The Women Who Sell Chicken Feet

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Orange Farm is one of many townships in South Africa with a high rate of unemployment that requires robust and new methods of income generation. In it’s many street corners women have come up with a unique ways of getting an income.

For some time now townships have witnessed the mushrooming of women that sell chicken feet at R1.00 each. They grill chicken feet on small fire cans made out of old paint containers.  The community gathers in the evenings to buy the gizzards, chicken feet, kidneys and even chicken backs that the women sell.

It is interesting to note however that none of these women that sell on the corners are South Africans and have not lived in Orange Farm for more than 10 years. Unemployment has been the issue in communities since the democratic dispensation in South Africa but, local members of the community did not take up selling chicken feet on the side of the road. Most of the local businesses are owned and operated by foreign nationals coming into the community with untested methods of income generation. In a rainbow nation; local citizens should be watching, learning and adopting new skills of income generation instead of relying on traditional forms of employment.

Sarah Ngubeni* (not her real name) a 39-year-old mother of two from Zimbabwe is one of these women. She came to Orange Farm in 2018 and has since been renting in the Drieziek section 1 area. She lives with her husband who does small jobs such as plumbing and repairs in people’s homes and she sells chicken feet for a living.

“I have been here for two years and only had only R200.  I decided to sell chicken feet and I make a profit which is helpful in the house.” said Sarah, while on her way home from the market to buy chicken feet with her friend. “Many people in the township will not do this job because it is not fancy. They will not sit under the sun all day selling chicken feet, especially on the weekends,” added Sarah.

Aside from unemployment, one of the challenges that South Africa is currently grappling with is Xenophobia. Some South African citizens feel that people from other countries, especially African countries, take their jobs and opportunities because they accept lower wages. Instead of welcoming and learning from those that come from other countries who bring innovation into our communities, local South Africans only see the threat to their livelihoods. This is why locals resort to xenophobic behavior towards those that exploit the opportunities that are right under their noses. They refuse to see that these women are dreamers and they will do anything to succeed, including selling chicken feet to feed their families.

This article was submitted on 9 August 2020. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

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