Ag in Africa

26 November, 2006

Away from the suburbs

Filed under: apartheid, Development worker, johannesburg — Ag @ 7:47 pm

For the past week I have been travelling to different areas in and around Joburg helping to run auditions to get new actors for our NGO. We’ve been to the sorts of places that tourists never reach including Eldorado Park and Westbury Park. The first is about 20kms outside Joburg, while Wesbury Park is inside the city. They are both ‘coloured’ areas. (Under Apartheid where you lived depended on your colour, by law.)

I have to say that these were two of the grimmest places I’ve visited, ever. Areas like Soweto are poor and have rubbish infrastructure for their inhabitants, but they at least have a sense of place. I feel excited when I’m there. There are people on the streets, there’s a vibe. But Eldorado and Westbury Parks were devoid of any sense of place. I stood there, outside the community halls and watched bits of litter roll around the wide open desolate landscape.

I tried to take pictures of Eldorado Park but they were crap because I couldn’t capture anything that expressed the emptiness. It felt like a sink estate without the grafitti, skateboards, humans or high rises.  No bleeding-edge fashion mag could ever give Eldorado Park a touch of street cool. I had a bit more luck with pictures in Westbury Park. Apologies to anyone from these areas that might read this – I can only see through outsider’s eyes.

Westbury Park
Westbury Park with a fancy suburb in the far background

Kids playing in the open space in Westbury Park
Kids playing in the open space in Westbury Park

Yeah baby!
Fantastic kids in Westbury Park

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2 Comments »

  1. I must say that I am saddened that you did not get to experience the exuberant atmosphere of Eldorado Park. In case you haven’t guessed, I live there. Or should I rather say that I just sleep there as I spend most of my time in Johannesburg’s suburbs. I see Eldorado Park through the eyes of an outsider and I see a vibrant, warm community that is anything but “empty”. If you do decide to visit our little part of the world again, I suggest that you pop into one of the local shops or spend some time in one of the little streets and see the true nature of Eldorado Park.

    Comment by Anastasia — 12 March, 2007 @ 4:19 pm

  2. Eldos, what a place….I know what you mean I live here….was raised here and at times eldos seem dead, but try being around on a week-end.In fact Eldos week-end starts on a Thursday night..perhaps this is why it resonates with sadness during the week. Drug and alchohol dependence, broken homes, unemployment and other social ills thrive cause deep down in the heart of Eldorado Park is a sadness of being forgotten, passed by and neglected. Our children don’t play anymore cause it’s dangerouse, when your neighbors are raping and murdering your daughters. Sorry if this offends people f

    Comment by Russell Florence — 22 April, 2007 @ 1:07 pm


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