*As part of the in-depth research project, one of the requirements of the BA Honours in Journalism and Media Studies degree at Wits University, students are required to write daily blog entries to show the progress of their projects. This year the theme is Yeoville and students have to take on a topic that tells a story that is Yeoville specific.
“There are no churches in Yeoville, they are businesses.” That’s what Linda Nxumalo, a woman selling jewellery in the Yeoville market, said when I asked her why she didn’t go to one of the many churches in Yeoville. Today I got to talk to some of the Yeoville residents. Some of them have lived in the area for years and go to traditional churches. They are not very keen on the new churches and all of the people I approached said the churches do nothing for the community and only make money.
Those statements are the extreme opposite to what I heard from the pastor I interviewed. But they’re great, I may have found the conflict I have been looking for. I am glad there are two sides to my story, because I was afraid of just having one opinion, which may or may not be true. I asked several people, most of them were South African. Others didn’t go to church and the others went to churches outside of Yeoville.
This is strange, there are so many churches in Yeoville but it seems people aren’t very receptive to them. A lot of what I discovered has raised many questions and areas for me to consider for my feature. I will know for sure how the community has received the churches once I speak to members of the one congregation on Sunday.
I was worried that I would be late for my meeting with the ward councillor. I had to catch a taxi last minute, at least Percy was around to help me navigate. He verified what I heard at the town council, but he gave me more Yeoville specific details. He also said that he couldn’t see if the presence of the churches changed or improved the community.
He confirmed that they do have problems with informal churches, but he said the town planners were the ones who dealt with resolving the issues and penalties and he could only report the problems. Looks like I have to return to the town council tomorrow because I have a few more questions for them.
Foreign nationals don’t want to go to South African churches.
While I was at the recreation centre, where the councillor is based, I spoke to Aletta Kock who works there. She mentioned that there are many churches in Yeoville because foreign nationals don’t want to go to South African churches. One of the trainers, Justice Sweetman has been working at the gym for a year and a half. Although he is Roman Catholic, he doesn’t go to a church because he DJ’s in the evenings and is often too tired to go.
He says the number of churches are increasing “day by day” but that the churches are just “making money” by taking “half” of the people’s salaries. I like that the different sources I’m speaking to corroborate each other.
Aletta runs the activities at the gym. Three years ago an aerobics class was started for elderly women. It’s quite popular. I spoke to some of the women who go for classes. Most of them are there because they were sent by their doctors. One of the women, Catherine Nkosi, has been going to the gym for two years. She says her health has improved since starting. Monica Odea, 67 years old, just started two weeks ago and says she already feels better. I tried weaving in my church questions too, they had very strong opinions. I think I will have to ask the pastor of the new church how he intends on growing while combating the traditional beliefs of some people.
I also spoke to a Jehovah’s Witness today. He tried to explain why he didn’t go to the other churches and quoted many bible verses. He also asked me a few questions about my faith. I told him about grace and then he re-explained his faith by quoting more bible verses, leaving me with “Write it down and read- John 10: 24-25”. I really got a snapshot about people’s ideas and thoughts, I hope to expand on them as the project continues.
I will be seeing the PhD candidate Simbarashe Nyuke tomorrow to talk about his research. I also managed to get hold of the pastor from Cornerstone church. He says I can bring my camera on Sunday, but things might be busy because they’re launching so we will have to schedule follow-up meetings.
At least there is progress.