Mthata, Eastern Cape / South Africa · 2017   container shops

  

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   The panel of well-seasoned travelers had agreed: South Africa was the ultimate Eden south of Heaven. And it was that, in the narrow field of view of white-hearted travelers, and it was that for those inhabitants who could afford being on the right side of it, the West of course. But there were many going through the hell underneath, in the deep trenches Apartheid had left in the topography of that garden. You didn’t see them all that much if you didn’t bother looking beyond the rim, so it was easy to leave them out of any account about that beautiful, beautiful heaven-land.

Disparity looked different in South Africa. The extremes were the same as in any other place where dirt poor and filthy rich are neighbors, but the packaging was something I’d never seen. The Western Cape looked like a high-income country with low-income country elements. The Eastern Cape was the exact mirror image of that. You wouldn’t know in which World Bank drawer to put South Africa. And it shouldn’t disappear in any drawer either, because there is a lot of work to be done.

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a glimpse

Kid in a South African township

 
glimpse: 20 YEARS AFTER | Tucked away in-between Cape Town’s plush waterfront and Stellenbosch’s fine wineries, the Cape Flats aren’t exactly glamorous. That’s why they are easily overlooked by tourists even though their ample expanse makes them hard to miss. Everybody had hyped up South Africa and Cape Town as heaven on earth, but nobody had mentioned the abysmal disparity. I was taken aback by how segregated the country still was, 20 years after apartheid. The institutionalized oppression had left societal trenches so deep that they undermined social and racial equity at every step. There is plenty of joy in the townships, no doubt; but people’s happiness is up against vast inherited sufferings and struggles, which can overshadow the most beautiful smile with a frown.



 

South African kids

 
glimpse: MANY REASONS | I’ve seen these guys fight over many silly reasons, but race was never one of them.


 

Elephant seen from behind during self drive safari in South Africa's Addo Elephant Park

 
glimpse: UNIMPRESSED | Self-what now? Self-drive safari? That didn’t sound right. I mean we’re talking wild animals here, above all the ones with wheels for legs.  Weren’t these African national parks afraid that some ruthless safari human ran over a lion or a dung beetle? Nope. And wouldn’t the quadrupeds attack cars? Yebo. Ask my buddy how he learned that lionesses can open car doors with their teeth. Or my other buddy how his parent’s friends figured that a car’s hood can serve as an elephant’s chair. Or let me draw you a front row picture of a charging elephant, forcing an entire lineup of vehicles into a comical reverse-parade. But the DIY-freedom is hard to pass up, and as long as the interaction is respectful, the grey giants are utterly unimpressed with humans and their toy cars, ambling in front of these most curious intruders without a worry in the world.



 

Imagine Scholar turned education so upside down, that it needed to be redefined from toe to head.
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Imagine Scholar, Kamhlushwa / South Africa · 2017   students living passions

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Big as a country, Krüger National Park is home to the wild and an open house for safari humans.
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Krüger National Park / South Africa · 2017   blended giraffe

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Freestate / South Africa · 2017   chasing the golden west
 

 

 

 

 

 

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places / stories

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Western Cape / Easy on Farsighted Eyes

A bay with turquoise water, Western Cape, South Africa


Western Cape / South Africa · 2017   nature's chemistry



 

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Western Cape / South Africa · 2017   six legs



 

Lion's Head as seen from Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa


Cape Town / South Africa · 2017   more nature than city



 


Cape Point / South Africa · 2017   walking into the view



 

Sunset shadow of Lion's Head over Cape Town, South Africa


Cape Town / South Africa · 2017   late shadow



 

A cape town can hardly be a bad town. That’s a given. But this Cape Town didn’t quite measure up to the gospel everybody had been singing. That gospel was all sopranos and falsettos, none of the bass. Sand on end, ocean front delicacies, bars and brunches. Everybody seemed to eat the disparities right up and digest them just fine. Every waiter black, every owner white. The most prominent hint at inequality, as far as tourism was concerned, was crime. I received my first cautioning from two police who were flabbergasted that I was walking alone a spittle outside of Bo-Kaap, one of the most touristy places far and wide: “go back down and keep walking if somebody starts talking to you.” And at the hostel they pointed out those emptier downtown alleys you should avoid, left and right of the main streets. I stayed at that place on and off over the course of three months and there was one break in for each month. Harmless, non-violent break ins, unlike the ones South Africans would tell you about, at times first-hand accounts. One was just in the making one night when I accompanied the receptionist/son River on the way out. It took me three moments to realize why he was so tense and rude in escorting some guy off the porch: that guy had hopped the wall and was trying to petty-steal some things by reaching through a barred window. They had a sign on the other side of that window to not leave belongings lying around near it.



 

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Cape Flats / South Africa · 2017   metal township



 

Two woman during a party


Cape Town / South Africa · 2017   texture of the night



 


Bo-Kaap, Cape Town / South Africa · 2017   plenty pink



 

Birthday cake with candles


Cape Town / South Africa · 2017   birthday love



 

Made friends there that stayed with me. And going up Table Mountain along the Venster route, I made friends with the skies.



 

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Table Mountain, Cape Town / South Africa · 2017   merger of blues
 





The Garden Route was lekker, obviously. Green days and golden afternoons, more bays than are healthy when you're trying to lay off hedonism.



 

Fishing in Wilderness, South Africa at sunset, Garden Route


Wilderness / South Africa · 2017   fishing gold



 

Mansion in Knysna, South Africa


Knysna / South Africa · 2017   living fine



 

Penguins, Western Cape, South Africa


Western Cape / South Africa · 2017   penguin party



 

Knysna, South Africa


Knysna / South Africa · 2017   inlet inkling



 

Coastal road, Western Cape, South Africa


Western Cape / South Africa · 2017   generous road



 

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Eastern Cape / The Other Side of South Africa

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Eastern Cape / South Africa · 2017   square roundhouse



 


Coffee Bay / South Africa · 2017   muse views



 

The Eastern Cape was, very fittingly, the polar opposite of the Western Cape. Much less glamorous, plenty heartier.



 

Street with stores in Mthata, South Africa


Mthata / South Africa · 2017   ideals



 

I volunteered with Greensleeves Children's Home outside East London, an organization that was much more family than institution. The kids were a lot stronger than most adults I know. Life had uprooted them much too early, ripped them out of the childhoods and families their parents had signed them up for. Their stories were devastating and their laughs miracles, and they laughed plenty by any measure.



 

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East London / South Africa · 2017   young impressionist



 


East London / South Africa · 2017   traveling skin



 

Kamhlushwa / Humans Living Passions – Community Enrichment from Within

meet the extraordinary Imagine Scholars

As founder Corey Johnson puts it: “I’m incredibly proud of all the huge successes, but the real goal is to create good people. I’d be more proud if they become good mothers, fathers or coworkers, just good people; because that’s what the world needs.”

 

 

 

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KwaZulu-Natal / An Apt Name

Kwawazulu Natal sounded exactly what the landscapes looked like, and I don't know if that was by design or by whose design, but it all made sense like beans.



 

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Drakensberg / South Africa · 2017   green mantle



 


Drakensberg / South Africa · 2017   cloud canyon



 

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Free State / Burning Asphalt

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Free State / South Africa · 2017   asphalt river



 


Free State / South Africa · 2017   roadtrip body



 

With our little road trip, we couldn't have been freer in the Free State. On and on, in and out, up and about. West and Wester, through apocalyptical thunder and always following the burning asphalt into the sun.



 

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Free State / South Africa · 2017   looking back ahead


Free State / South Africa · 2017   pastoral present

 

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elsewhere

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in Africa