Kenneth Gardens is located in Umbilo, Durban, and is the city’s largest subsidized housing estate. Kenneth Gardens has a rich and varied history. Before 1994 it formed part of the then government’s protectionist strategy to provide safe and affordable housing to poor and working class whites. After the beginning of democracy Kenneth Gardens reflects the diversity of South Africa, and an estimated 1500 people are accommodated in this fairly high density housing estate. What brings people together in this space are shared socio-economic circumstances. In Kenneth Gardens there are myriad stories of adversity being overcome.
The aim of this archive is to capture the narratives and knowledge that resides in the residents of Kenneth Gardens. Local knowledge, including the histories of neighbourhoods and the people who lived there, is at risk of being lost, as older members of families pass on or move away. This knowledge has the potential of creating cultural capital for current residents while the development of an online repository of local, user-generated content in the form of a collaborative website – holding articles, images, audio and video – could contribute to civic pride in Kenneth Gardens and an enhanced collective identity.
Current digital media technologies have a democratic potential, giving traditionally marginalized groups the opportunity to publish their own perspectives online and allowing them to partake in the global information economy on their own terms. Essentially, this means giving a public voice to the residents of Kenneth Gardens. Empowerment occurs through the community ownership of their ‘story’ but also through acquiring valuable and transferable skills. This project recruits volunteer community journalists between the ages of 18 and 35 from Kenneth Gardens who are trained in media production and online publishing. The community journalists collect stories – through interviews and research – around a number of topics related to Kenneth Gardens.
The digital archive project is one of a series of projects as part of the DUT Kenneth Gardens Community Project. We wish to thank the NRF for providing funding towards this community engagement project.