Living in those times…

The Group Areas Act of 1950 was one of the most infamous statutes ever passed which allowed the government to determine who would live where. This was to ensure that blacks remained in “reserves” and only came to the white areas when needed for work. Over the next twenty years, the geography of South Africa was accordingly rearranged with tens of thousands of black people forcibly removed to their newly designated “homelands”. Most of the people in these new “homelands” had absolutely no tribal or social connection with these areas.

It is against this background that Todd and Thembi’s dreams and ambitions of a better life took shape.

Todd Twala grew up in a township outside Johannesburg, called George Goch. In 1968, under the apartheid government policy of racial segregation and “resettlement,” Blacks were forcibly removed either to large reserves far from the cities, or to areas designated as “townships” not far from the urban centres. This fate befell Todd and her family who were then forced to move.

Todd’s family then settled in Soweto (an acronym for SOuth WEstern TOwnship) on the outskirts of Johannesburg, or Egoli (City of Gold). Soweto was like many other townships in South Africa: Blacks lived in subeconomic conditions with little or no sanitation, no running water or electricity. The housing was in the form of box-like huts; there was limited access in and out of the township (only one or two roads), and barbed wire usually surrounded the area with just about no transport available to the city of Johannesburg.

NEXT> Their first meeting…
Africa Umoja Todd as a Baby

Todd Twala with her family in the George Goch Township. She recalls living with 12 people in a 2-bedroomed house.

Africa Umoja Thembi-Nyandeni

Thembi at the age of two, standing in the doorway of
her house in Soweto, wearing the traditional Zulu
grass skirt. Her mother said that she was born to
perform, shaking her hips for anyone who was
interested in her performance.