This is not meant to be a post about some white girls going into a generic African township. Technically, yes we were three white girls going into Phillipi, a township on the outskirts of Cape Town across from the shiny new International Airport. You can see that we were three white girls. In case we forgot that we were three white girls, people would helpfully remind us by yelling “umlungu!”
This was not about us going on a mission to change our perspectives so that we could leave more grateful about our privileged lives. It was not about glamourosing poverty or doing that whole white-person-saving-Africa mission. This was not about inspiring pity or trying to convince others to feel sorry for these people. It was an effort in documenting life in Phillipi, even though we had a narrow view of it. These photos show a reality of life in Phillipi, but it is not the only reality.
So what was it about? We went for a drive, we listened to people’s stories, we took some photos. We tried to take Binyavanga Wainaina’s recommendations to heart. It’s time for us to start viewing people in the developing world for who they really are instead of the stereotypes we’ve been trained to accept. We hope that these photos do not emphasise poverty, but that reveal hope and potential. They don’t need your money or your pity – only your respect.
Text by Simone Hinrichsen