GirlZtalk road trip, into the rural heartland of Limpopo, started in Johannesburg in the early hours of the morning. The streets seemed strangely empty, as the country slumbered, still savouring the end of the festive season. But two decorated mini-busses, parked on Ntemi Piliso street seemed to be buzzing with music , laughter and excitement as 20 SEED Community girls gathered to begin an 8 day road trip to Limpopo.
The purpose of the GirlZtalk road trip is to capture the distinct voices of girls, both urban and rural, as they explore the realities of what it means to be a girl growing up in South Africa today.
GirlZtalk aims to put a face to the overwhelming statistics of teenage pregnancies, violence, rape and poverty; issues that threaten to suffocate the voice of girls in many communities of our country.
We are on a trip to the village of Ha-Makhuvha, just 20 kilometers from Thohoyandou. As one turns off the road in Makhado, driving East into the fertile valley, the vegetation changes, becoming lush and fertile. Litchi plantations line the road to Thohoyandou, villages are scattered across the green hills and mangos hang heavy on the trees.
We arrived in the village of Ha-Makhuvha, where we will be spending the next 4 nights, and were greeted by the deputy chief Mashudu Vhulahani. To accommodate the SEED girls, families within the communities agreed to host us, welcoming us into their homes and ensuring a true cultural exchange experience.
The “township girls” have embraced the experience. Possibly the traditional sour pap is too bitter for the Joburg palate, and the language barrier needs to be navigated, but our presence feels welcomed and there is an anticipation of what the next days will bring.