Leanne du Preez guarding at the beachfront
“… Without a sense of identity, there can be no real struggle…”
“…il ne peut y avoir de veritable lutte sans un sentiment d’identite…”
‘We came to South Africa for three reasons. First, we believed that a country which overcame such bad racial segregation and human rights violations must be the right place to get asylum and protection because people know how bad war is, having experienced it. Second, as a Christian, I thought that South African people could teach me forgiveness and reconciliation that I would share with my brothers and sisters back home in the DRC. Third, in South Africa, I guessed that there should be a better opportunity for high standard education. But I am very disappointed. None of these have happened’ Refugee
‘ I recalled the advice of a South African policeman and friend: ‘If you cannot speak Zulu at night, use signs to show your interlocutor that you are deaf. He will leave you in peace.’ Refugee
In its dynamism Durban represents all the contradictions, paradoxes, ironies, anomalies and possibilities of urban conurbation and the challenges of coming to terms with the transformation of apartheid’s urban segregationist policies into viable, living, functional spaces for all the new found inhabitants. Realizing that contemporary South African cities, 17 years after apartheid, are a post liberation reality of what is and not a utopian dream of what could be as deemed by the powers that control the city, themselves inadequately equipped both experientially, politically and intellectually to deal with contemporary realities as revealed in their inhuman ‘clean the streets’ policy before any major city event.
The push factors for the DRC car guards in Durban are sadly one of the legacies of African migration and refugees: devastating war, genocide, the minimizing of possibility and diminishing hope. Ironically they live out the possibility of peace through the recent 2011 elections in the DRC amid the deprivation of democratic possibility on Durban’s streets with incumbent social exclusion, exploitation and xenophobia.
‘Parking des Anges’ strives, through this project to invert negative perceptions of the car guards through a creative empowerment intervention that reveals another conception, one of innovation, quiet resistance and tenacity. The crucial context of nascent urbanity renders the guards as innovators of new perspectives on the city and that through them we can re-conceptualize urbanity and simultaneously challenge our inadequate response to their humanity.