You might have heard of glamour camping (aka glamping), but the latest fad for rich people to tour poverty is the Shanty town. That’s right. Move over slum tourism, where you only temporary look at poor people. Now you can live like one!
If you are looking for a spa and team building experience while sleeping in a corrugated metal home, then go to the Emoya Estate in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
Visitors can shun the traditional over-the-top luxurious stay so they can use ‘long-drop effect toilets’ and ‘electricity.’ There are showers and wifi too!
Zachary Levenson blogged about it for Africa is a Country on Monday. He points out that the cost for slumming it for a night is nearly the same as the median monthly income of a South African domestic worker. While visitors get to play poor for a night, the living conditions are not quaint for the people that live in them day in and day out. Levenson notes that the inhabitants of such ‘shantys’ are not doing it because it is fun.
Most offensive of course is the naturalization of informal settlements as some sort of indigenous habitat. No one wants to live in a shack, not a single damn person. This is a housing type and spatial form that emerges from necessity, precisely because there’s a worsening housing crisis in South African cities – not because this is how some select ethno-cultural group chooses to live.
The Tuesday episode of the Colbert Report rightly mocked the whole thing. Watch below:
Some pictures from the website: