The Syncretion of Polarization and Extremes – Part 6 – South Africa and Angola: Walls and Resettlement

Transposing emblem by Toni Wallis

South Africa: Cities of walls

A wall divides them. The extremely poor live on one side. The ultra-rich live on the other. Extremely poor for the most part means black. Extremely rich, unfortunately, is still mostly white.

Cape Town-based photographer and anthropologist, Johnny Miller, took a series of aerial photographs1 that show how a road, a wall, a small no-man’s land of vegetation divide the rich from the poor.

Stellenbosch, South Africa – On the streets of Kayamandi township – Dmitrii Skharov

Probably the most famous image2 shows on the one side Hout Bay, an affluent seaside resort town that attracts thousands of foreign tourists and locals to its beaches and restaurants. On the other side, up on a hill is Imizamo Yethu, a 57 hectare informal settlement that is home to about 34,000 people. Devastating fires regularly rage through the shacks leaving families, who have very little anyway, with nothing at all.

Cape Town, South Africa – At Hout Bay harbor – Gimas

This image is not unique to Hout Bay/Imizamo Yethu or even Cape Town. We see it in every South African city and small town throughout our country. Sandton, South Africa’s economic powerhouse on the outskirts of Johannesburg, bordered by Alexandra, is one of the poorest and most desperate places in the country. Morningside and its adjoining golf estate in Durban are across from the Kennedy Road informal settlement. The peaceful and lush winelands of Stellenbosch abut the Kayamandi squatter camp.

Apartheid South Africa created these divided communities, a project which Miller describes as the “architecture of separation,” to promote the ideals of the white, nationalist state. People of color were forcibly removed to locations where they could become invisible.

Cape Town, South Africa – In the Khayelitsha township – meunierd

However, as South Africa has evolved, the cities have grown. Qualified professionals find better paying jobs and new opportunities in the cities, and so the demand for middle-class and high-end homes has increased. The poor too, allured by the promise of employment and a better life, have flocked to the cities. Only for them, there are no homes. Instead they compete with each other for 18 square feet of land to put up a shack and dream of a better life.

And so, as both suburbia and the slum continue to grow, the two polarities of South African society have once again come into contact. The result is often violent confrontation, and clear defiance of the twenty-four-year black government that appears to be unable or unwilling to dismantle this physical and spatial legacy of apartheid.

Cape Town, South Africa – The street – Nicole Honeywill

To a large extent, the poor and disenfranchised have given up on peacefully calling on the state to provide access to water, electricity, adequate health and education services. Instead, protests often spiral out of control – burning tires, burning buses, burning schools, burning clinics, looting, clashes with security personnel.

Our new president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has made it clear that the status quo cannot continue and is attempting to introduce some measure equality by calling for radical land reform. In part, this means expropriating land without compensation from those who previously benefitted from a system that privileged white people.

Johannesburg, South Africa – Downtown – View Apart

As one might imagine, not everyone has welcomed this call. Those of us who have land and houses suddenly fear that we may lose our homes, often our main asset. What will happen to us if we are forced to leave our homes? Not all of us can simply afford to buy something else. Losing a farm or losing a home could make many people destitute.

Nothing has been legislated yet and the government realizes that it will have to approach land reform and expropriation with care. In the meantime, for some, the proximity of Hout Bay and Imizamo Yethu is far too close for comfort.

Luanda, Angola – High rises and slums – Fabian Plock

Luanda: A city of extremes between the new elite and the masses

In Angola, the civil war left its scars. Some of the scars are on the buildings of Luanda, where in 1992, the war entered the capital for the first and last time. The result was the mass killing of opposition UNITA supporters.

After the end of the war in 2002, the MPLA-led government set out on a project of national reconstruction that sought to eliminate all evidence of the 27-year confusão (confusion), a metaphor for the civil war. During the years of war, Luanda became a safe haven, as the massacres mostly occurred in the countryside. So it happened that a city originally designed by the Portuguese for 500,000 people was bursting at the seams after the war. Today, Luanda’s population is about four million.

Luanda, Angola – Downtown – KrakenPlaces

The old colonial neighborhoods burgeoned and expanded into a sprawling chaos of formal and informal construction. Basic services such as sanitation and electricity all but collapsed in many areas.

The new arrivals from Angola’s villages and towns do not fit into the government’s narrative of a new modern Angola. The disorganized suburbs of downtown Luanda also did not fit the image of a city that would become the symbol of the quick success brought by oil wealth.

The government undertook a project of requalificação urbana (urban upgrading) to bring Luanda into the twenty-first century, but researcher Jon Schubert prefers to describe this undertaking as “spatial cleansing” to rid the city center of any remnants of war or the people that the government would rather forget, as it sets about building the New Angola.3

Luanda, Angola – Skyline – Fabian Plock

Photographs of Luanda Bay with its palm-lined streets, promenade, wide avenues and world class restaurants boasting the very best of international cuisine are impressive and represent the Angola that the government wants to show the world. In this world of modern, educated elites, there is no room for the hustlers, the matumbos (uneducated country bumpkins) or o povo (the people).

