So, day 2 of the MDR-TB tour in Cape Town, took delegates to houses in Nyanga, Gugulethu and then the primary school in Gugs, for an activation of the KickTB campaign, run by the Desmond Tutu Foundation. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to shoot the man again. He was fun, accommodating and patient with the throngs of journalists sticking lenses in his face, or all the overseas journo’s just wanting to shake his hand. We forget, he’s like Martin Luther King JR, and has achieved quite a bit more… When you’re close to greatness, you tend to miss the scale thereof. And by that I don’t just mean he’s a short man.
And game as he is, he even kicked a ball at goal as part of the proceedings! The goalie was in the way, but who cares, not a lot of us will ever see that again!
If you’ve ever been in the townships of South Africa, or elsewhere, I have found here, and in Libya (where it’s a tad more risky to do so), that children here are so gregarious and confident, that they make the most awesome portraits. My own children is a source of endless photographic pleasure, but Xhosa kids are so gorgeous, and expressive, that you almost always end up with a winner… as long as you point your camera in their general direction.
The MDR-TB patients also impressed me. A disease like that is often misunderstood, and because of the highly contagious nature thereof, it’s often the case that the people become ostracised, at least for the period that they are in treatment. Having a bunch of foreigners throwing questions at you in all manners of English accents, when your own command of the language is minimal, in a shack no bigger than 3x3, with all your living necessities and a low ceiling in 35 deg C heat, all wearing facemasks, looking like they’ve entered a radio-active zone, acting just a tad too afraid of possible attacks (the security people made sure the fear of God was instilled in these visitors, to keep them from straying from the group!), asking sometimes somewhat strange questions like “Do you have friends?”, can be just a tad unsettling. Yet, they faced this inconvenience and shared about their lives, their HIV-statuses, life and all manners of personal information, in order to help others understand the plight of these individuals.
After the school event, which took place in tremendous heat, with no shade for the poor kids, who obediently took part and sat quietly, the whole group was returned to the airport, where they were all dumped on an unsuspecting Spur restaurant, which unfortunately, did not do us proud in prompt service. However, the Cheesy Quesidillas were divine, and almost made up for the wait.
The group is continuing its tour through South Africa and Swaziland for the rest of this week, but unfortunately, I won’t be joining.