The two photos above have nothing to do with the Sitabogogogroup, or even Simile township. On the other hand, they are very representative of similar ‘businesses’ in Simile which I am too self-conscious to photograph. I would feel invasive. However, I was about an hour’s drive north of town and was stopped for ten minutes by road works, so snapped these photos out of the car window. These kinds of roadside businesses are not uncommon in rural areas and, while they speak to poverty, they also show the entrepreneurial spirit of many: a service / skill to offer with low overhead, to say the least.
In Blog #3 I referred to Social Services Assistance sharing the premises each Monday. Today Vicky, Myriam and I helped the gogos fill out the annual Life Certificate forms, a document which proves they are still living and entitled to their pension for another year. (I’m sure this country does death certificates, but somewhere in the inept morass of government and civil service bureaucracy, the twain do not meet). Each gogo had brought along a photocopy of her South African ID book, we filled in names, numbers, details, etc and the gogo then signed (with signature or thumbprint) while we witnessed.
Meanwhile the fellow from Social Services had only a few people coming to him, while we had more and more mkhulus (grandfathers) and others from Simile swamp our table. Twice we ran out of forms (Social Services guy didn’t have extras) and I had to drive into Sabie to get more photocopies. Then all the paperwork was taken to the police station for lethargic rubber-stamping on about 75-100 applications. All in all it was time well spent, as in the past each of these pensioners had to get themselves to another city once a year for this bureaucratic hoop-jumping.
At the craft sessions the gogos have been making crosses. The base is a thin piece of cross-shaped plywood. Then they select “jewels” and broken mosaic tile to glue on in an attractive pattern of their choice. Next comes a generous slathering of grout, mixed up by Joy, followed by edge trimming and an overall sponging. I went around to write names on the back for some; others proudly showed me they had written their own names.