Khayelitsha: A uMlungu in a Township, by Steven Otter
Steven Otter, as a white person beeing named an 'uMlungu', moved into the township Khayelitsha while studying journalism and working for a well-known Cape Town daily newspaper, eventually living in there for two years.
[...] The next day he handed me a torn-off piece of newspaper with a telephone number scribbled on it in black ink. 'Tshidi has an outside room for you,' he said. 'Her place is five minutes away from mine. Call her.' Tshidi had arranged to meet Aletta and me, so we took the train to iLitha Park, Khayelitsha. As we travelled, the houses grew smaller and the litter more pronounced: it looked like an era generally thought to have passed. The last stop, iLitha Park, seemed to be one of Khaye-litsha's more affluent suburbs, I thought as we were led to Ntlakohlaza Street by Wanda, our new and concerned friend from the train. The houses, although small, were neat and new, in light, cheerful yellows, pinks, blues and whites, lining the dusty, tarred roads of the neighbourhood. It was January, the middle of summer, and as we walked from the station we saw a suburb almost entirely devoid of greenery, although a cow stood grazing contentedly on a solitary clump of grass nearby. But then a cool breeze blew in from the sea, just out of sight to the south, and I caught a whiff of braai meat, as some of those heading for the station stopped to study us unabashedly. 'If you need someone to transport your furniture from town, you can call my father,' offered Wanda, handing me a piece of paper with a number written on it. I saw that she was offering the services of Mr Ncuba and his bakkie. 'How much does he charge?' I asked. 'This is not my father's job,' she replied, 'so pay him some money for petrol if you can afford to.' She pointed towards her home, a few hundred metres away. 'Even if you don't need his help be sure to visit me some time anyway,' she said. We found Tshidi with a duster in her hand at Number 8 Ntlakohlaza Street. Although the word ntlakohlaza means 'autumn', it was difficult to imagine these summery houses in the hot lanes shrouded in cold and rain. The cow had finished its lunch: there was now officially no greenery left in sight. Mzondi had said Tshidi and her husband Molefe were Sotho so my rudimentary Xhosa would be useless. 'Hello sisi,' I called to her from the other side of her crumbling garden wall. Tshidi, a voluptuous woman in her late twenties, was giving her stately dining room table - squeezed into a room barely large enough to hold it - one final, proud wipe. She was wearing a floral blue and white blouse over a long skirt, and she wiped her hands on a yellow apron strung about her broad waist. It was easy to see the Sotho influence in her sharp features, with her petite nose and thin lips. She waved to us to come in. Our shoes crunched over the gravel as we passed through the empty space where the gate in the wall should have been, and then Tshidi unlocked the padlocked security gate at the front door and invited us in. At the table sat her brother-in-law Foamy, a young man who radiated intelligence from a smiling, warm face. He stood to greet us, and after an elaborate round of handshakes between the four of us, we were offered seats at the massive table. Aletta briefly studied her reflection in the wood. 'Molefe is still at work,' Tshidi said, explaining that his shift at the insurance company where he worked ended at 5pm. [...]
An excerpt from Khayelitsha: A uMlungu in a Township, by Steven Otter.
Subtitle: A uMlungu in a Township
Author: Steven Otter
Publisher: The Penguin Group (South Africa)
Cape Town, South Africa, 2007
ISBN 9780143025474 / ISBN 978-0-14-302547-4
Paperback, 13 x 20 cm, 294 pages
Otter, Steven im Namibiana-Buchangebot
Non fiction: Khayelitsha. A uMlungu in a Township. A white South African makes himself home in a fully black dwelling area outside Cape Town.