In the shadow of South Africa’s car industry, making use of discarded parts is a way of life – so Port Elizabeth’s Kevin Kimwelle makes a virtue of it…
“You’re lucky you arrived on a Monday,” says architect Kevin Kimwelle as we drive through the twisting back streets of Port Elizabeth. “The municipality collects rubbish on a Monday … but later in the week, it’ll be a terrible mess.”
In South Africa waste collection is just one of the services that government struggles to deliver. A little under half of the country (41% of households) is without basic waste collection services, let alone recycling: as a nation, only 10% of waste is recycled, while 90% ends up in landfills.
But as trash piles up on Port Elizabeth’s pavements, a formal and informal economy has sprung up in response. And Kimwelle has seen an opportunity.
HELP! I’M ALIVE
This is the story of seminal Durban surfer, Ricky Basnett, who has struggled with many demons to finally find a place in a world he never really fitted into…
Picture this… a lil kid, 13 years old. It’s twilight, the world is oscillating. Tears are rolling down his face, his heart is pounding so hard and aching so bad it feels like it’s gonna burst out of his chest. The kid is holding a dagger – pointing it at his own heart, ready to plunge it in…
Two decades later Ricky Basnett is sitting under a palm tree on a sticky hot Saturday in Durban town. The beachfront is buzzing with hustlers, buskers and bikers. The smell of sunscreen and cheap weed floats on the breeze. Ricky’s still kicking. But it’s been quite a journey.
RUDEBOYZ BRING THE NOISE
Gqom is the infectious, thumping sound currently pumping out of the Durban kasi and threatening to take over dance floors across the world. If you visit Tropic City you’ll hear it spilling from shebeens, clattering out of clubs or flying past in a booming taxi. It’s a deep, dark, broken beat that makes you want to shake until you sweat….
TO KILL A POOR MAN
Samora Chapman reports on clashes between Abahlali base-Mjondolo and a brutal police force under instruction of the ruling party in the slums of South Africa…
Now is the time for the whole world to turn their gaze upon the atrocities occurring in the townships of Durban, South Africa. These are real stories from recent clashes between Durban shack dwellers and the powers that be.
On Monday 7 October Nyati Gcinithemba was shot in the chest at the entrance to the uMlazi Courts. He was unarmed, leading a chorus of voices, singing songs of freedom. Nyati and 30 other members of Abahlali base-Mjondolo (a shack dwellers movement) were calling for the release of three fellow activists who had been held by police all weekend for attending protests in uMlazi.
Nyati refused to stop singing, even after being shot, beaten and handcuffed.
We’re in the midst of a crisis. Last night I witnessed a mob nearly murder a man in the street. I then wandered across the city in the half darkness and found that the same mob had swept across town in a fit of rage… beating scores of people with knobkerries, bricks and hockey sticks. The source of the madness? Whoonga Park. And it’s burning to the ground. Here’s how…
It’s A Sweet Life
At home with Bob Perfect, the dude shining a light on Durban…
It’s dusk on a warm winter evening in Tropic City. I park my car under the watchful eye of The Terminator and head along Umbilo Road, hoping like hell that my car doesn’t get nicked. This edge of Umbilo is a weird space – part industrial, part low-income housing, squeezed between seedy bars, factories and sordid hotels. Not your average neighbourhood for an ambitious young entrepreneur at the forefront of the creative scene, but this is where you’ll find the enigmatic Bob Perfect.
Holy hip-hop! Soul Searching with Raheem Kemet
A big guy with a futuristic flow, thug tattoos and razor sharp intellect, Raheem Kemet won the Bling Free Battle of the Year 2004 convincingly, cementing his status as battle champ of Durban and signifying the arrival of a Poison City hip-hop legend.
Father Moon Rising
Ali Abubacar is making a living breathing life into second-hand clothes
Nearly everyone in the Durban scene will recognise Ali Abubacar, aka Father Moon. He’s that cat in the corner at The Winston with a pile of vintage clothes, always wearing an interesting outfit with a magnetic smile. You may have seen him buried in a yellow novel with dog-eared pages, or overheard him speaking passionately about the art revolution.
JOLLING ABOVE THE CLOUDS
Pastelheart could click his tongue like a Zulu and sometimes dressed like a queen… even when it wasn’t a dress-up party. He was the most unique human I have ever met. And a true artist in every sense of the word. I never knew him best, but I could say we were friends…
“I am an artist, not by choice, but by instinct.” – Pastelheart (Graffiti South Africa, Cale Waddacore, 2015).
He loved God but he never preached. He adored the feminine form. He was ALWAYS the best dressed mofo in town.
Poison City is part sub-tropical paradise and part seedy seaside town, depending on your perspective. The beachfront is like an Africa meets Miami Beach mash-up. Beautiful girls glide down the promenade in pink roller-skates as street kids heckle the rich for scraps; muscular herculean men play volley ball on the yellow sand while Muslim women sneak soft serve ice-creams under their burqas and eye naked people. At the same time Zulu Zionists drown each other in salty baptisms and surfers frolic in the perfect curvy waves.
This was the setting as I sat drinking coffee with a local shop owner one morning on the ‘Golden Mile’, as it’s dubbed for marketing purposes. We lapsed into a discussion about the sand sculptures that have emerged all along the beachfront in recent years.