The township’s ‘informal settlement’ of shacks –
scores of uniform and unpainted
corrugated iron sheds, some with a strip
of improvised front garden – lay between
a rocky stream prone to flooding and rail tracks
taking those in work to the city.
There were stand pipes and chemical toilets.
There was no mains electricity.
On Friday evenings those who could would hire
fully charged car batteries to see TV.
On a flaking, plastered external wall
of one of the few houses left from when
Indian clerks and their families lived there
someone had painted a facsimile
of Sam Nzima’s black and white photograph
of June 16th 1976:
the mortally wounded twelve year old
Hector Pietersen being carried
by Mbuyisa Makhubu – Antoinette,
the boy’s sister, distraught at their side.
In one garden marigolds were blooming
like golden stars. A young man approached me.
‘What do you think of our country?’
‘It is full of hope,’ I said. We touched thumbs.
Hector PietersenSoweto uprising