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INHERITANCE

The Complete Collection

Forty One Documentary Photographs of the People and their Lives living in Informal Settlements of South Africa.

Available as Collectors Limited 6th Editions Prints.

All Profits Donated

OPENPAGE-Studio are donating all nett profits from the sales of “Inheritance” Collectors Prints: (Limited 6th Edition) to Save The Children.

Although these photographs are of both Children and Adults, don’t forget these Adults were once Children, and maybe the circumstances they find themselves now could have been improved in their childhood and upbringing?  This is not just a South African matter, it reaches to all corners of the world.  So we will be splitting our donations jointly between Save The Children – South Africa and Save The Children – International.

We thank the wounderful People and Children from the Informal Settlements of South Africa for participating in this project, and Mike Rossi in its creative creation.  Please give your support.

Save The Children

INHERITANCE

The Complete Collection

Inheritance 1

Inheritance #01 | Shack Fire Survivor

Tombi is a shack fire survivor. Burnt as a child. Most fires are started by dangerous fitted electrical boards; by falling asleep with a burning cigarette, generally senseless from alcohol, or knocking the paraffin heater over accidentally. This is of no interest to her; she loves alcohol and cigarettes and having her photograph taken.


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Inheritance 2

Inheritance #02 | He’s Got The Moves Baby

It’s 8.30am Saturday. The muggy air camouflaged with essence of grilled chicken. His party has started; probably quite some time ago. He raps in Xhosa, his musical inheritance. His hand an imaginary microphone. A quart bottle of beer to steady him. The hawkers are amused. He feeds of their approval offering a series of break-dancing moves. But his intoxicated limbs can’t cope. He falls over. They laugh. He stands up. We clap. He smiles, then lurches along jiggling, singing a befuddled song.


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Inheritance 3

Inheritance #03 | Midnight Shop

Earlier on in the day before I dropped my Rastafarian bodyguard off at the Midnight Shop, he told me that Cafe’s and Tuck Shop’s are dens of inequity, from narcotics to trade-in, in stolen goods. We arrived at his drop-off point just as it started to rain. I saw a lot of shifty faces and sidestepping furtive bodies. So I quickly picked up the camera. Their sixth sense of not being busted by the cops switched-on just after I shot the first frame. Turning towards me, like a school of Groupers discovering a shark in their den, the guilty faces swiftly scattered into their shanty environment.


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Inheritance 4

Inheritance #04 | Walking Up Steps To Her Home

Separated from Timber settlement by a 100 metres, three conjoined shacks are the beginnings of a new settlement. More liberal — a mix of ethnic race groups. As she walked up the steps to her shack I asked her to smile. I knew her answer.


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Inheritance 5

Inheritance #05 | Watching Over Granny

Granny likes her naps. She cannot afford wood for her burner. She’d rather spend what little she has on cheap wine. I promised to bring her some for the cold winter nights. She claps her hands with thanks.


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Inheritance 6

Inheritance #06 | Superwoman

Seeing Superwoman suddenly appear by the takeaway shack reminded me of a quote by Nora Ephron – “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”


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Inheritance 7

Inheritance #07 | Girl in Her Kitchen

It was Sunday. Church choir voices trilled from the room next door. I asked Memory if she was going to join her choral friends. Her answer, ‘She has more important things to do’.


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Inheritance 8

Inheritance #08 | Pig Breeder and Daughter

Safety is critical when children are near adult pigs. Not only does Mamma Pig dislike any invasion of her little piggies space, (I got a quick nose butt on my leg), she is likely to take a chunk out of you if the food she is served is not to her liking.


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Inheritance 9

Inheritance #09 | Intoxicated

We arrived at Sophie’s shack around 8am. She was not at home. Her two grand daughters said they would go and fetch their grandmother. I set up the camera and waited. Granny arrived 15 minutes later, inebriated. So intoxicated, she had to crawl up the cement steps of her shack on her hands and knees. Then helping her stand up, she walked into her room, wobbly, pulled up a wire basket and put a plastic pillow on for a seat. Then promptly leant on the cold fireplace and fell asleep.


