Stockville, Durban-The Place that Time forgot (quite long)

Feb 3, 2005
Durban, South Africa
Durban, on the east coast of South Africa is a medium sized city, of some 3.5 million people. It has all the features of a city immersed in the third-world : islands of wealth, seas of poverty. I've lived here since 1980 and always thought I knew the place pretty well.

I'd never heard of Stockville, and neither have most people. Until last week, that is. It's carefully hidden in a deep valley, between a highway and some steep cliffs, and it's the place that time forgot.

The hundred or so people that live in this hidden valley grow vegetables and flowers on tiny plots carved out of the hillside. They farm entirely by hand, as they have done for generations. And because the plots are small, they are mostly subsistence farmers, living from hand to mouth and taking their meagre crops to market every now and then.

These simple folk are almost entirely of Indian origin. Their forefathers came here in 1860 to work as labour in the growing sugar industry.

Apartheid, or the policies of ethnic separation that existed in South Africa until only a decade ago served to keep communities separate and apart - and underdeveloped. And it was here in the Stockville Valley that this community simply faded out of sight.

I was excited to be here and wander up and down the steep roads for a day. Such is the pace of modern life: one can never really get to the heart of anything in a single day; one really needs to stay with some of the families for a week or more. But that was the nature of my assignment, that I only had a day. But perhaps, another time I will find the time to explore further. In every street, and in every town and city, there is a story waiting to be told.

Primary School, Stockville
The small school is at the heart of the community and was built by them, by hand some 50 years ago. Few can afford to pay the modest fees of about 100USD a year; the school is almost entirely run on fundraising.

Pupils, Stockville Primary School

Pupil, Stockville Primary School

Men with Flowers, Stockville Valley
These men have spent time gathering bunches of flowers. They will walk to the freeway a few miles away to sell these few bunches for the equivalent of a dollar or two

Planting in the fields by hand, Stockville Valley

The simplicity of it all, Stockville Valley
Using the same simple handtools as generations before have, beans grow from the rich valley soil

Farmer aged 76, Stockville Valley
This man has lived and worked here all his life, close to the soil. But his eyes are full of cataracts and without money and modern medicine, he finds it difficult to see, and thinks he will soon have to give up farming.

On the way to the local store, Stockville Valley
It's a long walk on a hot day to the one single store in the valley.

The storekeeper, Stockville Valley
Here, bottles and all sorts of curious and odd things are sold at the valley's one and only shop.

House of iron, Stockville Valley
These simple houses dot the valley; they have not changed in generations.

Woman at her iron house, Stockville Valley

A simple rose, Stockville Valley

73 year old pensioner, Stockville Valley
This man told me that he had lived here all his life, but that ill health had now made him a pensioner. He sits outside the small valley store, chatting every now and then with people he knows in the valley who come to buy things

The Players Bar, Stockville Valley
The one place in the valley to meet and have a drink. It's a house by day, and a bar by night.

Owner, Players Bar, Stockville Valley
Mom by day, barmaid and owner by night...

Field of Flowers, Stockville Valley
Grown simply in the sunshine, without tunnels, or other modern equipment, these pretty flowers will find their way into homes and office towers in the City

The rich soil, a simple field of spinach, Stockville Valley

All images, D2H
Jan 26, 2005
Your pictures of Stockville have captured me this evening.

I am very appreciative and thank you for posting your wonderful pictures. These pictures certainly put things into perspective for me and I'm sure for many who see them.

We have so much to be thankful for and one thing that is obvious is our medical care...that poor man losing his eyes is very sad. To think that he can't continue his farming leads me to wonder how he will live in the future..each picture has a story..thank you,

Jan 29, 2005
St. George, Utah
What a great story and series of images. It makes one greatful for all we have. But then the simple life like these people is oft times a good life in a different way. I appreciate your time and effort in presenting this story.
Jan 31, 2005
Nanaimo, BC, Canada
Peter - a truly evocative set of photos - thanks very much for posting. Your subject matter, composition and colours are excellent.


Jan 25, 2005
Everyone else has pretty much said it all.

I continue to be amazed by your talent and vision.

Thanks again,
Jan 31, 2005
Brooklyn, NY USA
Peter, these are just stunning, both visually and emotionally. As others have said, each picture tells a story. I hope to get to your beautiful country someday and I will remember this series.
Jan 26, 2005
San Jose, CA
Peter, this is the first time I've had an opportunity to see your wonderful work, and I was deeply impressed by your images and commentary. Compliments.
Feb 21, 2005
Ottawa, Ontario
Peter the thing that always strikes me about your images and stories is that all the images make up the complete story, but each image is also a story in itself. This series is no exception, although in some cases individual images are not just stories, but teasers to a longer story - a story about one of the individuals who are characters in the whole story. If that makes sense.

Webs within webs and all from some beautiful images and a few poignant words.

Thought-provoking as always.

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