What are townships?
Townships are underdeveloped urban living areas that were reserved for non-white residents (black Africans, coloreds and Indians) from the late 19th century until the end of apartheid.
Townships were created to segregate and economically disadvantage black lives in every way (during South Africa’s apartheid). Usually they were built on the edge of towns or cities with horrible infrastructure and a lack of access to basic services such as sewage, electricity, roads and clean water.
In recent years, the township has started to be rejuvenated as the government has invested in improved infrastructure, but there is still so much to do.
The township of Langa
Langa is Cape Town’s oldest township, established in 1923. The name Langa means “sun” in the Xhosa language, but the name of the township is actually derived from the name Langalibalele – a famous chief who was imprisoned on Robben Island for rebelling against the government.
The township of Langa is truly the place where the heart of the nation beats. To experience the warmth, friendliness and humanity of township residents, you have to walk its streets. They are amazing and very different from the rest of the people in the city of Cape Town.
If you are planning your trip to South Africa don’t miss to visit one of the townships. That will open your eyes and make you understand better the history of apartheid and how the ‘Rainbow Nation’ truly lived and still live.
There are many tourist agencies where you can book a tour or just a guide to take you in “adventure” through one of the townships you choose to visit.
I highly recommend you to take a guide for this kind of experience. I booked a half day tour in advance with Camissa. We walk the streets of Langa, visited local homes and preschool. The tour guide was young, friendly and knowledgeable man who was born and lives in Langa his whole life.
Definitely worth a visit! Don’t miss to see a place where the real Africa is!