‘I love horses. Riding a horse makes me happy.. it makes me feel free.. sometimes it feels like flying’ proclaims 11 year old Muhtle, who has been riding horses since the age of three. In the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, horse culture plays a significant part of society, which can be seen through the communities in regard to the animal’s high economic and social value. To the people of the Eastern Cape horses are sometimes the only mode of transport to conquer the mountainous environment, and they are vital to the functionality of the community. Daily life in the remote rural villages has not changed much in the last thirty years. Politicians have made many promises, but large parts of the rural areas are still underdeveloped and remote. Public schools are heavily under resourced and student drop out rates are soaring. The majority of people live without reliable electricity, running water, or sanitation. There exist no cinemas, theaters, social clubs, youth organizations, arts clubs, and other kinds of entertainment or luxury. Small taverns are one of the few alternatives, and alcohol consumption is excessive and accepted as a part of the culture. At over 35 percent, the Eastern Cape Province has by far the highest provincial unemployment rate in South Africa.
ZUMA Press Launches this week: “Eastern Cape Cowboys”. Photography by © Stefan Kleinowitz.