Wir weinen nicht, wir singen

A day like any other, a village on the savanna. Acacia trees against the red of the setting sun. Under the trees, an elderly man smoking a pipe. It could be a painting. The safari tourists pull out their cameras. With a gentle smile, the old man waves them over to share a bit of wisdom. “We’re the people,” he says. “Not the animals.” South Africa is known for its majestic landscapes, and Cape Town is one of the world’s loveliest cities. Table Mountain looms in the night. The lights of downtown glitter along the bay. From a distance, in dim light, Cape Town is a place of stunning beauty. A close look by day can be equally stunning – for different reasons. But South Africa can no more be reduced to crime and the AIDS-crises than it can to natural wonders and sunsets. Instead of skipping from one dream world to the next, this book presents a voyage of discovery as it happened in our encounters with a series of individuals. The photographs and accompanying captions tell of dreamers, discoverers, artists (and survival artists), and optimists, but also of discouraged people in harsh surroundings. Twenty years after the end of apartheid, few white people – in particular South Africans from major urban centers like Johannesburg and Cape Town – have ever seen a township from the inside. Even fewer have spent significant time there. The idea makes them nervous, or they simply see no reason to make the effort. Yet millions of black and colored South Africans know the white world intimately. They are familiar with both extremes, with two parallel worlds: the world of oyster bars and the world of bare bones. Many commute every morning from one to the other, working as domestics, field hands, laborers, or bellhops on vast farms or in palatial buildings under white ownership. A living wage is a rarity. At night, they return to the crowded shantytowns established by the apartheid regime to sleep. But many feel lucky. They have work. Some succeed in moving out of the townships. Millions still live in the historic ghettos. But even with tears in their eyes, they do not cry. They sing. Peter Maurer and Meinrad Heck

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