Love From Manenberg
"Love from Manenberg" looks at life in Manenberg, South Africa, in particular the experiences of women and their children. The work makes room for complex narratives pushed aside by the media and shows the ways families look to the future and carry the joy, grief, and everyday realities of life in a community plagued by gang violence. Through fortitude and faith, they persevere and prosper.
The gang violence in Manenberg has been sensationalized and studied. It is a severe and far-reaching reality, but its roots in oppression have largely been ignored while the neighborhood is flattened to a one-dimensional story of bloodshed, as if the people of Manenberg are not constantly creating moments of humor and grace.
Manenberg was established in the Cape Flats, a vast low-lying sand dune on the outskirts of Cape Town, by the apartheid government in the 1960s. Many of Manenberg’s first residents were forcefully removed from thriving neighborhoods near Cape Town’s city center. The process destroyed the social networks that individuals and families relied on, resulting in a rise of gangs and crime. Almost 30 years since the end of apartheid, Manenberg has not seen the fruits of democracy.
The community is singularly recognized in South African media for its social problems, which include substance abuse and above all, relentless gang violence. According to the Western Cape government, Manenberg residents are three times more likely to be murdered than anywhere else in the country.
I first photographed Manenberg in June 2011. For over a decade, the women of the Lottering, Pietersen, and Adams families have shared their lives, showing the texture, unity, and comfort of Manenberg – their home.
The title of the series reflects the love these women embody, and also describes the relationships I have formed with them. We have become a part of the fabric of each other’s lives.