As a result, many of the downtown musseques (neighorhoods) were razed to the ground to make room for impressive skyscrapers and upmarket developments. The inhabitants of the musseques were forcibly removed without compensation and relocated to places such as the Kilamba Kiaxi housing project, some fifteen kilometers from the city center. News reports indicate that these new suburbs lack running water and electricity; sewage collects in the streets; the roads are of poor quality and it often takes more than an hour for residents to get into the city.4

Cape Town, South Africa – Strolling – Leo Moko

Apartheid polarized South Africans, and the extremities between the abundance of the rich and the poverty of the poor remain entrenched and have become a cause of conflict as the disenfranchised poor seek a share in some of the wealth, while the rich, finding themselves under siege, raise the walls that divide the two communities.

In Angola, war brought people from all walks of life together. This diversity is chaotic and unsightly to the government. So in an effort to promote a new and modern post-war country, the state has built extremity into the physical landscape. The rich elite, almost all of whom have ties to someone in government, live in the spanking new city center, while o povo, who make up the masses of the Angolan nation, have been pushed out to the extremities of the city, lamenting their demolished homes and having to get used to becoming invisible in a new kind of apartheid.

Toni Wallis

Notes

1. —- (2016). “These photos show real inequality in Cape Town,” News24, May 25.

2. Miller, Johnny (2016). “Hout Bay/Imizamo Yethu,” Unequal Scenes

3. Schubert, Jon (2017). Working the System: A Political Ethnography of the New Angola. New York: Cornell University Press, p32.

4. Faustino, Gaspar (2017). “Kilamba Kiaxi: De distrito a município, sempre à margem do desenvolvimento,” Novo Jornal, April 19.

Credits

Photo 1: South Africa – Below – Meghan Holmes (Unsplash)

Photo 2: Stellenbosch, South Africa – On the streets of Kayamandi township – Dmitrii Skharov (Shutterstock)

Photo 3: Cape Town, South Africa – At Hout Bay harbor – Gimas (Shutterstock)

Photo 4: Cape Town, South Africa – In the Khayelitsha township – meunierd (Shutterstock)

Photo 5: Cape Town, South Africa – The street – Nicole Honeywill (Unsplash)

Photo 6: Johannesburg, South Africa – Downtown – View Apart (Shutterstock)

Photo 7: Luanda, Angola – High rises and slums – Fabian Plock (Shutterstock)

Photo 8: Luanda, Angola – Downtown – KrakenPlaces (Shutterstock)

Photo 9: Luanda, Angola – Skyline – Fabian Plock (Shutterstock)

Photo 10: Cape Town, South Africa – Strolling – Leo Moko (Unsplash)

Locations

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The Syncretion of Polarization and Extremes

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Baccino, Alejandra. Polarization within Ourselves – South America. January 2019.

Cordido, Veronica. Hanging by Extremes – Venezuela. January 2019.

Romano, Mavi. Censorship and Cultural Survival in a World without Gods – Spain. January 2019.

Sepi, Andreea. A World of Victims and Perpetrators? – Germany and Romania. February 2019.

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

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Awdejuk, Pawel. Niepewność – The Road to Freedom – Poland. July 2018.

Bell, Sarah. The Bushfire Drive – Australia. July 2018.

Bondarenko, Evgeny. Twenty Plus Years. August 2018.

Cajoto, Christina. The Trajectory of Life – España. August 2018.

Castañeda, Martha Corzo. Worried Workers – Peru. February 2018.

Cooleridge, Tweeney. Uncertainty in the Abstract – Slovakia. March 2018.

Cordido, Veronica. The Crib of Uncertainty – Venezuela. January 2018.

Dastan, S.A. Uncertain Waters – Turkey. March 2019.

Deiana, Sara. The Dark Side of Perfection. September 2018.

Electra P. Aβεβαιότητα: The Enemy of Romantic Relationships – Greece. February 2018

Escandell, Andrea da Silva. Compromise – Uruguay. March 2018

Fischer, Kristin. Talking about Cancer – Germany. September 2018.

Gómez, Javier. Uncharted Bliss. October 2018

Goumiri, Abdennour. Uncertainty Is All There Is – France. February 2018.

Guerrero, Marilin. Crossing the Uncertain Path of Life – Cuba. February 2018.

Guillot, Iuliana. Preparing for Change – Romania. June 2018.

Huihao, Mu. Going the Uncertain Way. July 2017.

Husaini, Maha. Inshallah – Jordan. December 2018

Israyelyan, Mania. 30 Years of Anoroshutyun – Armenia. December 2018.

