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  • Writer's pictureRick Higgs


So there we were in the Eastern Cape, in a place called Umtata, which is part of the OR Tambo District, the poorest district in the Eastern cape (65.5% unemployment and 42.2% literacy rate)

Umtata’s small airport, with a beautiful flowing wave design that is situated right next to the Mthatha river, can only handle small jet/ propeller aircrafts with some of the friendliest airport/ car rental staff I have encountered in South Africa.

It is amazing that a town this small can have so much traffic! The road side views to the township communities is a view to behold. Colourful huts, houses and shacks on the hills catches your eyes as far as you go with pigs, cows, goats and the odd horse eating from the rubbish strewn next to the road. You feel the poverty as you drive past the locals, carrying wood, water in wheelbarrows, etc. but all the while big broad smiles across their faces.

As we go into the townships, its really hard to comprehend how sad a life it really is with so much poverty. Litter everywhere, half completed shacks made from rotten pallets, barbed wire fencing protecting the little they have. We go past a local shebeen where a lot of the men in the community is already drunk (its 10am on a Friday morning), fighting for a little bit of happiness, a way to forget of what to go home to... Spending the last penny on a quart.

It was heart breaking to see and just made me appreciate what I have even more. I can only be thankful. The beautiful picture of colourful huts painted on the Hillside canvas, truly hide what the community is going through.

what an incredible experience!

Rick Higgs

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