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June 29, 2016

South Africa’s rich-poor divide, captured by drone

by John_A

About 25 miles east of Cape Town lies Nomzamo, a township with a rough population of 60,000 and a population density of 44,000 per square mile. About 25 miles east of Cape Town lies Strand, a seaside resort with a rough population of 55,000 and a population density of 6,700 per square mile. United by geography, the two suburban areas are divided by all else, including a buffer zone supported by fencing. The predominant language of Strand is Afrikaans, while in Nomzamo it’s Xhosa. Strand is structured suburbia for the middle classes, Nomzamo is the legacy of decades of apartheid.

Johnny Miller, a US-born photographer who moved to South Africa in 2011, has been highlighting the rich-poor divide in his series Unequal Scenes. Miller shot the photos using a drone, using the elevation to provide an objective, almost mathematical view of the problem. Through this effort, he hopes “to provoke a dialogue which can begin to address the issues of inequality and disenfranchisement in a constructive and peaceful way.”

You can visit the Unequal Scenes site for six case studies (including a description of the issues facing communities in each photo), head to YouTube for a small drone video clip or follow Miller’s work on Facebook and Twitter.

The Big Picture is a recurring feature highlighting beautiful images that tell big stories. We explore topics as large as our planet, or as small as a single life, as affected by or seen through the lens of technology.

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