In March 2019 we went to South Africa to produce a commercial for the surfboard label "DVG Shapes". There we met Oscar,
one of the employees, who told us about his life, dreams and projects. Oscar Andile Thetha lives in a township close by, called Masiphumelele, where he has a recording studio and created his own clothing brand "Masi Massive". In addition to this, Oscar helped launch "Waves for Change", which is a non-governmental organisation that tries to keep youngsters away from drugs and criminality by providing both: safe places and surf therapy sessions. Oscar invited us to spend a day with him and his crew to discover his world. Obviously we accepted.
"We can't wait for the government to change things, we have to take things in our own hands and be strong"
Walking around Masiphumelele we discovered a community abandoned by the state, where forty thousand people share a one square kilometre wetland. The muddy and humid environment would already make life pretty hard with a good infrastructure. But most of the houses there are built by the inhabitants themselves in low quality or with reused materials. Because the government does not provide electricity to everybody, illegal extensions are built even if they are unsafe and electricity is much more expensive. In Masi, people do what they can with what they have, with almost no support from the state.
Besides, those townships face problems of drug addiction, alcoholism and unemployment leading to an increase in criminality. Masi's inhabitants are South Africans as well as foreigners from countries like Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and even from the D. R. of Congo. Difficult living conditions in South Africa have often divided the ethnic groups, in fact, in the beginning, when the population of Masi was growing, there were many tensions. Now the years have told them how to work together and how important it is to understand, accept and respect each other. We became aware of the misfortune and daily struggles the people used to face and still face.