23 June 2011


In Africa the seasons can flow one into the next and sometimes the rain just does not fall. For about 4 years we have not had decent rain when suddenly, after a few heavy downpours, the dams rose from being about 30% full to some overflowing and the dams in Nelson Mandela Metropole in South Africa are in the region of 80% of capacity. Of course the water restrictions are still on – the wheels of municipal bureaucracy turn even slower than the drought cycle.

Luckily the floods were minor with no loss of life and just a lot of suffering, cold and inconvenience for the poor. Living in shacks means that your roof does leak and with the wind driving the rain into the sides of the shack the walls also leak. Large rocks are used to hold down sheets of zinc that are the preferred roofing material. After the rain everything has to be brought out into the open to dry and is a feature of life in the poorer parts of the world. In the picture above you see blankets, clothes and mats drying on the fence. On the roof rows of shoes dry in the sun. To me this is such a typical African picture – we love the colours of the clothes and blanket but do tend to forget the suffering that goes coupled with it. Above the house you see a satellite television dish, something very African too. Being poor or living in a shack does not mean you have to forego luxuries or dreams. Even better, behind the houses, you see the approaching rows of new houses that are slowly replacing the shacks. Sure the process is slow and everyone complains from those who have received the houses to those who are still waiting. The change is slow but still good.

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