Durban Bites: A Unified Space by Samora Chapman

We’ve got some bite-sized stories from Durban about Durban to share with you. First up is photojournalist and storyteller, Samora Chapman.  

Welcome to Poison City, where the seawater is warm and the curry is hot… it makes you sweat and glisten. It’s a place where everyone’s your homey (or ex-lover); where money’s tight, but life’s cheap and the sun always shines. The bars sell quarts and people still sing karaoke. ‘Load shredding’ means it’s time to hit the surf and deadlines are just guidelines.

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Durban is a jungle. Remember to close your windows or the monkeys will raid your kitchen and run like thunder on the roof. In summer the mosquitos will eat you alive, but there’re fireflies in the garden and tree frogs in the moonshine. Don’t fall asleep in the park; the ants might carry you away and basop for snakes and tokoloshes too.

Durban is a cultural and religious experiment. It’s India, Africa and Europe all rolled into one sticky/hot metropolis. It’s Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Zulu Zionist. It’s filthy rich and dirt poor.

Durban is punk as f#$k. It’s DIY and start-up, grassroots and struggle music. It’s a creative nursery sewing seeds in the wind. I sit back and watch those seeds land and grow in far off places. It makes me smile. Borders are cages anyway. 

Durban’s not perfect. But it is underrated.

I’ve been working as a photojournalist in this city for seven years (on and off) but I still feel disconnected sometimes, lost in the paradoxes. My Zulu is swak but I believe in Ubuntu. I have made many mistakes; under-estimated the power of words, lacked empathy, charged through stories like an imperialist instead of taking a back seat and letting people speak their own truths.

Of all the things I’ve learned, there’s only one I’m truly sure of – that there’s much work to be done to bridge the divides… between rich and poor, between races, between cultures.

I hope that, through storytelling with images and words, I can contribute to creating a better understanding and empathy between the people of my city.

Because, ultimately, we are all the same. We want the same things – a place to call home; love and happiness in our hearts, the respect of our fellow humans, the opportunities to thrive.

So here’s a small collection of pictures from the beachfront, my favourite place in Durban, and the most unified space in the Poison City…

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Words and pics by Samora Chapman.



Samora is a photojournalist and ardent storyteller who knows Durban like a brother.





  1. This piece of photojournalism is one of the best I’ve seen in years. Samora’s work, who I kinda know, is fresh and super relevant. I’m heartened to know that the art of photojournalism is alive and thriving in my home town.

  2. Always brilliant Samora!