12th Annual Photo Show Winners
Meet the finalists of the Fall Photo Show sponsored by The Yale Globalist and The Yale Photography Society
The Block Printer
The NGO Vice President
The Director of Women's Studies
Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 7.14.58 PM
11th Annual Photo Show Winners
Tariro's Front Door
Tariro's front door in Khaylitsha, enscribed with her plea for the safety of her home (Earnest/TYG).
A front door protected by a wrought iron gate in Rondebosch (Earnest/TYG).
The words spill across the front door in permanent marker. “God bless this house and those that are inside the house. Please do not vandalise my house. I’m begging you.” The message pleads with would-be intruders — choose another shack, victimize a different family. Tariro’s home is four sheet metal walls, two windows, and a tin roof. Her shack is one in a row of thousands. Each leans against the next, a tottering maze of card houses stretching to the horizon. Tariro lives in Khayelitsha, a township whose scramble for modernity shows up wherever you look: a woman walks down a dirt road balancing a knock-off handbag on her head; a tap gushes clean water alongside flooded chemical toilets; a satellite dish perches on a shelter constructed from shipping crates, as others wait for the wires and freshly-hewn electrical poles to reach their neighborhood. Less than twenty miles away, smoggy twilight is fading into darkness as I arrive at Rondebosch. My eyes dart left, then right, searching for shadows in the honeyed glow of the streetlights. Finding myself alone, I dig a ring of jangling keys from my backpack. I pass through one electric fence, forty meters of barbed wire perimeter, and two scanning-activated entrances. A final two doors — both barred and bolted — and I’m in. For all its barriers, Rondebosch is not a nuclear development site. Nor is it a maximum-security prison. Rondebosch is a middle class suburb of Cape Town.
A coil of barbed wire snakes around a Rondebosch apartment building.
Kalk Bay Gate
A security gate in Kalk Bay, a popular seaside tourist destination.
Translated from Afrikaans, apartheid is “the state of being apart.” From 1948 to 1994, this “apartness” established literal and figurative separations between four racial groups: natives, whites, Coloureds (mixed of Malay or Indian descent), and Asians. The apartheid-era government evicted non-whites from the prosperous districts of Cape Town, sending 3.5 million people into the newly founded, all-black Bantustan territories of the Eastern Cape. Some of the displaced, however, remained in the Western Cape. They were relocated to previously unsettled and barren tracts of land outside of the city, to townships like Khayelitsha. Non-physical divisions also pervaded society. Buses, benches, and cinemas were separated by race, assuring that even where physical walls did not pervade, the division of public spaces prevented the mixing of the races. The desperation and lack of opportunity inherent in township life turned many people to crime. Pass laws controlling the movement of blacks, however, confined the increasing violence to within the township walls, concealing it from the outside world.
Private security forces monitor a protest in Cape Town (Earnest/TYG).
Beware of the Dog
A spikey iron fence and beware of dog sign deters trespassers (Earnest/TYG).
More than two decades since the collapse of apartheid, the legacy of its division continues to shape Cape Town. The ashes of apartheid birthed a thriving middle class of non-whites. Some members of the new black middle class have flocked to formerly white suburbia. Others remain in the townships, building tidy pastel homes that sit shoulder-to-shoulder with the chaotic slums of the apartheid era. With the slow demise of racial segregation in Cape Town, economic divisions separating the races also began to lessen. Families in modern, middle or upper class neighborhoods — whether white, black, Coloured, or Asian — began adopting additional security measures, barricading themselves (and their newfound wealth) away from the crime lurking in the outside world. In a UN evaluation of 60 countries, South Africa was ranked second for assault and murder per capita and first for rape per capita. As a result, the middle and upper classes hole up in gated communities and cloak themselves behind guard dogs, electric fences, and 24-hour private security patrols. Because police are widely considered too unreliable or too slow to be effective, affluent communities hire private security forces. The use of personal security has become so popular, in fact, that private security guards currently outnumber official policemen in South Africa nearly two to one. There are, however, few private security patrols in Khayelitsha. Residents complain that criminals are rarely apprehended, gang activity hinders convictions, and that a weak street police presence has left victims of assault or rape screaming to deaf ears. Class distinctions, once a matter as clear as black and white, have blurred. It is no longer obvious whom the literal and figurative walls of South Africa are safeguarding, or against whom. The middle and upper classes wear the badge of privilege in subtler ways — in weekly visits from domestic workers, in the trimmed hedges of a tidy suburban lawn, in the gates, guards, and deadbolts protecting the “haves” from the dangerous desperation of the “have-nots.”
The key ring required to access Amelia's office in Rondebosch (Earnest/TYG).
A woman scans her fingerprint to unlock the gated parking lot (Earnest/TYG).
Gangs hold a violent grip on Khayelitsha's youth. Here graffitied threats mark a wall.
Walls Upon Walls
With this project, I hoped to capture some of the measures taken by South Africans to guard against those living outside of their walls. Communities are shaped largely by the presence or absence of walls — locked walls that permit women to use the bathroom without fear of rape, walls that keep murderers off the streets and walls that make it so I need a janitor’s key ring just to enter my flat. Darkness falls on Rondebosch as I walk home. Once inside my fortress, I turn out the light and drowse, barricaded in brick, floodlights, and barbed wire. Two blocks down the street, neat rows of sedans gleam in the moonlight. A patrolman paces in front of the parking lot’s fingerprint scanning-activated gate. A German Shepherd barks in the distance. In Khayelitsha, Tariro tucks her children into bed, protected by tin walls, the lock on her hollow wooden door, and the sincerity of the appeal she scrawled across it. Amelia Earnest ’14 is a Global Affairs major in Pierson College. She can be reached at email@example.com.
The Walk to School
A boy walks to school in Khayelitsha, wearing his backpack on his front to protect it from theft (Earnest/TYG).