Slice Of Life: ​The journey to opportunity

I grew up in Katlehong and went to St Catherine’s Convent School in Germiston. Germiston is not a fancy area – it’s basically middle-class – but every day on the drive to and from school, I would notice the difference between those two environments.

That was in the 80s, with all the political unrest and state of emergency, so it was a very difficult time and space to make sense of – especially as a child.

Also, I grew up in a house with a lot of art and music, but I never saw that beauty reflected in Katlehong. I could never make sense of my built environment.

Every day being bussed to and from school, we would drive across these large tracts of empty land and over bridges, which were essentially created as buffer zones by the apartheid government. It was a journey I could never understand. And when you drive that journey every day, it leaves an impression on you. It shapes you.

People tend to think that one wants to become an architect after seeing some spectacular structure or building and wanting to design some amazing, iconic building. But my journey to becoming an architect was different. The thing that drew me to it was living in a segregated environment – one that was designed for the subjugation of black people. I wanted to create environments that are enabling for communities.

A lot of South African cities and towns have not managed to overcome spatial apartheid, but, you know, when I do that drive from Katlehong to Germiston today, instead of only seeing those empty tracts of land, I see a lot of micro-industries popping up. So, I’ve started seeing townships as spaces where people are creating opportunity; that – as opposed to this colonial idea of what a city is – townships are actually cities. And they’re flippin’ sexy.

Mpho Matsipa, 40, as told to Carl Collison, the Other Foundation’s Rainbow Fellow at the Mail Guardian

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Carl Collison
Carl Collison
Carl Collison is a freelance journalist who focuses primarily on covering queer-related issues across Africa

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

South African mines are getting safer, experts say, even though...

There has been a 14% decrease in deaths at mines this year compared to last year

Here comes the opera: Joburg Theatre presents Don Giovanni as...

Top international cast members to perform Mozart’s Don Giovanni with music by the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra

Legal options running out for Julian Assange

Tug of war over the extradition of WikiLeaks founder to the US enters final stages, with London’s high court set to make a final decision in September

DRC: To restore security, address impunity for rights violations in...

Diplomatic and military action alone will not solve the problem of violence against civilians
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×