Photo by Masixole Feni.

A scenic view of Covid, the newly formed settlement in Mfuleni, Cape Town. People started moving into the are from the 9th of July.

In Photos: 'Covid' is Cape Town's New Informal Settlement for Those Displaced by the Pandemic

Cape Town residents whose livelihoods are impacted by the coronavirus pandemic are building new homes in a place they call 'Covid'.

A group of Cape Town residents, many of whom lost their jobs due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, have built a new informal settlement now known as Covid. Despite a government ban on evictions while the country is in lockdown, many residents of Cape Town's townships are not seeing the protections promised and are finding themselves harassed by landlords out of their homes in the midst of the crisis.

People offloading their belongings at Covid settlement. It's speculated that people come from as far as Khayelitsha to take advantage of the opportunity of getting a stand so they can get away without paying rent.Photo by Masixole Feni.

Gcobisa*, a mother of two, has been working for the retail giant Shoprite for eighteen months. "Shoprite cut my work hours short, so I now work part-time," she says in an interview with OkayAfrica. As a result, she is unable to pay her rent, so she moved to the newly formed settlement.

A week after the settlement in the location began, The City of Cape Town came and demolished some shacks that were built on land earmarked for a nature reserve near the settlement. The matter is currently in court.

A man and a woman on a freezing morning move planks and a sail sheet to rebuild their shack at the Covid settlement. A lot of people lost their jobs, and the president asked the landlords to bear with the lockdown until it has been eased, but the backyarders can't take the pinch of getting harassed Photo by Masixole Feni.

Cape Town-based photographer Masixole Feni, who, for years, has been documenting the plights faced by black people in the city's townships, documented the migration of residents from the township Mfuleni to Covid as it took place.

"I felt the need to highlight the people's need for proper housing, and it's a continuation of the work I've been doing of highlighting the struggles of black people in Cape Town," says the 2015 recipient of the esteemed Ernest Cole Photographic Award.

In an unbearably cold morning, a mother carries a paraffin heater on her head and her baby on her back. She has already built her house and is moving her belongings.Photo by Masixole Feni.

Cape Town being the city where colonialism has its roots in South Africa has been unkind to black people for centuries. To this day, almost 30 years after the abolishment of apartheid, black people across South Africa still live in townships built by the apartheid government and have to live without basic services. The ruling party, ANC, which took over in 1994 after the country's first democratic elections, has failed dismally at reforming South Africa from the inequality created by apartheid on basis of race.

A man carries corrugated iron sheets to build his shack, while a woman does her laundry. They both started living on the settlement since its inception on the 9th of July.Photo by Masixole Feni.

Black people who still struggle financially due to the legacy of apartheid and racism overall, are always moving from one place to another settling illegally on land that usually belongs to municipalities (in this case, the City of Cape Town).

So, some residents of Covid were struggling to make ends meet even before the pandemic hit. Vuyo*, who moved into Covid in the last three weeks and is originally from Johannesburg, has been jobless since he got retrenched in 2015. He moved to Cape Town in 2019 and has been job-hunting (unsuccessfully) ever since.

Two men offloading their building material at the newly erected settlement.Photo by Masixole Feni.

"There's no water and sanitation services in Covid settlement, no municipal action," says Vuyo in an interview with OkayAfrica before adding that Covid is a self-run community.

A majority of the residents we interviewed had applied for the government's Covid-19 relief grants, but most of their applications were unsuccessful.

*Not their real names.

A man clears the rubble where he wishes to build his shack. The ground is muddy and piled with dirt, but he is determined to clear it all and live on the spot which is situated at the entrance of the Covid settlement.Photo by Masixole Feni.

A woman with her baby on her back clears the land in front of her house while her husband is out at work.Photo by Masixole Feni.

Two people helping to move a mattress into their new home. Most have resorted to building their homes from the tip of the dune since they're trying to keep out of the underlying flooded area.Photo by Masixole Feni.

A couple is captured rebuilding their house. Unfortunately, by the time they arrived, all the good land had been already occupied. They had to build their house next to the pool of water.Photo by Masixole Feni.


A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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