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It is not easy to see - and still harder to achieve - progress in a place like Soweto. But it is there.
Sprawling over fifty square miles, Soweto is the most violent city in the world today. The result of untrammelled
urbanisation perverted by apartheid, it is a hostile and forsaken place, even to most of the four million
people who call it home.
But Soweto's filthy streets and rickety shacks, representing a painful stage in a difficult transition, are not mere evidence of African
decline. They are signs of escape from the hopelessness of a collapsed ethnic system. South Africa's richest optimism is paradoxically
embedded in the overcrowded, crime-ravaged hovels of Soweto. They represent the black person's forced choice
and willingness to undergo a punishing apprenticeship in pursuit of a new life. They reflect Sowetan's courage and tenacity.
Born in Soweto is the human story of black South Africa. It is a complex fusion of suffering and resilience, tragedy,
humour and undiminished spirit. Above all, it is a moving and poignant tribute to the ordinary people of a city
that has become both famous and infamous - people who have managed to keep hope alive, who remain deeply creative
and enterprising, and who have made meaning of their daily struggle to survive.
Extract from book:
Chapt. 9. The Money Game:
"When Sowetons throw parties, they mean business. Starting on Friday night and known as stokvels, they
go on through Saturdays, Sundays and often Mondays. Guests pay dearly for the entertainment, emerging after three
wild days with what they call TB - terrible bhabhalazi (hangovers) - and empty pockets.
They are parties with an earnest purpose: to raise money. An estimated R200-million is generated by stokvels in South Africa's
black townships every month. Dating back a century and forming the basis of urban Africans' social life,
stokvels are the means by which economically powerless people raise capital.
Very few Sowetans have the collateral to raise bank loans. If they want to open a backyard spaza, buy a taxi, give
a child a university education or simply supplement the family's income, it is the stokvel that yields the money.
'A stokvel is a kind of credit union in which a group of people enter into an agreement to contribute a fixed
amount of money to a common pool weekly, fortnightly or monthly,' says Sowetan Andrew Lukhele, founder of the National Stokvels Associaltion
of South Africa. Then, depending on the rules governing a particular stokvel, this money or a portion of it may be drawn by members
either in rotation or in a time of need. This mutual financial assistance is the main purpose of stokvels, but
they also have valuable social and entertainment functions. .... Stokvels - with names like Tuesday Blues, Benneton, Shisa (hot),
One Day Makes No Harm, and Malamogodu (entrails) - have between eight and twenty members, each of whom organises a party at least
twice a year. ..."
About the author:
South African-born Heidi Holland has been a journalist in Africa for twenty-five years. Her first book on South Africa, The Struggle:
A History of the African National Congress, was published in 1990 in England, the United States and Germany.
As a freelance journalist, she has written for a wide range of international publications including the London
Sunday Times, International Herald Tribune and The Guardian. Other projects have included research for leading
British television documentaries, and for Nine Network, Austarlia. She was recently invitedto join the production teams of the BBC,
Thames and Channel 4, contributing to an award-winning documentary on black economic empowerment in South Africa
and a film on Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto, among others.
Heidi Holland currently works as an independent author in Johannesburg. She is also managing director of a Johannesburg publishing house
producing international in-flight journals for airlines in African countries.
BORN IN SOWETO by Heidi Holland
Paperback 212 pages (February 23, 1995)
Publisher: The Penguin Group (SA) (Pty) Ltd
Preis: € ????
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