Monday, 17 November 2008

White Christmas

After last tutorial with John, I am starting to focus and develop the idea of portraying the way some white communities celebrates Christmas holidays in South Africa and analyzing at the same time their relationship with religion, tradition and cultural identity. I am going tho spend about a month in Mossel Bay, a popular holiday coastal village in the Garden Route, situated halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. It is a busy summer destination for the Afrikaner population with customs and values sometimes perceived as extreme by Western societies.
I am quite interested in the subject for personal reasons and I have already started to gather some contacts and locations that could make the story potentially meaningful and appealing to foreign audiences. I am thinking about the possibility of recording some interviews and taking some portraits in order to achieve a more intimate feeling within a straight forward 35mm reportage approach.
The other side of the story could be done in places like King's Cross, where every Sunday a rented Welsh chapel on the Pentonville Road is packed with more than 600 worshippers, attending services in Afrikaans of the Dutch Reformed Church, led by the Reverend Francois du Toit. Before the end of white rule and the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa, Afrikaans speakers rarely left the country, insisting it was their home for good and the only place they wanted to be. Extreme nationalists claimed with pride that it was their mission to spread European and Christian culture across the southern tip of Africa.
Exact numbers are not available, because South African visitors to the UK are not recorded by ethnicity, but including all races and creeds, about 300,000 flew to the UK in 2007. Many of those coming to the UK are still in their twenties, taking advantage of South Africa's membership in the Commonwealth and the subsequent availability of two-year "working holiday" visas, but others want money, alarmed by the declining standard of living for white South Africans and policies designed to promote black employment, after years of discrimination.
Already businesses are being set up to serve this new expatriate community, with one South African food supplier, Susmans' Butchery, delivering to shops and operating mail order, selling items such as Mrs Ball's Chutney, Peppermint Crisp chocolates and Boerewors sausages, so the original idea for the project seems to be unfolding in different directions and the story continues in London.