It has been over three decades since the people of Esikebheni—an area outside Inanda (Durban)—have been displaced by Inanda dam. Forced to start over due to a water reserve that does not even supply the community with drinking water. Photographer Thobani K who was born in this area teamed up with Pattern Nation and vocalist Nosihe Zulu to produce images that tell a piece of the story about the struggle for water. Esikebheni is currently experiencing water cut-offs and strongly depends on Municipality water trucks delivering water twice a week. This has been a reality since 2013, and when the photographer shares the story in his own words, this is what he said:
CREATIVE DIRECTION / PHOTOGRAPHY / EDITING: Thobani K
“When my family fell victim to Inanda Dam floods in 1987, they were given corrugated iron houses to live in them temporarily. Of course they ended up living there for 5 years before they could manage to actually build a new brick house for themselves. I was born in that corrugated iron house, and I can recall clearly my primary school days when a group of people from some organization came to teach us about cholera that had affected our community since we had no tap water. I remember one girl named Nana Mbambo who was one of the people that died from cholera; and I remember the fear those cholera deaths sent through out the neighbourhood. We feared the only water available to us but had no other option but to drink it, to drink the water from the very same dam that displaced us. They gave us bleach bottles for free and told us to put one spoon in 25litre barrels of water and wait for 24 hours before we can drink that water.”
Thobani K. has taken it upon himself to tell the whole story of the water issue through photographs. This set of images presented here tells a story of how the community was told to purify water from the dam using bleach, that is water for drinking and cooking. These images showcase Nosihe dressed in Pattern Nation’s one of a kind clothing designs. They were shot on location at the dam, as well as in the community of Esikebheni. This collaboration was between three individuals, Cyd Eva of Pattern Nation a creative, visual art platform and experimental fashion label based between Vancouver (Canada) and Durban (South Africa); Nosihe Zulu a jazz vocalist with a movement called UncutExclusive that sees her perform in small intimate spaces in various cities; and creative fashion art photographer Thobani K.