Wednesday, 11.10.06

We had booked the township tour for the afternoon so we had plenty of time for an exploration of the city centre.

Our first visit was at the Castle of Good Hope, which is the eldest originally preserved european building in South Africa. The bastions of the pentagonal building offer splendid views of the city, Table Mountain and the Waterfront.


City Hall with Grand Parade and Signal Hill in the background


De Kat balcony at the Castle of Good Hope


Inner courtyard with Table Mountain view




Part of the university


Building at Long Street

St. George´s Cathedral


After the sightseeing we had lunch at the Waterfront getting more and more excited of the things awaiting us.

Waterfront with Table Mountain


The swing bridge connecting the Old Trading Port and  the Clocktower


We had been collected by our guide Samantha at the tourist information centre. Her newly established company "Camissa Travel and Marketing" offers township visits for small groups only. We were four with a Dutch couple accompanying us.

Our first stop was at District Six, a former interracial quarter that was a thorne in the flesh of the Apartheid regime. It was cleared by force with just a few exceptions like some churches and mosques. After year-long resistance people were moved to several townships strictly separated by race. Even so the district remained an undeveloped area because people refused to settle here and even building companies refrained from building new houses. Now after the end af Apartheid the quarter slowly comes alive again.


Then we entered the black township Langa (Xhosa meaning sun), where Samantha was born and is still living there. We visited Momsa, an old woman looking to keep alive the traditions of the Xhosa. She told us of the rites still alive that - if need be - are adjusted to modern life - for example the initiation process of young men is no more a matter of 3 months but 3 weeks taking place in school holidays...

Our next visit was at the community centre which offers several possibilities of education and training like pottery, metal works or different sorts of art. At an unemployment rate of almost 30 % it is very important for people to have something to do.

Momsa with pipe - traditionally only Xhosa women smoke


Pottery at the community centre

Small shop for daily needs

After a short walk we could experience how people live here and what improvements are being made in general. While in the older houses being former workers´ quarters 2 or 3 - not even related - families have to live together at very little space the newly renovated houses offer more space for one family each. That´s a big step to more quality of life and also infrastructure is improved little by little with tarred streets and renewed electric power supplies.

Houses old and new

Langa "new"

At last we visited some women cooking sheep heads in the streets. The slaughterhouses have no use for the heads and so the women get them very cheap or even for free. First the wool is charred over open fire and then removed with hot irons. The now naked heads are cooked in large pots, cut into halves and then sold. Our crazy Dutch guy bought one and we consumed it together with a pinch of salt. It tasted not bad at all reminding me more of cooked pork than of sheep. 

Sheep heads on fire


Second step removing the wool


Ready for eating


A pinch of salt and...


... bon appetit!!

Cellphones seem to have a strange attraction to kids all over the world

At the return journey we passed by a large number of illegal shacks. People from all over the country coming to the towns looking for job opportunities often see no other way to get a roof over their head.
But there are also some people who could afford better housing but prefer not to have any regular duties and instead buy all sorts of consumer goods ranging from the newest Nike boots to even a car. Which is a strange sight parking in front of one of these shacks sometimes in the evening...
Like somebody said, "Don´t try to understand it - just try to accept it...".


Anyway it was a great experience to see these people with their unbroken vitality. We strongly recommend a township visit to everybody touring South Africa. Normally one only gets to see the "white" South Africa without getting to know anything about the majority of the country´s inhabitants. Even so we would recommend choosing a smaller company because maybe otherwise you end up being carried from one place to another looking out of the windows of a bus staring at the people like in a zoo... We "only" visited one township - but really got in touch with the people what is much more of an experience. => 

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