Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Diepsloot on Foot

Recently I visited Diepsloot with a group called The Joburg Photo Walkers. This group is just what it sounds like, a bunch of people with cameras who meet up at a specific place or event for the purpose of taking pictures. It was not an ideal day for me to spend walking around Diepsloot. Mr. Deep and I went to a big fancy party the night before and we were out quite late. Also, it was really hot, about 35 degrees. But having the chance to walk around Diepsloot was well worth my personal hardship of being tired and hot. 

I have written a few posts about Diepsloot in the past. You might remember that it's a township of about 200,000 residents located near where we live. Our cleaning lady Christine and her family live there and I have been volunteering at one of the schools in Diepsloot twice a week for several months. Even though I go to Diepsloot for school, I have never had the chance to explore the area on foot so I was not going to miss the opportunity to join the photo walkers. You can see past posts I've written about Diepsloot, here, here and here.

It turns out the reason the photo walkers chose to visit Diepsloot that particular day was because a group called the Diepsloot Arts and Culture Network built an arts cafe and it was the launch day for the cafe and something called the Diepsloot Arts Pricint (sic) a place for Diepsloot artists to gather and work. The cafe was built out of a shipping container.
The cafe on the narrow end of the container

The rest of the cafe container. The right hand side was a DJ booth.

I'm not going to say too much more about this photo walk because I am hoping the pictures and the captions can tell the story of the people I met and the things I saw. I will only say that Diepsloot is the land of opposites. There are so many kind and smiling people living there but they are living in and surrounded by horrid conditions. I'm not trying to be too dramatic here but Diepsloot is a triumph and a tragedy all at the same time. It is a most depressing place as well as a most inspirational place. I hope you enjoy the photos. 

The woman on the left runs the arts cafe
Seats at the arts cafe made from tires and heavy rope 

And here is the thing about Diepsloot. Right next to the arts cafe is this scene.
Part of the cause of all of this trash is because the cafe is located next to a recycling yard. The bottles come from a nearby tavern on a forklift and are piled sky high. 
Often the crates from the forklift fall onto the ground and there is broken glass everywhere. We saw it happen.

Vendor stands and shops are everywhere. And so are kids.


 Chickens are for sale throughout the township for R50. I guess that is the cost the market will bear. That's $3.50 USD
  And here is a man who purchased a chicken. It seems like for R50 the chicken is killed but not plucked or butchered.

Trash and more chickens
When we were talking he was all smiles but he didn't smile for the picture
These men were eating and invited me into their courtyard. The one in the middle barely tolerated me but the other two said not to worry about him.

Love this pretty lady!

This guy was sitting in his car drinking beer while his friends removed one of his tires to put air in it
The guy putting the air in the tire was far less jovial
It seems like in Diepsloot (and in fairness in lots of other places too) Sunday means either drinking beer or going to church

 This guy, named David, was excited to meet an American. He said I should take him to America.
The church crowd. Someone told me if you are dressed in a gown like this it means you have been saved

Yay! I finally got a picture of a woman carrying something on her head!
Dutch is the name of the man in this photo. I met him at the Artists Pricinct. He said he is an artist. I asked him what type of art he does and he said, "any kind of art I can do it." He and I were walking and found a place where a shack had burned down (a common occurrence because paraffin stoves are often used.) We spotted this sculpture in the ashes and he went and picked her up.

People living among trash. It's not that they are slobs. There are only a few skips (dumpsters) and there is a lack of regular rubbish pick up for the those that do exist.

Yes, this is weed. Is this the reason people were so smiley? 


  1. Wonderful photo montage of the spirit and hope, even amid despair and poverty. Despite the challenges faced in Diepsloot, I sure do see a lot of healthy looking, smiling people. Feeds my soul. Thanks for sharing. I hope you do another Photo Walk!

  2. Thank you RedSunshine! I feel the same way about Diepsloot and yes I definitely look forward to doing another photo walk :)

  3. I somehow missed this post when you originally wrote it. Great, great pictures of Diepsloot, I wish I'd gotten to take a walk with the Joburg Photowalkers there during our time!

    1. Thank you! And your post about helping the women with their firewood is one of my favorites. That post also shows the kindness of many Diepsloot residents.

  4. Oh thank you, it was also one of my most favorite ones to write. My kids thought I was crazy the one day I took them with me on the firewood excursion:-)

  5. To me the saddest part is the trash. I wish the city would be give them more dumpsters or more collections. To have to live with so much scattered trash is not dignified. Considering how much money the government wastes you think they could at least pick up the trash.

    1. Agreed! On first sight one is tempted to think, why are they living with so much trash and not picking it up, but often it is a matter of there not being anywhere to put it. Or the places to put it are overflowing and not serviced.

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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.