The township I’m working in has three distinct wards. Old Munsieville is the original settlement, in the early 1930s to the 1940s, Mr James Munsie, the white chief sanitary inspector (medical officer) of Krugersdorp, moved the location from a low drainage area to its current location, improving conditions. Most dwellings are modest but solid in foundation. Residents include the sister of Bishop Tutu, Mamma Gloria. The header picture shows activity at the After School Club at the Children’s Embassy (place of work) Old Munsieville.
The original Mshenguville was actually in Soweto. Mshenguville has come to mean “informal settlement” and in Munsieville this district is almost exclusively made up of shacks.
Mayibuye translates to “claim back” and typically is a name given to areas that were confiscated during apartheid but subsequently redeveloped and populated by the black community. This district is a mixture of RWP housing and informal settlements. RWP houses are small homes built by the government and made available via a queuing system to residents who have been living in less permanent housing in the area. The shack area of Mayibuye is often the first place that newcomers from rural regions or other countries such as Mozambique, Malawi or Zimbabwe arrive at.
Although there is hardship and poverty in all districts there is evidence of enterprise and pride. Shacks are invariably kept immaculately clean and tidy and some are not residential and used for businesses such as hairdressing, bars, tuck shops selling air time and snacks. The Thoughtful Path facebook site (July 19th entry that are alongside the link to the pictures)
gives a good account as to how shacks in the informal settlement are being very effectively used to provide early childhood development centres.
Everyone I have met has been welcoming and happy to talk about their experiences and to talk about the challenges of living in the township and there is a feeling that little by little by working together as a community things are getting better.