Tour of a Cape Town Township

Broken glass lined the wall’s edge only steps away from the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Like barbed wire but prettier, the jagged glass edges sparkled and reflected the morning sun, its sharpness a deterrent to thieves, intruders. Gates and high walls and barbed wire surrounding and shielding wealth and money.

From the highway you can see the shanty towns, metal and cardboard sheeted houses just big enough for a bed or two and a small kitchen. Bathroom down the dirt road in an outhouse by the river. Litter strewn and blown around. Children running and playing. Women washing clothes by hand.

Others live in dormitories. Three families to a room with only three beds and a TV. Children under 5 sharing the family twin bed with their parents, older children in the hall, sleeping mattress to mattress.

We walked through Langa Township, its resident, Siviwe of Cape Town Township Tours, our guide. We learned how to say a few words in Xhosa trying our best to click. We learned to greet people in their language as we entered their homes and learned to say thank you as we left. We watched women searing sheeps’ heads, making “smilies” a local delicacy. We passed small stores with hand painted signs. We saw a bed and breakfast and even a BMW. We learned that the community feeling is so strong that even those who make it big, the soccer stars for example, don’t want to move out. Instead they build a brick house in the “wealthier” area of the township.

Our tour ended with the children, dancing and singing, their smiles and talent giving us all hope for their future.

Photos on this post by Tommy Taft.

2 thoughts on “Tour of a Cape Town Township

  1. You captured the township experience so well with a few words. We were lucky enough to experience it also with Nathi, Siviwe’s partner.
    Deb, Margie’s friend and fellow SA traveler


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