Friday, 12 January 2018

Narrative images: Food in Segregated South Africa

"This is a photograph of a butcher shop in Johannesburg, South Africa, taken in May, 1965. They advertise second grade meat, which is sold at a lesser price, bought mostly by the black Africans and servants. (AP Photo/Royle)." (via)

"“Servant’s rations”, the “servant’s blankets”, the “servant’s crockery” were synonymous with second hand or cheap products of low-grade quality. Typically, for food “she was given bread, tea, jam and mielie-meal and occasionally managed to steal a piece of meat out of the cooking pot when she was cooking stew” (Cock, 1984, p. 34). Alternatively “servants rations consisted of inferior food and often include stale, rotten or simply ‘left-over food’ which the employer considered unsuitable for her own family’s consumption” (p. 27)."

"Often the domestic worker received part of her payment in kind (accommodation, food, old clothes etc.).
Offering old clothes, old furniture and leftover food with no expectation of return “places the recipient in the position of a child or a beggar, being too poor, too young or too low in social status to be able to participate in the system of exchanges which mark the social boundaries of the donor’s group” (Whisson & Weil, 1971, p. 43). Quite simply employers bestowed a gift in order to assert their dominance and their possession of the servant."

"I do remember being embarrassed at the way my parents treated Beauty e.g. her living conditions and she didn’t eat off the same crockery and the general food that she was given, the kind of tinned pilchards and tomato sauce scenario and being decidedly uncomfortable with that……my father would have been quite sympathetic on an abstract level but he wouldn’t have been willing to do anything about it”."
Goldman, 2003

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- Goldman, S. (2003). White Boyhood under Apartheid: The Experience of Being Looked After by a Black Nanny. Doctoral thesis: University of Pretoria
- photograph via