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Inheritance 10

Inheritance #10 | Ladies Barbecuing

The air prickles with humidity. My attempt at an invisible Cartier-Bresson glass-look was easily seen through by these four ladies cooking up Sunday lunch. Shy, embarrassed or ominous reasons, three of the ladies turned away. One ran behind the draped lavender plastic mesh. Then, nervously peered through the crisscross pattern. After a bit of coaxing they relaxed, but still suspicious, in case I was the law, or the sherif of the court. I asked, “Why are your husbands not cooking for you?” They all laughed. Lifting their hands they demonstrated amaglug-gluging a bottle of beer.


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Inheritance 11

Inheritance #11 | Boy in Barbed Wire House

Razor-wire, a dog, a makeshift fence and gate defend this homespun corrugated home in Beverley Hills.


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Inheritance 12

Inheritance #12 | Sarah

Sarah is 78 years. She lost the use of one eye when assaulted by her first husband 50 years earlier. She now supports her two sons who are in their mid fifties on her government pension.


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Inheritance 13

Inheritance #13 | Granny Smoking in Her Bedroom

The rotting aged blue wall paneling of Sophie’s bedroom are cardboard box sheets. A friend’s daughter has come to visit, to play with the boy when he is awake. Light seeps through a hole in her corrugated roof. The soft luminescence highlights her slip-shoes. On a rainy day she’ll wake up to find waterlogged slippers.


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Inheritance 14

Inheritance #14 | Boy and Baby in Kitchen

His mother is an ex Tik addict, crystal meth addictive like heroin. His father is trying to wean himself off the drug. Her son is the 8 year old baby sitter.


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Inheritance 15

Inheritance #15 | Ronelle Drinking Water

To obtain drinking water shack dwellers fill up their 5-litre water bottles from a rusty old communal tap.


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Inheritance 16

Inheritance #16 | Dog in Chains

This forlorn looking dog attracted my attention. The pooch inheritance was to be a servant and guard dog to a junkyard dealer. The owner, like most, only saw the dog as a means to protect his scrap metal and probably illegal copper stash. I walked over to see if the animal had a name tag.

Through the fence I saw there was no shiny imprint that displayed the owner’s love, like Milo, Bella, or Patchy, my best friend. The pooch woofed his warning, and flexed its muscles. But its sad face pleads for freedom, which is just a stone’s throw over the Hottentot Holland Mountains behind him where the middle class farmers and the bourgeoisie spoil their animals. The mutt’s legacy like all those around him was being born on the wrong side of town.


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Inheritance 17

Inheritance #17 | Fine Dining in Siyanyanzela

Shack takeaways compete with private open-fire cooked meals on most streets.


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Inheritance 18

Inheritance #18 | Fight

Under hanging cumulus nimbus clouds, I stopped to take a photograph of this shack built on cement blocks. I assumed the owners ran out of funds. It is sad to see a dream not come true.

As I snapped I heard my name shouted. I turned to the voice and out of nowhere Andrew, a Rastafarian farmhand who lives on our road in the valley appeared with his new born baby. Within seconds, the place came alive with others arriving at the fence. The other Rastafarian offered me the peace sign. But the drunken Xhosa lady was having none of it.


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Inheritance 19

Inheritance #19 | Alsome Tuck Shop

Inheritance #19 | Alsome Tuck Shop

With government child grants, this exhausted mother can afford to shop. She catches a nap while waiting for the goods to be passed to her through a slot in the steel grill. After too many robberies, the tuck shop owner allows no one in.


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Inheritance 20

Inheritance #20 | Sophie’s Kitchen

9:00 a.m. Saturday. A moment of sobriety. Family and friends on her shack plot get together in Sophie’s kitchen. She sits on her only chair surrounded by the trappings she and her deceased husband collected over twenty-seven years.


