.
If you allow them to, Dale Yudelman’s images will give you fresh eyes with which to view this unique land of ours. They will surely stir pride, a gentle smile, a wince of pain – maybe even a call to action. For more information visit http://www.daleyudelman.com/
For more on how to get involved go to www.sayhello.co.za.
All over the world people have inflicted unspeakable violence on other people. Every day we read
about the viciousness that human beings can unleash on each other.
But is violence, malice, hatred and wrong doing the true nature of human beings? I beg to differ
because If wrong was the norm it wouldn’t be news.
The story below is by Karen de Villiers from London Green Africa.
My loyalty was unquestionable. When there were rumours, I stood like Delacroix’s ‘Liberty leading the people’ on my little pile of loyalty. If I strayed, it was for cheaper fares. Otherwise I was resolute in my devotion to my national airline, South African Airways.
Do you remember the time you decided to drop me to a lower tier? Ripped away my extra 10kg and easy check-in because you thought I wasn’t flying enough? I had never flown more that year but nothing could persuade you to give me back my lounge privileges.
Throughout our history we can observe that often the most significant changes have
been brought about by seemingly insignificant events. It is also true that, as cultural
anthropologist Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful
committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”