Sunday, October 19, 2008

Township Smiley

What is a smiley? In this case its not the friendly little neighbour boy peeking over the wall or the little round smiley face you draw or comment with on some forums. It is a township delicacy. The head of a sheep provides for some sought after meat for tired and hungry workers going home after a long day's work. These images I got at Njoli Square in the heart of Port Elizabeth's townships. Here traders sell everything from traditional herbs to chickens (live or plucked), mattresses to amazi (sour milk). Commuters catches minibus taxis home from, ladies have their hair done in container hair salons and the hungry gets their smileys.

First the sheep's heads get thrown into the fire to burn off all the hear and loose skin. This is where the name smiley comes from. Because the lips have been burned off, the teeth are visible and it looks like the head is smiling.

Here the ladies in blue is using hot wrought iron to burn off the remaining air and skin from the ears and whatever else needs to be removed. As you can see its not just the heads, but also the feet. The lady in the back has a pot full of cooked chickens and just sold on to the lady with the pink cloth on her head. The whole chicken is put into a plastic bag for easy transport home.

This guy was sitting against the wall enjoying his half a sheep's head which is sold at R15 (just less than 1 Pound Sterling or 1.50 US Dollars). He was telling us that he worked an early shift and was heading home. He also said that it tasted great. I believed him as the food was clinging to his beard all the way to his ears, so he must have been enjoying himself. He offered me some but I declined gracefully. I did buy one, though it was for an elderly gentleman who was short of change.


  1. Where is your spirit of adventure Firefly. Try a smiley and you may never look back.
    Next you can go for walkie talkies, which for the uninitiated are chicken heads and feet.
    Having said that I don't think I could eat anything that was smiling at me either.
    I'm signed in as Sam, but aka Max-e of the Maxfiles

  2. No I,m with you on that, I couldnt eat heads or feet, well knowingly anyway, they could be ground up in burgers and I'd never
    just love those pics :-) ( oh no a smiley)

  3. Yes, I must agree. No smiley faces for me thanks, at least not ones that are meant to be eaten!

  4. I think I would actually eat this, but as long as I don't have to LOOK at it. I don't think I would like my food to look BACK at me, while I'm eating it! He he ...

  5. Interesting, but I think I'd have to be pretty near starvation to actually eat that! Thanks for a fascinating lesson on a different culture, though!