Nothing sweet for Dududu residents
Thursday. There’s not a breath of air circulating as we stand outside the Jah Man Service Station in Mahwaqa Village in Dududu, KwaZulu-Natal.
Dududu is a town, if you can call it that, buried in the sugar cane fields inland from Scottburgh on the south coast. The heat and humidity have turned the village and the rest of the Vulamehlo Local Municipality into one big tandoori oven.
We’re standing in the forecourt trying to get the Jah Man of Jah Man Service Station to talk to us about life in Vulamehlo.
The municipality has just been ranked the second worst in the kingdom and the fifth worst in the country when it comes to the overall package of government services at all levels. A kinda perfect storm of nondelivery, thievery and general neglect slap bang in this beautiful valley surrounded by sprawling sugar cane farms, which use the few residents lucky enough to have jobs as cheap labour. A sh*thole in paradise, as it were.
Jah Man’s not one of those peace and love Rasta types. Jah Man’s not in the mood to talk to us about Vulamehlo, or anything else for that matter. Especially when he sees we’re not gonna buy anything more than two 500ml Cokes. Jah Man gives us the 1 000 yard stare and the wall of silence. It must be the heat. Either that or Jah Man’s feeling the effect of the drought and the end of season, and is out of Holy Herb. We move on to find more talkative locals. A couple of hours of journalistic tooth-pulling and we’re done. People in Dududu are peeved with their situation and dead scared of authority. Nobody wants to talk and every word takes a whole lot of coaxing. We’re soaked with sweat and covered in dust by the end of the session, but we got what we came for.
Things could have been much worse. We’ve spent the day in shorts and flip-flops talking to people about what matters in their lives. Before our plans changed, we had been destined for an overdressed day in Pietermaritzburg for the state of the province address. The worst kind of journalism gig – reporting on somebody reading a speech while the shooter takes pictures of talking heads.
Thousands of cats in suits and uniforms looking important and talking fiscal discipline while pissing away a good couple of million on security, transport and lunch.
We head for Durban, a gig on the Bluff and a cold beer at Ansteys Beach.
People in Dududu are peeved with their situation and dead scared of authority