Julber, Lillian. What Will Tomorrow Bring? – Chile. July 2018.

Kanunova, Nigina. Metamorphoses in Modern Life. June 2018.

Kingsley, Anastasia. Expect the Unexpected. November 2018.

Konbaz, Rahaf. So You Say You Want A Revolution – Syria. March 2018.

Korneeva, Kate. One We – Russia. April 2018.

Krnceska, Sofija. No Name Country – Macedonia. May 2018.

Lassa, Verónica. The Old Eastern Books of Uncertainty – Argentina. May 2018.

Lozano, Gabriela. El cuchillo de la incertidumbre : Piercing Uncertainty – México. January 2018.

Marti, Sol. A Thought Falling – Spain and Germany. December 2018.

Pang, Lian. Now or Later? October 2018.

Phelps, Jade. Healing Journey Pulls Us Apart – America. June 2018.

Protić, Aleksandar. Environmental Uncertainty. August 2018.

Romano, Mavi. An Uncertain Democracy – Spain. April 2018

Ranaldo, Mary. Incerto or Flexible: Italia and UK. March 2018.

Ray, Sanjay Kumar. Once upon a Time in a Queue – India. November 2018.

Çakır, Peren. Building a Future in Times of Uncertainty – Argentina and Turkey. May 2018.

Sanmartín, Virginia. Qué Será, Será – Spain. June 2018.

Samir, Ahmed. Uncertainty in Personal Life. January 2018.

Sariñana, Alejandra González. A Brighter Future? – Mexico. December 2018.

Skobic, Aleksandar. Genetic Code Name: Unique – Bosnia and Herzegovina. December 2018.

Sekulić, Jelena. Nesigurnost of the Past, Present and Future – Serbia. June 2018.

Sem, Sebastião. Vagrant Poets. September 2018.

Sepi, Andreea. Uncertainties Galore – Germany. April 2018.

Sevunts, Nane. From Uncertainty to Newness. November 2018.

Sitorus, Rina. When Uncertainty Reaches the Land of Certainty – Indonesia and the Netherlands. May 2018.

Trojnar, Kamila. Ephemeral. October 2018.

Quintero, Jonay. The Fear of Not Knowing – España. January 2018.

Uberti, Alejandra Baccino. Adventure – Uruguay. September 2018.

Vuka. Lacking Uncertainty in Political Culture – Serbia. April 2018.

Wallis, Toni. Living for Today – South Africa. October 2018.

Younes, Ghadir. Economic Uncertainty in Life – Lebanon. Part 38.

Zakharova, Anastasiya. LGBQT – Russia. August 2018.

The Anthology of Global Instability

Alvisi, Andrea. Political and Social Instability: The Brexit Mess. May 2017.

Bahras. Unstable Air Pollution – Unstable Solutions: Mongolia. June 2017.

Bichen, Svetlana Novoselova. Mental and Cultural Instability: Russia and Turkey. February 2017.

Bondarenko, Evgeny. Hybrid War: Ukraine. December 2018.

Borghi, Silvana Renée. Living in Inestabilidad. September 2017.

Caetano, Raphael. Instabilidade emocional: Brazil. February 2017.

Çakır, Peren. On the Road in Search of Stability: Argentina and Turkey. June 2017.

Casas, Marilin Guerrero. Emotional Estabilidad: The Key To a Happy Life – Cuba. December 2017.

Charles-Dee. Social Onstabiliteit – South Africa. December 2017.

Cordido, Verónica. Instability, a Stable Reality: Venezuela and America. April 2017.

Dastan, S.A. The Stability of Instability: Turkey and Syria. March 2017.

D’Adam, Anton. Psychosocial Instability in Argentina and America: El granero del mundo and The Manifest Destiny. January 2017.

Delibasheva, Emilia. Political Instability: Electoral Coups in America and Bulgaria. December 2016.

Ellie. Angry Folk: Korea. June 2017.

Farid, Isis Kamal. Stability Is Not An Option – Egypt. August 2017.

Friedrich, Angelika. Introduction: The Emblem of Instability. September 2016.

Fondevik, Vigdis. Unstable Nature: Norway and Denmark. October 2016.

Ghadir, Younes. Political Instability – Lebanon. September 2017.

Gómez, Javier. The Way of No Way – Argentina and the UK. December 2017.

Gotera, Jay R. In Flux Amid Rising Local and Regional Tensions – Philippines. November 2017.

Guillot, Iulianna. Starting and Staying in Instability – Moldova. October 2017.

Gjuzelov, Zoran. The Нестабилност of Transition – Macedonia. November 2017.

Halimi, Sophia. Modern Instabilité: Youth and Employment in France and China. March 2017.

Hernandez, Jonay Quintero. Embracing Instability – Spain. February 2017.

Kelvin, Sera. The Stability in Expecting Emotional Instability: Brazil. April 2017.

