Coffee Bay 2015

This is a series of photographs taken in August 2015 in Coffee Bay, Transkei, Eastern Cape South Africa during my yearly visit to the Wild Coast where I continue my photo project of Madiba’s People (Makhelwane, my neighbour) amongst the amaXhosa people who have become my personal neighbours and friends since I first lived there in a caravan from 2011 to 2013.

With my photographs I wish to remind people of this forgotten community with no voice of their own and the little that they have. There is both beauty and suffering in their simple lives from which we can learn and with a little effort make a positive difference in someone’s life.

“If everyone took just what they needed, everyone would have what they needed.”

This is Coffee Bay

This small town of barefoot trodden mud paths over hills where neighbours greet each other by their names is where life can be found in it’s most raw form. This is where life is born and where it dies and becomes new yet again.

My heart breaks for the old mamas dressed proudly in their traditional shweshwe, colorful like flowers in this broken garden where noisy yellow machines bulldoze their way through once peaceful pathways, building a highway straight through this innocent village. Where double cab bakkies and minibus taxis speed way too fast inches away from their precious children.

Where old men and young, horses, donkeys and pigs, side by side search for treasure in the trash of the Western world, scattered outside the fallen fences of the unavoidable rubbish heap, where skeletons of dogs run wild, blood sucked dry by the shiny fat vampire ticks lodged at their throats.

Where lively music fills the air from cellphones clutched in the hands of teenagers heading home or loud taxi speakers by the local river carwash. Where children with eternal runny noses scurry over the hills in their gaping school shoes, hungry for their daily dish of rice or samp and beans.

Where hard working mamas complain of chest and back aches but the doctors can’t tell them what is wrong.  Day by day they push forward and greet indwendwes (tourists) with a hopeful smile: “I’m selling, I’m selling!”  “Forgive the indwendwe for not knowing that I will go home without money or food if they don’t support me by buying a single bracelet for R20″

Where children lost in worlds of imagination drive Ford bakkies carefully constructed of wire or slide down the hills in their cardboard race cars.

Red flowers bloom brightly against the green landscapes after spring rains start falling and little snakes wake when you turn over an unsuspecting rock.  Goats tread swiftly on high cliffs steeply overhanging awesome oceans.

Here is where beauty and danger collide and songs of mothers and children fill the air as birds sing along whilst building their new nests before tropical summer rains start to fall.

How can I not love this paradise lost? How can I ever turn my back and say it’s not my problem?  Would I not help my own mother if she was hungry?

For it ís my mother, my father, my brother and sister, my child, my baby who welcomes me home in this place until someday perhaps I’ll die here too.

“Take a good look friends, at who you were when you got called into this life.  I don’t see many of the ‘brightest and the best’ among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families.  Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these ‘nobodies’ to expose the hollow pretensions of the ‘somebodies’?”  1 Corinthians 1:25-27

What can we do to make a difference?  Small things that bring relief:

I try to visit every year, if anyone wishes to send gifts with me, they are more than welcome to contact me.

If I can afford to travel by car I can take a lot more (taking the bus limits me with how much I can take)

Beads for the bead selling mamas  (They are quite specific about which beads they need – please contact me for more info regarding that)

– they often have no money to buy new beads and there is no shop in Coffee Bay where they can buy beads (that means they have to spend taxi money to get somewhere that does sell beads – any R20 would rather go for food

Bags, blankets, towels, bedding

Any old clothes, shoes, socks etc.

Reading glasses, can be bought at cost price from Proto Trading in Cape Town

Xhosa Bibles

Pencils, erasers, sharpeners, notebooks for the children.

They always ask for sweets but fruit is a much better alternative and they are equally happy for it

Basic needs are oil, paraffin, sugar, tea, longlife milk, flour, rice, samp and beans

Disprins, panado, Germolene, Zambuk

A small solar powered light is a wonderful gift for someone here


Contact me for art prints available


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