Langa Township tour, Cape Town

Day One of the adventure

We began with a Langa township tour; one of the biggest townships in Cape Town. Our tour guide was Richard (who lived in this township) although that was his ‘apartheid’ name – back before apartheid was abolished, everyone was given an English name at school (the British were too lazy to pronounce the foreign names…nothing new there then!) to be used instead of their original, African name. Hence the reason why you wouldn’t know who Rolilahla was but if I say Nelson, I’m pretty sure you’re going to end the sentence with Mandela (and you’d be right – ding ding ding, you don’t win anything; sorry!) 

Washing the boots

Washing her husbands boots

A family kindly let us into their home which was a stark reminder of just how much crap we, as ‘rich Westerners’ believe we need to fill our houses with. I’m not going to go all ethical on you so relax your butt holes. I LOVED coming home to all my crap. I’m just saying that when push comes to shove (wow, all this talk about crap and push makes me sound like an actual asshole lol) we can live without it. We, as backpackers, do. Everything we own that we NEED for our trip gets carried (or dragged) in a bag with us for months on end; it makes you prioritise which is what the family had to do.

Family Home

The family home

The house that almost fell

The house that almost fell

Langa township has been a particular thorn in the local governments side as it lines the main road into Cape Town and therefore one of the first places that tourists see. So the government came up with a ‘great’ idea and decided to build proper cement homes in front of the line of shacks. Unfortunately for the government, they’d hired a total dumbass and left too much space between the nice houses and the side of the road so the township’s people fought back with tarpaulin and wood and built another line of shacks between the good houses and the road. Real Africa: 1 Tourist Government: 0

The juxtaposition

Blue sky, green grass and the layer in between

It was an amazing place to visit and the people were incredibly friendly, if not very curious about us. It was my first experience of people staring at us as well. I’ve had it before when I visited the Dominican Republic; you’re paying money to visit, basically making it a tourist attraction (the people included) and they’re looking at you like YOU’RE the tourist attraction; irony at its most defined.

The bad on a backdrop of beauty

The bad on a backdrop of beauty

However, I’m very glad that I had the opportunity to do the Langa Township tour which is such an interesting and completely opposite side to the Cape Town, one of the places that makes South Africa so famous!  It was also incredibly interesting to hear about apartheid because when Nelson Mandela was released from prison I was too young to really understand what was going on and therefore didn’t get the whole ‘apartheid’ thing.  If you don’t either, here it is in a broken nutshell:

Some people in the black community got sick.  Stupid white people thought it was all the black peoples fault that they then got sick (it was bound to happen when the black community had such a poor quality of life and unable to keep their health).  Again, stupid white people then decided to segregate all of the ‘ethnic’ communities into separate districts in the country to keep away disease and they had a really crappy life.

Yes, this is a totally stripped down and simplistic view of the horrific time that the country went through but this is me explaining it and I hate over-loading this place with history and facts; it’s just not what I do.  BUT if you’re interested in finding out more then read about it here.

Come back next time to see just how confused the rest of South Africa is…

Don’t forget, you can view all of the above (AND MORE) photos on my Flickr page

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1 comment

  1. Jen

    Toni this is such an eye opening post, I didn’t know about the ‘apartheid’ thing either. I agree about the crap stuff too… I love my crap and constantly buy stuff for my flat that I don’t even have room for, but when I went to Bangkok and saw some of the shacks build with corregated iron it really put things into perspective.