Konbaz, Rahaf. The Castaways: On the Verge of Life – Syria. August 2017.

Korneeva, Ekaterina. Instability… or Flexibility? July 2017.

Kreutzer, Karina. Hidden Instabilität – Ecuador and Switzerland. December 2017.

Krnceska, Sofija. Decades of Economic Instability – Macedonia. September 2017.

Kutscher, Karin. Inestabilidad in Interpersonal Relationships – Chile. October 2017.

Larousse, Annabelle. Legal and Emotional Instability in a Transgender Life – Ireland. August 2017.

Larrosa, Mariela. The Very Stable Spanish Instability. April 2017.

Lobos, José. Political Instability: Guatemala. May 2017.

Lozano, Gabriela. Estructuras Inestables: Vignettes of a Contemporary, Not Quite Collapsing Country – Mexico. November 2017.

MacSweeny, Michael. A House on a Hill – America. October 2017.

Mankevich, Tatiana. The Absence of Linguistic Cтабiльнасць: Does the Belarusian Language Have a Future? December 2016.

McGuiness, Matthew. Loving Lady Instability. November 2017.

Meschi, Isabelle. Linguistic Instabilité and Instabilità: France and Italy. November 2016.

Mitra, Ashutosh. The Instability of Change: India. January 2016.

Moussly, Sahar. The Instability of Tyranny: Syria and the Syrian Diaspora. December 2016.

Nastou, Eliza. Psychological Αστάθεια and Inestabilidad during the Economic Crisis: Greece and Spain. December 2016.

Nevosadova, Jirina. Whatever Happens, It Is Experience. May 2017.

Olisthoughts. Stable Instability – Moldova. October 2017.

Partykowska, Natalia. Niestabilność and адсутнасць стабільнасці in the Arts: Polish and Belarusian Theater. January 2017.

Payan, Rodrigo Arenas. Impotence – Venezuela and Columbia. September 2017.

Persio, P.L.F. Social Instabilità and Instabiliteit: Italy and the Netherlands. November 2016.

Pranevich, Liubou. Cultural Instability: Belarus and Poland. March 2017.

Protić, Aleksandar. Demographic Instability: Serbia. July 2017.

Romano, Mavi. Unstable Identities: Ecuador and Europe. October 2016.

Sekulić, Jelena. Нестабилност/Nestabilnost in Language – Serbia. August 2017.

Sepa, Andreea. Instabilitate vs. Stabilität: How Important Are Cultural Differences? – Romania and Germany. September 2017.

Shunit. Economic Instability: Guinea and Gambia. April 2017.

Shalunova, Marina. Language Instability: Russia. June 2017

Sitorus, Rina. Instabilitas Toleransi: Indonesia. May 2017.

Skrypka, Vladyslav. National нестійкість: Ukraine. July 2017.

Staniulis, Justas. Nestabilumas of Gediminas Hill and the Threat to the Symbol of the State: Lithuania. July 2017.

Sousa, Antonia. Social and Economic Instabilidade: Portugal. January 2017.

Vuka. My Intimate Imbalanced Inclination. March 2017.

Walton, Éva. Historical and Psychological Bizonytalanság within Hungarian Culture. January 2017.

Yücel, Sabahattin. The Instability of Turkish Education and its Effect on Culture and Language: Turkey. July 2017.

Zadrożna-Nowak, Amelia. Economic Instability: Poles at Home and the Polish Diaspora. November 2016.

Zakharova, Anastasiya. Instability in Relationships: Russia. April 2017.

Forthcoming

CW 7 – Bolivia – Osvaldo Montano
CW 8 – Spain – Jonay Quintero Hernandez
CW 9 – Indonesia – Rina Sitorus
CW 10 – Mexico – Alejandra Gonzalez Sarinana
CW 11 – Armenia – Armine Asryan
CW 12 – Serbia – Vuka Mijuskovic
CW 13 – Peru – Monica Valenzuela
CW 14 – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Aleksandar Skobic
CW 15 – Argentina – Julieta Spirito
CW 16 – Italy – Mary Ranaldo
CW 17 – Lebanon – Ghadir Younes
CW 18 – Cuba – Marilin Guerrero Casas
CW 19 – Ukraine – Evgeny Bondarenko
CW 20 – Uruguay – Andrea da Silva Escandell
CW 21 – Spain – Jazz Williams
CW 22 – Armenia – Mania Israyelyan
CW 23 – Poland – Pawel Awdejuk
CW 24 – Balkans – Aleksandar Protic
CW 25 – Italy – Daniela Cannarella
CW 26 – Serbia – Jelena Sekulic
CW 27 – Tajikistan – Nigina Kanunova
CW 28 – Portugal – Nuno Rosalino
CW 29 – Uruguay – Lillian Julber
CW 30 – Argentina – Javier Gomez
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

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