There’s a large tropical town in Limpopo called Tzaneen, which we got a bit familiar with on this day. Driving up a steep and hilly rural residential area, we eventually arrived at a young lady’s home.
Rosina lives alone with her one-year-old son, in a small shack with not much but a bed and some chairs.
There was a moment when Rosina and I were alone in her room, and she began to tend to her son. Her son seemed quite desperate for attention from his mother, and it was evident that he became either irritable or afraid when other people were around.
Is this how a mama’s boy is created? Well, there is the boy that is spoilt by his mother with care and affection. Then there is the boy who grows with no one else but his mother. The later is what I may have witnessed, because of the inability to socialize himself. I don’t think my observation is necessarily Freudian, however the isolated nature of their relationship may actually end up affecting the child’s development.
Being a young single mother living in poverty is a struggle that one cannot even begin to comprehend. The interview part of of the shoot that day was challenging, because I don’t think we had ever truly looked into the eyes of someone who was traumatized and alone.
In the beginning we felt as though she wasn’t opening up at all, because when we would ask questions about the conditions she lives under, she would say that she wasn’t struggling at all and that her life was alright. I even began to question myself about what a good life looks like to there people. I felt as though my materialistic spirit went into hiding due to shame.
Who are we to tell her that the life she lives is good or bad? However, all I wanted to say her was that she deserved better. The moment I realized that she does want better for herself, but was too demoralized to say it, was when she mentioned why she lives alone.
She chose to live away from the family home because her uncle had tried, more than once, to sexually abuse her. So, in that moment the best thing she could have done for herself and her son was to move away and be on their own. These are the difficult decisions that women know they have to make. If anything, I would see her more of a survivalist than a person who has just given up. The more she would open up, I felt as though I there was just more pain there that we would never know.
Being a woman in South Africa is like being in a soldier in a never ending war, and the women living in poverty are the ones in the male infested trenches.
A cow that was lingering by the window was brought to my attention, so I went outside to ambush it with my camera. Truthfully, I was being as stealthy as I could possibly be, so I was able to capture the cow’s natural movement, which led me to more cattle.
I began to see cattle differently. I began to appreciate the hang of their body and the bony but sturdy skeletal structure that holds their flesh and four stomachs, all contained by their elastic skin and geometrically patchy fur.
After shooting on that day, we had to hit the road for North West. When we finally arrived at what was meant to be our guesthouse in Rustenburg, we experienced instant disappointment. It was around 8 PM in the evening, and we felt as though we needed to find a different place to stay. After finding a place that was only a 1/10 of a star better than the previous guesthouse. We were basically having Sisonke part two.
To top that off, when we had to look for food, the only thing that was open was a KFC with terrible service. The man who has taking our order was not paying any attention to us, and furthermore, they told us there wasn’t any chicken left.
The moral of the story is that you should never visit Rustenburg in the evening during a pandemic, because Rustenburg will give you crusty guesthouses and drunk KFC employees.