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Inheritance 21

Inheritance #21 | Kay’s Shack

This is Kay’s life. Free Shack. No money. No job. So sleep she shall until Manna falls from heaven; then she knows God came down to help her.


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Inheritance 22

Inheritance #22 | Ignatius with Friend and Dog

Ignatius has two brothers. They are all dependent on Tik, crystal meth, a drug that keeps you permanently awake — no sleep 24/7. Once on, never off. One side effect is the loss of face muscles. The result is constant facial movements. Imagine your face continually on the move like an octopus crawling on the ocean floor running from sharks. The only way to stop the movement is to grind his teeth together. He has very few teeth left.


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Inheritance 23

Inheritance #23 | I Am The Future

After three years of begging the municipality to provide sanitation, sanitation arrived six months ago. A few months later they stopped providing the service. “So where are we to shit?”, they asked the municipality. Their answer, “You all can dig a hole and shit in there.

On the day I took this photograph, I noticed the words on the little boy’s t-shirt. I AM THE FUTURE. What future is there for anyone when the system treats people like wild animals in the jungle. At least those animals don’t get to dig a hole to bury their poo.


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Inheritance 24

Inheritance #24 | Couple in One Room Shack

Imagine your home is only three double-beds of space. In that space you sleep, you house your clothes, cook on one burner, but you can’t roll the chocolate snowman; his pot is 50 metres (which you share with a hundred or so people) from your home.

The shack walls are part wooden slats and part corrugated plastic roofing. The interior is nailed black plastic bin liners to stop the draught and the rain. As you can see there is no washing machine. The clothes are mounting up.


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Inheritance 25

Inheritance #25 | Shack on Cement Blocks

A week after I took this photograph I met Sophie the owner of the shack on cement blocks. She told me, 27 years ago she and her husband, now 4 years deceased, had a dream to build their own house. On the morning after they completed the foundations, they arrived to find all their building materials stolen. With very little money left, they built this shack from parts of demolished houses.


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Inheritance 26

Inheritance #26 | Security Guard Off-Duty

The walls are old ceiling boards. The wooden bed was a gift from a farmer. The hazardous electrical board is free, courtesy of Eskom. The Tweed jacket is for special occasions like attending Zionist church gatherings on Sunday’s.


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Inheritance 27

Inheritance #27 | Street Racing in Naledi

I was amazed at how the settlement children make do with their spare time. Quite old-fashioned in a world where technology cannot be afforded. I was upset when I saw the malnourished dog sniffing for food in the background. In the struggle to feed themselves and the family, the strain is greater feeding their pets, their only early warning of lurking criminals.


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Inheritance 28

Inheritance #28 | Turkey Kiss

Peter, a Xhosa man and his family breed pigs. Their entrepreneurial spirit has encouraged them to diversify by raising turkeys and geese. Their shack, small as shacks tend to be, is divided into three small rooms. I got a sense that he and his wife liked privacy from their kids; who doesn’t sometimes. I wanted to photograph in the cramped bedroom. I do not know how they got the bed in there as it was practically butted up against the corrugated metal walls. I suspect the interior wall was put in afterwards. On the bed there was a gorgeous bedraggled teddy bear. But I could not get the camera and tripod in. So I went to the sitting room which was equally congested.

However, I was in luck as there was an exit door so I could move stuff out. With the camera against the wall I could use a 35 mm lens without too much distortion. I did a few variations but something was missing; they were a little bit introverted. I kept saying to myself how can I get them to open up? The bell eventually struck when I asked Vivian, Peter’s wife, to blow a kiss at the turkey. She loved the idea. I then asked her to kiss the male turkey. Nervous at first I egged her on. I was concerned about the bird pecking her. But the turkey seemed perplexed with all this attention. You can see the bird is quite indignant; maybe he was aware that his wife, Mrs Turkey was pissed off with the tenderness her husband was getting? Or maybe, he was just surprised a human being was showing him some affection.


