Louis Hiemstra Photography

Louis Hiemstra Photography

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Coal miner, canary or just yellow?

Coal miner, canary or just yellow?

Somewhere between “kunjani” and “kannie kla nie” we are still figuring some stuff out in South Africa. We’re known for being lekker people though, and most of us get along just swell.

We’re a country gilded in cultural diversity, showered in mineral riches and crowned with unrivalled natural splendour! Our potential is limitless.

We’re also a country ripped apart by cultural intolerance, racial-, tribal-, gang- and endless other motivated hate crimes of unimaginable cruelty and inhumane violence. We’re xenophobic. We resolve disputes with fire, lead and blood. “An angry community has killed a man … ” is South African for: someone’s life was brutally ended by an angry mob of people, and no-one will be held accountable. We’ve become a place where a life is just worth less.

Back In the coal mine you are swinging away with your pick. The poor caged canary stops singing, but you keep your head down and tunnel on. Got to keep mining that coal! “We’ll be fine!”

Flutters in the cage. “That damn bird is just nervous, always has been! We’re fine, don’t stress.”

Frantic flapping finally fades and falls silent. “What? One dead canary scares you? You’re just yellow. “

I’m a coal miner to survive. I’m the caged canary, and escape is near impossible. I’m yellow because I’m scared.