Kennedy Road is an informal settlement in Durban. It is inhabited by around 7000 people dwelling in the shacks that largely they have built themselves. People have lived here since the 1970s. In the 1990s the then apartheid government semi formalised it by installing concrete pathways and concrete long drop latrines. Walking around it is not easy because we are surounded by such poverty. The smell is not good – the local land fill is close by and aromas waft over from it constantly. Then local hygiene could be better – the local authorities don’t do proper garbage collection.
We were privileged to go into 1 home and see into many others. The owner was very proud of his tiny 3 roomed wooden and corrugated iron shack that houses him and his wife & 3 children. There was a TV and a smals sound system; minimal furniture. Here life is very hard.
There are ongoing disputes about the right to stay – or be removed. The local leaders are impressive people. There is a dignity about them in the midst of poverty. There is a care for their neighbours; wanting their rights and dignity to be upheld. They are struggling to re-establish themselves after some very tough times. When you talk with someone who is moving out, against their desire, because they have been threatened, and more sadly, their children have been threatened. Threatened because these people have spoken the truth and stood up for justice. Their dignity in all of this was stunning.
You find human dignity and the presence of God in people’s lives in all kinds of places. God is present in Kennedy Road. I’m deeply grateful to the leaders we met for sharing some of their lives briefly with us. I met Jesus here.