Friday, March 04, 2005

the ghetto


the ghetto
Originally uploaded by laurian.
This picture was taken in Hillbrow, a high-rise area in Johannesburg. What's incredibly fascinating about Hillbrow, is that it is the densest living space in Africa, with 100 000 people squashed into a 4km2 area. During the 60s and 70s, it was awash with trendy blue-collar white folk. Then apartheid started easing, making it filtratable to those of colour.

Today it is deemed "Little Lago," because it has entirely been taken over by illegal west-African immigrants. You don't hear English or Afrikaans here now, only French.

The 'burb consists of the first post-war modern buildings in the country, and they haven't changed. All the buildings are solid and old...and unfortunately very decrepit now. It's sad, because the apartments should be looked after as historical artefacts!

I love this pic, because the sign is very clearly from the old days. And it also has my tower in it.

15 comments:

Stephanie said...

Talk about a country that has gone through some changes! What makes South Africa so popular for these immigrants?

Peas on Toast said...

You telling me. It has gone from one extreme to another. I think immigrants come here in hoards for three reasons:
1) They can't get into Europe/the States/any other 1st world country

2) They see SA as a powerhouse, a place where the grass is greener, the most jacked-up place in Africa where "opportunities abound"

3) Our governemnt isn't cmapling down on the immigrants, so it's a free system for them. And the buggers are destroying our economy, destroying our inner-city and escalating prostitution and drug trafficking, because no one dares stop them. And that's the only way they can make money, because they can't get jobs here.

It's a serious problem really.

Stephanie said...

Being an immigrant myself (legal, of course), I always get a bit tetchy when people complain about illegal immigrants. Particularly in the wealthy West where a lot of the straight jobs they take are jobs that are essential to the economy, but are low paid and would not be filled by any resident worker because of the pay.

In a country like South Africa, however, which has only relatively recently started on a new path in the world and which has many grave problems of its own to solve, I can see why illegal immigration is a problem.

It would seem to me, however, that if they were encouraged to work legally and contribute to society (ie. taxes and the like) then you wouldn't have as big a problem in terms of crime. If you take away the criminal element then the situation becomes a lot safer. Of course that is a lot easier said than done.

Given South Africa's relative wealth in Africa, I don't think that the country will ever stop being attractive to people who are worse off.

Blog ho said...

in one of those windows i can see a woman standing there...and i can't help but wonder what she's thinking. very interesting, I know nothing about SA except great white sharks eat a lot of people. oh and that book about that minister guy who goes to Johan. to find his son. that was a good book.

Peas on Toast said...

I can understand about being an immigrant. I've been there before myself, and I'm trying to get work in the States at the end of the year. It's going to be TOUGH. Thing is there are so many here, and jobs are already scarce, that many turn to prostitution and crime to get by. It's actually very sad, because they have such high hopes of getting work in SA.

Some do get work though. Some nanage to get their work permits in order and find jobs. Others take advantage of the relatively anarchic system and in turn f*uck up everything else.

Then on the other side, the government has just passed a new legislation that basically says that if someone doesn't pay rent, you cannot kick them out. So people are exploiting this and literally squatting in apartments.
Places like Hillbrow is full of this.

It's a sad state of affairs.

Peas on Toast said...

Oh Ho you make me smile :)I actually didn't see a woman in the window - very astute of you to notice!

That book you referring to, could it be "Cry the Beloved Country?" :)

Binsk said...

Nice Laurian. It's cool to see your neck of the woods!

Ed Abbey said...

Stephanie - I too cringe when people start talking about illegal immigrants because often people make broad racists statements when saying things. Like yourself my wife is a legal immigrant.

However, I also am in favor of tough immigration policies to that the U.S. doesn't end up like the parts of S.A. that Laurian describes. But both sides of our political system seem hell bent on making things easier for illegal immigrants to get into and stay in the country.

Peas on Toast said...

Ed your wife is legal, and is not creating a disaster and a mess with drugs, hi-jackings, murders and prostitution over there. Her culture is in fact adding something to your community, I would guess that your town is now more aware of cultural diversity because your wife has enlightened them. That's when I fully agree to it. I just hope the US gives me a fair chane to prove that I can add something to the economy and media industry there. I suppose time will tell... Anyone have a spare H1B visa lying around by any chance?? (jokes aside :)

I completely support political asylum and people getting work etc in other places - because I am going to be one of them. It is just too much and too chaotic here.

Stephanie said...

Ed and Laurian,

I am in favour of making immigration easier for people who want to come and work provided that there is the infrastructure in place to help them find it. Give people the opportunity to integrate into society and they will not fall prey to organised crime etc.. They will also contribute to society in a positive way as I and Ed's wife have. For God's sake, America (and my home country of Canada) are countries that are largely founded by illegal immigration!

Once you give people the opportunity to work and contribute to society THEN you can start being hard on the rest. There is a reason to be hard on immigration when it is a question of security.

You are right, Ed, that a lot of this debate ends up being tainted with racism. When people here in the UK moan about immigrants (even legal ones) I know deep down that they are not referring to me with my blonde hair and hazel eyes. But I am just as good a resident as the illegal immigrant from Malaysia who cleans toilets at the train station for a pittance.

Ed Abbey said...

Actually America was founded largely on LEGAL immigration. It's just that back 'then,' there weren't limitations on numbers nor did you need a visa, only fare for the boat ride over. But yes, immigration founded America. If I were supreme dictator for a day, I would exchange a lot of American citizens for immigrants who actually want to be a part of our society.

Stephanie said...

Point taken.. Unlimited and largely restriction-free immigration. If you go way back however, it really was just a lot of people saying "sod this" to Europe and making their way over. :)

Two | Face said...

*enter the illegal alien*

Oh sorry I think I'm in the wrong room. He he.

Love the picture Laurian!

Have a great weekend!

Blog ho said...

Yes! That was the book. It was sad when they were eaten by sharks in the end though. I cried a little. Actually it was a sad book and sounds similar to what you describe now. Too many people, not enough jobs, poverty and sharks. bad fucking mix, my friend.

Blog ho said...
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