Series pulls back Hout Bay curtain

Ashley Newell, of the Hout Bay Partnership.

Taking the lead from the hugely successful Humans of New York social media series, the Hout Bay Partnership’s #houtbaypeople initiative seeks to showcase the town’s residents in a unique and imaginative way.

The posts on Facebook and Instagram are starting to gain traction among Hout Bay’s active social media community, whose members are very keen to learn about their fellow residents and what their own experiences are of the communities of Imizamo Yethu, Hangberg and the Valley.

“You have people who have been in Hout Bay for generations, and you also have newcomers to Hout Bay, people who have come to Cape Town looking for work,” said the Hout Bay Partnership’s Ashley Newell.

“It is our intention to get people sharing their stories. We want to pull back the curtain on Hout Bay, and be reflective of everyone who lives here.”

Currently Ms Newell and colleague Tanya Carus Blacher are running the initiative, visiting various communities photographing and interviewing subjects. However, in the new year a full-time communications specialist will assist with these duties.

“Our intention is definitely to increase our followers going forward. I think with #houtbaypeople we didn’t want it to too closely resemble Humans of New York. So something else we have launched is what we call the United Nations of Hout Bay, where we speak to people from all around the world who have settled in Hout Bay,” Ms Newell said.

“Here we’re doing things like getting them to teach us some of their own language, which is very cool. We also have the Hout Bay Business Focus, where we speak to people who have interesting places of work, such as a barbershop in Imizamo Yethu. Often people connect in an employment setting, but with these stories we are trying to move beyond the traditional boxes of how people connect with one another.”

In one recent post, a woman explains that she is working for the Imizamo Yethu Road Project. “I’m happy that the roads are being changed, and I’m happy to be part of it. I didn’t have a job, I was struggling, but I filled the form at Jobseekers Cape Town and then it happened. I work with a very nice team – we are three ladies and we are happy!”

Another resident shares his story: “ I was born in Cape Town – Parow. I’m a fisherman, and chief engineer on this boat. I’ve been a fisherman for 52 years – all my life –and I’ve worked in Hout Bay for about 20 years. We go out for about a week, around 70-80 miles out, often north, around Lambert’s Bay. There are 19 people on the boat, and you must work together as a team otherwise it’s useless. We catch hake, kingklip and angel fish… depends on the season. Occasionally it’s scary. I worked in Madagascar – now that was bad – terrible cyclones. But I feel free when I’m out on the water and then I feel blessed to come ashore. We have a cook on board too, and we eat well – fish every night, but I never get bored of it!”