Day 4: Started the day by driving myself over to Sonia’s house, this might not sound much but assure you driving over here is quite an adventure…
Sonia’s dad looks over the managment of schools within the Pretoria area, thats all schools black, white and mixed. He makes sure the principles arn’t embesiling all the money and that the teachers are in their classes. He invited me to come along with him to one of the all black schools within this massive shanty township called Shorsengove.
Having been protected from seeing the litteral “West side” of Pretoria the car ride there through the city centre and out the west side was quite an eye opener. It’s hard to convey just how uncomfortable I felt, most city centres I’ve seen are the business centre of a city this is not the case here, the city centre is loose. It’s full of blacks for starters no whites at all, there are people selling stuff from milkcrate stalls on the footpath all over the place, guys fixing cars on the footpath and heaps of people just hanging around. I wasn’t game enough to take photos.
One of the nicer streets in the city centre
As we got close to the township we passed the “upper class” area, These are tiny little brick houses that have inside toilets and power, Jon ( Sonia’s dad ) told me that the people living in this area don’t like to be accociated with the other “Shanty” areas.
Next was the drive trough to main more shanty part of the township, there’s the shantys to start with, they’re alot neater than I expected, they sweep all the dirt around their own little plot and keep it all clean, the actual construction of the shacks varies alot but as a whole they’re more square and have better doors and windows than I would have though. Also they’ve got these little roadside bussinesses dotted around, some of these are quite a site you’ve got the guys selling second hand (and I mean second hand) tyres, apparently they paint them black and then regrove them to recondition them…. dodgie. The pubs and hair dressing selons are pretty funny.
No it’s no the garden shed it’s the house!
They actually squeeze around 10 to 20 people in each one of these.
In the middle of all the garden shed style places you get this?
The local hair dressing salon.
The local pub.
Just for contrast here’s one of the better compounds that people live in, on the east side of Pretoria.
Apparently they paint the old ones black and dig out the groves a little then resell them.
Oh and one thing that is very different not just in the townships but all over Africa is the “public” transport, what they call taxis over here arn’t safe for white people for starters, secondarily there privatly own and run little comby van type mini buses, generaly in some state of disrepare, as an example Jon told me about a story that some police had pulled up a taxi that was driving eradicly to find that it didn’t have a stering wheel! the drive had an adjustable wrench on the nut and was stering it with that… thirdly they stuff them to the brim with people, it’s nott uncommon to hear about a single taxi crash where close to 30 people are killed or injured. These taxis are how all the blacks get to and from work, there are these huge taxi ranks where the taxis wait out the busasines hours of the day before they pick people up and drive them back home.
We made it to our destination whithout incident, we did catch out one of the vice principles who wasn’t at school, I couln’t understand the excuse he gave but it seemed half assed. When we arrived there it looked like it might have been little lunch or some other break, kids running around here and there general schoolyard noise, we headed in to see the principle who was this big black mumma whith nostrals the size of 20 cent pieces. Jon went over some issues with her and then we went out have a look at some class rooms, by this stage the teachers had managed to get all to kids into classrooms, it turns out that it wasn’tt actually little lunch they were all actually in the middle of an exam… I’m not sure what sort of exam it was because not all kids had paper or pens?
The school buildings consisted of a mixture of brick and tin classrooms, the tin shed type ones are “temprary” to house the overflowing student population ( 1600 kids ) they have between 60 and 80 kids in a classroom andm most of the windows have been smashed in the tin classrooms as they don’t have bars and grates over the windows, appaently people break in every weekend and vandalise the school.
The kids seems to be smileing alot and I almost got mobed by the grade 2 kids when I tried to show them the photo I had just taken of them.
Grade 5 kids.
Through one of the broken windows.
Grade 2 kids.
Made it back home safe and sound, all in all it was quite an experiance I certainly enjoyed the beer that I had that night as I apreciated the life style we’re fortunate enough to live.