Township Tour

We went to go visit quite a cool town on Thursday last week.

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If I weren’t going to write any more or show you other photos, you probably would have thought it was a town like any other. Technically it is, except if I were to say that we went to go visit the township Khayelitsha, you would probably be wondering where all the shacks and strange houses were. Khayelitsha has the word township associated with it and yes, it is correct to call Khaylitsha a township, but I think the word township can often put the wrong picture in people’s head; “Oh Khayelitsha, yes the township, the slum – no we don’t go there, it’s dangerous”. Well, yes it is a township – but it is also a lot more than just a stereotypical township. It’s a town like any other, but it’s a place where people live with much lower standards of living than what “we” are used to.

I feel that the moment someone talks about a township, the images that would pop up in people’s mind would be something along the lines of:

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And yes, I took those pictures, so we did see shacks, people living in corrugated iron houses (that’s what they call the material the houses are made of), but we definitely saw a mixture of proper brick houses and shacks.

I just wanted to really enforce that idea before I explain more about the township tour, because I think it’s really important that as many people as possible understand that when people call a place a slum/a township there is a lot more to it than just being a smelly place full of trash and people being unhappy about living there. There is a lot of misconception and misunderstanding when it comes to these places, because I suppose a lot of people simply haven’t been to slums/townships. That is why, we (3 of the Norwegian girls, Ed, Heather, and I) thought it would be a good idea to be able to go on a tour of Khayelitsha and get a chance to see the different sides of it and to actually get to know the place we are working!

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I have a million pictures to show you and a lot to tell you – it was such an interesting 3-hour trip!! There are a lot of township tours that are very ‘touristy’, but the one Ed had chosen for us, was guided by a man who had grown up in Khayelitsha and had started his own tour business – so it was a great way to support his business and you got such a ‘real’ view into what it was like. He also had a very positive way of looking at the town – really wanting us to see the development and good things that are taking place there. Honestly, if anyone is planning on going to Cape Town, do this tour – it’s a must!

The first stop on our tour was a small museum of the history of Khayelitsha. Our tour guide, Loyiso explained a bit about how the township came about and some historical events which have taken place in Khayelitsha.

There was also a poster of what the voting paper looked like when South Africa had their first democratic votes in 1994. Haha – look at the party Sports Organisation for Collective Contributions and Equal Rights (S.O.C.C.E.R.) and The Keep it Straight and Simple Party (K.I.S.S.) – hahah, Oh South Africa!!

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Next up was a walk up to Lookout Hill, the highest point in Khayelitsha, where we got a good view of how big Khayelitsha is. It is the biggest township in South Africa, stretching 50 square km. Indeed it is a very big area, but seeing as there are 2.2 million people who live there – it is very far from being big enough. According to our guide, an area of 50 square km should house around 50 000 people and in Khayelitsha there are 2.2 million!!

From the lookout point, we saw the more affluent areas of Khaylitsha where for example the doctors or government representatives live.

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This area of Khayelitsha is the most affluent/wealthy area

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Another one of the Cape Town’s yellow frames (unfortunately it was too cloudy to be able to see Table Mountain)

Stop numero 3 – Zibonele Radio Station. Yes, indeed we went inside a local radio station! It was a very cramped area but really cool to see.

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Cramped working conditions

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We then got on a local mini bus taxi (yes it is a mixture between a mini bus and a taxi)! It might not sound too exciting, but these bus/taxis drive like crazy! They are everywhere and believe they own the roads – so here we go, hopping on expecting our deaths to be near. The drive went really well actually, but you should’ve seen the faces of the people getting on – 6 white people sitting on a local bus/taxi is not a common sight – haha!

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We ended up at a small coffee shop called the Department of Coffee. There were three guys from Khayelitsha who had gotten together and started this place and now they’ve opened up in several places!

The coffee was also ridiculously cheap: 10 Rand for a big cup of cappuccino, that’s 5.70 NOK or €0.71!!

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IMG_9448Next we just did some walking, and I snapped away with the camera – so hopefully the following images can give you a good enough idea of what Khayelitsha is like.

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You could always come here to get your new refrigerator 

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As you can see, they have gas stations like any other place would have…

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…But some of the supermarkets might be of a slightly lower standard than what you’re used to

DSC_0031 Would you eat your fish from here? 

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Hair salons are everywhere in Khayelitsha 

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and this is what hair salons look like inside

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No Prada shoes, but we did find Nike trainers!

IMG_9463 Is this where I’ll end up working? 🙂 

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Spaza shops are what they call all those container shops that sell drinks and snacks. School children in South Africa have Spaza Shop as one of their vocabulary to learn about ‘What you find in town’ haha!

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And this is a church of course …. (a church always has the blue line at the bottom and the rest painted in white) 

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Don’t be surprised if you see goats everywhere, they’re very important in the Xhosa culture

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This is the Khayelitsha Football for Hope Centre which was built in cooperation with FIFA before the World Cup 2010. Before, this was an area with a very high crime rate, but now crime is very rare to see

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We are in Africa after all…

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SPAR shops like any other place 

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Lucy, Sylvia, and Tina looking like true tourists

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Chicken feet anyone

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Renovating? Building a new home – just call 0733577538 – I’m sure they deliver abroad as well

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See Ed’s comment – This is illegal pub in Khayelitsha has the nicest hedges around

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Finally I can have my kettle fixed…

Our last stop was to a crafts market where we could talk to the people who made the jewellery, pottery, paintings on display!

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IMG_9418After our tour we all went to Fikelela and Heather did her lesson with the children.

I’m so glad I got to join the walking tour – it was so great to see and my understanding of Khayelitsha is very different now than what it was before.

So thank you to Loyiso for being a great tour guide and I highly recommend this for anyone visiting Cape Town 🙂

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