Schools in the Western Cape opened their doors again to over 109 000 learners in Grade 1. I went to see how parents cut the umbilical cord from their little ones as they formally start their training to become the future leaders of South Africa and quite possibly, the world.
This is Chulumanco Gawulekhaya from Nolathando School for the deaf in Khayelitsha. The unique colour of her eyes is a result of her hearing disability and does not affect her eyesight. Her eyes are more light sensitive than normal but she can see perfectly.
Lilitha Linganiso from Nolathando School for the deaf in Khayelitsha spells her name to the teacher.
Mbali Gaqazele and Zlmonde Stulweni getting breakfast at Surrey Primary in Manenberg.
Zahrah Barodien is clinging to her mother at Surrey Primary in Manenberg.
The grade 1 girls of Highlands Primary School in Mitchells Plain line up to be separated into specific classes.
Best friends Zoe Welgemoed and Qaiyarah Melrose from Highlands Primary in Mitchells Plain knows each other from Grade R (pre-school education) already.
Lian Loubser from Highlands Primary in Mitchells Plain gives in to his anxiety when he realised that he was the only child whose name was not on the class register list. This was due to a minor administration error that was corrected immediately, but for a child’s first day of school and as I can recall from my own childhood, this can seem detrimental at the time. If only they knew what lies ahead…
© Photos: Armand Hough
The Kaapse Klopse is a minstrel festival that takes place annually in the beginning of January in Cape Town. It is also referred to as Tweede Nuwe jaar (Second New Year), by local Capetonians. As many as 13000 minstrels took to the streets this year garbed in bright colours, either carrying colourful umbrellas or playing an array of musical instruments.
Participants are typically from Afrikaans-speaking working class Cape coloured families who have preserved the custom since the mid-19th century.
People consider the festival a right of renewal that has been shaped by the Cape’s history. The events that are associated with Klopse in the festive season include competitions for the Christmas Choirs, Cape Malay Choirs and Cape minstrel choirs.
Although it was called the Coon Carnival by the Klopse themselves, local authorities have renamed the festival the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival as foreign tourists find the term “coon” derogatory. Appart from the controversy, The Kaapes Klopse remains one on Cape Town’s proudest and definitely most colourful traditions.
© Photos: Armand Hough
Nature photography was the reason I picked up a camera in the first place. I can recall asking my parents for a subscription of National Geographic at an age when my friends wanted toy cars and G.I. Joe action figures. I guess I realised that the people creating these photographs had to physically go to these amazing places. They would have to interact with the people, hear the sounds and breathe the air. I wanted to bear witness to the world and share my stories. The opportunity to combine my photographic passions presented itself when a Swedish friend of mine, Gabriella, decided to visit Cape Town and wanted to go on an African adventure. This was my chance to experience my long awaited nature photography desires. I called up a friend Conrad who I knew did his own overland tours through Africa. His company, Roaring African Adventures and his reputation as an expert in the area preceded him. He quickly customised a two week round trip through four countries including wildlife excursions in several national parks, adrenalin pumping adventurous activities, a traditional canoe safari in the Okavango Delta, and getting face to face with Africa’s wildest inhabitants. He called it “The Southern Wanderer”. The commute from Cape Town to Livingstone was a gruelling fifty two hour bus ride with a quick stopover in Windhoek where we had just enough time to find a dirty chicken shop and buy some last min snacks for the second leg of the drive. In Livingstone we would pick up the overland vehicle. On our arrival to Livingstone, it was a race to the Zambezi Waterfront’s swimming pool where we lounged with Mosi Lagers in hand and nurtured our aching muscles from the long bus drive up. Five Australian travellers and a New Zealander joined us and the next morning our journey officially started with a visit to the Zimbabwean side of the Victoria Falls. We spent the next few days making our way through Zimbabwe, spotting more elephants than local people and we were treated to seeing two lionesses taking down a warthog in the Hwange National park. I was told that we were quite lucky to see this. After crossing the border into Botswana we went for the surreal experience of driving through the endless horizons of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, a few more nature reserves and some of the most beautiful game lodges I have ever seen in my life. We arrived in Maun after a short drive where we climbed into a couple a Mokoro traditional dugout canoes for a three day trip into the Okavango Delta sharing the aquatic highways with hippo’s, crocodiles and elephants. The wildlife inspecting around out tents was ridiculous and when we spotted fresh lion tracks on one of our walking safaris, it made the situation we put ourselves in so much more real. We crossed the border into Namibia’s Caprivi Strip where we spent an evening sleeping amongst hippos and crocs at the Ngepi Camp. The resort is situated on the banks the Kavango River and is famous for their extravagant tree houses. Back onto the road we headed towards Kasane next to the Chobe River that seperater Namibia and Botswana. There we went on a guided boating safari and camped on the rivers shores. Our journey drew to an end as we headed back to The Zambian border but on our return to Livingstone we had a few days to relax and confront the rapids of the mighty Zambezi River on a white water rafting excursion. Livingstone is a town where you can try your hand at many fear inducing activities that the resorts had to offer from walking with lions, elephant safaris and helicopter rides over Vic Falls. The trip was life changing to say the least and served both as a holiday and a photographic adventure. The food was exquisite, the company was delightful, views mesmerising and the photos, well, I guess they came out all right. http://www.roaringafricanadventures.com
© Photos: Armand Hough
It lies at the foot of Muizenberg Mountain, tucked away between the Steenberg wine fields and the mystical Tokai forest. Notorious for its “Numbers Gangs” and as unforgiving as the Cape of Storms once were. Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison.
I had a rear opportunity to photograph some of its inmates at a HIV awareness program held in the prison’s recreational centre. Normally it is strictly forbidden to show the faces of its convicted residents but seeing as I was invited for the occasion, permission was granted.
Some of South Africa’s most dangerous criminals are held in Pollsmoor Prison. The prison has a staff of 1278 and the capacity to accommodate 4336 offenders, but the current inmate population is over 7000. This figure fluctuates daily.
On my visit to the facility, there was a calm mood among the inmates. Even though there was a strong presents of prison guards, the prisoners spoke openly about their past lives and present treatment.
The gang related tattoos was visible on most of the inmate’s necks, arms and faces.
Gangsterism is a potent feature of Pollsmoor Prison life, and gangs are segregated into three separate sections on a single floor. The “Numbers Gangs” consists of the 28’s, 27’s and 26’s and dates back to the 1890’s.
Nelson Mandela was the most famous inmate of the prison. He describes Pollsmoor Prison as the truth of Oscar Wilde’s haunting line about the tent of blue that prisoners call the sky. Mandela first spent 18 years on Robben Island, before being transferred to Pollsmoor prison in 1982.
Inmates spend nearly all day in their overcrowded cells, and spend only one hour a day having outdoor exercise in enclosed courtyards. Little exercise occurs during this hour, since gang leaders utilise this time to communicate with prisoners in other cells, exchange drugs and mete out punishment to those in other cells. Any inmate who dares to exercise is called to attention before the gang leaders and may face punishment.
On this specific occasion, inmates were rewarded for their good behavior during the HIV awareness project with a braai (barbecue) and a stage performance that focuses on life after prison. After spending some time talking to the prisoners, it dawned on me that sadly most of the prisoners that I have met are convicted of such harrowing crimes, that they will never see freedom again.
© Photos: Armand Hough