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Inheritance 29

Inheritance #29 | Friends

It’s 9am Sunday. Party time. Bring out the boom box and lets boogie.


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Inheritance 30

Inheritance #30 | Woman and Dog Anticipating

The Xhosa woman puts her towel out to air on a boulder. She knows it’s going to rain soon. So, she waits for it to dry and to make sure no one steals it. The homeless dog looks at her in hope of food. She looks up at me with her dark inquisitive eyes and probably wonders, ‘What is a white man doing here?’


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Inheritance 31

Inheritance #31 | Boy Watching

On each on my trips into Timber I often overhear conversations through paper thin walls. When I saw the boy, eyes searching through a hole in the front door of his home I could hear his mother shouting at him from within. Her voice sounded concerned and scared. Every so often her voice faded as the pitch varied as she moved around the shack.

“Don’t you go out there Amos, I’m watching you.” The boy asks, Why mom?” She answers, “Because there are rapists and murderers . . . ” She stops, thinks about her child’s innocence. In a few years he will know the truth of the world they both live in. Then the boy asks, “What are rapists mom?


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Inheritance 32

Inheritance #32 | Playground

A gargantuan Gulliver would help keep these Lilliputlian children out of mischief. There certainly is space. Or a giant beanstalk to climb up. But, instead they have an ageing Scotch Pine to swing around on their makeshift ropes.


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Inheritance 33

Inheritance #33 | Sotho Woman in Bedroom

Devoid of life’s trapping, this elderly Sotho lady and her husband live in a 6-square metre cement block house. It is partitioned with old scraps of curtain — their privacy from visitors. I had just snapped a few frames when three drunks lurched through the door demanding some alcohol. Luckily my Rastafarian friend Andrew knew how to hustle them away. However, he suggested we should leave, just in case they came back. They were having withdrawal symptoms and in desperate need for a fix.


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Inheritance 34

Inheritance #34 | Snake Park Home

For someone it’s home sweet home.


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Inheritance 35

Inheritance #35 | Mother & Daughter

Orphaned as a child, Tombi (right) a wandering lost soul anointed Sophie as her replacement mother, a widowed grandmother to several children and grand-children. They are shack residents on a plot shared by several other dwellers and their families in a mix of cultures.

Both have inherited the apathy that comes with giving up on life. Their common interest, alcohol and cigarettes.


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Inheritance 36

Inheritance #36 | Butter Sleeping

His name is Butter because he loves butter. After a hard night’s work he sleeps in his friend Thandi’s bedroom shack. Floor linoleum covers the walls, keeping out the draft that slips through the wooden slats.


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Inheritance 37

Inheritance #37 | Curious Woman with Dog

Her smile reflects her curiosity.


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Inheritance 38

Inheritance #38 | Security Guard and Friends

When Baai is not doing security duty he works as a farmhand. Every cent he earns goes to support his wife and two children in the Eastern Cape. When they visit him they all sleep in his one room.


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Inheritance 39

Inheritance #39 | Bottle Alarm

This overtly suspicious Naledi resident like 99% of the informal settlement cannot afford armed response. To overcome this issue he uses his ingenuity. He has surrounded his home with hundreds of 5-litre bottles filled with rain. He has also erected razor wire fencing. But an accomplished thief would have no problem with this challenge. He’d simply cover the cutting wire with a few thick blankets and clamber over.

Ah, but once over he’d get the surprise of his life. On landing, the bottles would snap, crackle, and explode warning not just the household but the surrounding neighbours. I suggested to his neighbour that maybe he should put up a sign that read: WARNING: SULPHURIC ACID IN BOTTLES. He laughed and said the water was also for drinking and washing.


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Inheritance 40

Inheritance #40 | Disapproval

10am and She Hits the Bottle.


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Inheritance 41

Inheritance #41 | Unemployed Man

I looked at his face and wondered what life he had led? His ex-wife expletives summed it up. Maybe the truth lay in his face.


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