South Western Story is a conversation developed fashion editorial concept by Bambatha Jones which seeks to highlight the most populated township in South Africa – Soweto. More importantly it scrutinises the system that is a township and how the 4-roomed house will still exist in future South Africa. Photographed by Soweto based photographer Kevin Radebe.
The term “township” refers to old, new, formal and informal human settlements that are predominantly African, Coloured and Indian. Commonly characterised by high levels of poverty, unemployment and low incomes as well as distance from the main centres of economic activities.
During the apartheid era, black people were evicted from properties that were in areas designated as “white only” and forced to move into segregated townships. These townships were also known as “locations” or “lokasies” in Afrikaans, the slang term “kasie”, is a popularly short version of “lokasie”.
Like many other townships, the South Western Township (Soweto) boasts high potential of maintaining a self sufficient economy. Township enterprises are involved in wide and diverse economic activities, ranging from spaza shops, car-washes, hair salons, liquor stores and minibus taxis. Other businesses may include mechanical services, burial societies, stokvels and child care services. These are all mainly micro-enterprises with low skills base.
Inherently, business owners and their employees still live on a hand-to-mouth earning structure, this not only delaying the South African economy in it’s entirety but also further highlights how townships have become debt-driven communities instead of vibrant and fruitful centres of recuperation.