From shebeen to the nursery!!

Trip Start May 17, 2010
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Trip End May 27, 2010


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Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This morning we head off on our optional tour to the local Township of Langa.

Everyone had a worry that going into the township would be seen a s voyeurism, we were reassured that we were welcomed and the people who lived there both wanted more people to know how they lived and also welcomed the monies generated from tourism.

Our guides, Andile and Coceko (AKA Richard as his name was pronounced in clicks!) from  Inkululeko Tours are two young men who both live in the township and it is hoped that seeing them do well will act as an incentive for the youngsters they see everyday to see that there is a way out and that it is worth going to school.

Our first stop was the district Six museum. This was an area of Cape town that was predominantly a black area near to the docks where many of the Black community worked. In 1966 it was declared a whites only area and the removals began in 1968. By 1982 60,000 people had been moved to the Cape Flats township areas and the old houses were bulldozed only leaving religious buildings standing. No whites wanted to move into the area and to this day most of it is open grass covering the rubble.The museum has a large map on the floor showing the old areas, and wall hangings explaining what happened. One of the people who was removed is Noor Ebrahim and he has written a book about his experiences, he was in the museum and signed a copy for us.

After time to walk around here we went off to the township.   The sheer scale of the place is difficult to comprehend, and there are vastly different areas from real shanty towns made of old wood and cardboard, to "informals" wooden huts, hostels where families live in one room and share cooking and washing facilities, renovated hostels where everyone has their own facilities to small houses bought with a mortgage .This last area is known to the locals as "Beverley Hills"!

We drive past an area with stalls selling food, including sheep's heads which are called Smilies as they have the wool burned from them making the skin shrink and the sheep is seemingly smiling!

First stop is the shebeen along an alleyway of such shacks all full of men at maybe 11am;  we enter one which has benches all around and a lady brewer passes round  a can of beer which the brave try out and pass on. Andile teaches us a drinking song the gist of which is to drink quickly and pass on the can!

We then go to visit a hostel which has not been renovated where a family live in a small room and share the facilities with 12 other families. Amazingly the residents were all bright and cheerful and happy to welcome us.

Next a quick stop at the craft stall where most people were desperate to buy something just to give back something to the community.

We went to the pre school next and this is where the hearts really started melting as the children sang and danced for us. We practically had to force some of the group back to the minibus.

Coceko took us to his cousin's house where his cousin lives with his wife two children and his brother. His cousin is a security guard and has a good job in Cape Town. Coceko says that when people do well they buy or rent a better property within the township rather than moving away as this is where all their  friends are.

It was a salutary and oddly uplifting experience I would not have missed it and I think it should be compulsory for all visitors. It does raise questions of course, why are the charities not doing more, is there more the people themselves could do etc etc....

A free afternoon so we headed off to the V&A waterfront for a light al fresco lunch and an amble round the shops before heading back to the hotel to finish packing and head off for dinner.  The first taxi driver does not know where our hotel is so the lady behind grabs us with a casual "he's from Zimbabwe he doesn't know where anywhere is"!!!!!

Tonight's meal is at Bizerca, a Mediterranean style bistro we had seen recommended
in a UK foodie magazine that turned out to be across the square
from our hotel. We had a lovely meal again with two companions from
the tour so a very pleasant final night.
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