A normal day in Alexandra is one where you wake up to the banging sound of music coming from your neighbor’s cottage.
When you peep right outside your window, everyone is going about their lives as if the sun didn’t greet us a few hours ago. Before you know it, you are greeted by delightful and cheerful laughs of little children expressing their freedom to play. Right over our fence, if you really want to call it that, you have what we call ‘stalikies’ and ‘spazas’ operating from the dawn of time. Let me tell you a little bit about these little shops, these little shops make life easy because they sell right about anything you may need; from vegetables and fruits to drinks of all sorts and everything else. In what I call a home, my neighbor is only an arm’s length away while the handful amount of people I live with are only a breath away.
I don’t think such a language is understood in my community.
Alexandra house 87000 households, majority of that being informal settlements. In as much as you may want to call it a ‘squatter camp’ 87000 people call it home. People from this community come from all walks of life. Many are struggling to bring life together, while many are right below the average line yet still struggling to make ends meet. The stalilkies I was talking about are owned by parents who use that penny they get to at least put bread on the table.
Most homes in Alexandra are child headed households meaning siblings have to decide where the next meal will come from. In essence, staying home, distanced from everyone just cannot be an option. Now some will say ‘you making excuses’ but for someone who doesn’t know what to eat next, they call it making life. Each informal settlement is home to average 4 people.
Now imagine bathing, eating and sleeping in the same space with your son as a mother or with your daughter as a father or even as siblings of opposite sex. I cringe at the thought of that but its reality for many. One may question the hygienic protocol followed by sellers of these stalkies and spazas but they accommodate the financial dillima that many in Alexandra find themselves in, so worrying about hygienic is honestly the least of their worry.