Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cape Flats Township tour: 26th Sep

I did not enjoy the township tour but then I don't think you are supposed to enjoy it. I think its something everyone has to do when you are in South Africa and I found it informative and interesting. However I felt uncomfortable standing in a hostel room having someone explain how many families have to live in it. I know that some of the money from the tour goes directly to the local communities but I still felt slightly ashamed for being there.

The tour I did was very good. We first went to the District 6 museum to learn all about what happened to the people of that area. In the 1960's and 70's over 50,000 people were forcibly removed from their homes to make room for a white only area. The buildings were bulldozed and the people relocated to townships in Cape Flats. We only had 20 minutes to try to see the whole museum which just wasn't enough time but it was still interesting to see as much as we could.

We then went to a shebeen and had some umqombothi, a home brew made from fermented maize with a creamy look and sourish taste.

After that it was on to the hostels to be shown around by a local guide. This part of the tour felt a bit like a circus with up to 5 tour buses converging on the same place and being shown round by a local guide. The guide showed us where he used to live alongside 2 other families in a small room inside a hostel building. Then everyone moved across the road to see a lot nicer accommodation for the lucky people who were able to get out of the hostel accommodation. Between the two were some craft stalls set up just for this particular part of the tour where people could buy gifts.

Next was the healer man with all his traditional remedies. Again slightly setup as he changed out of normal gear into his traditional clothes when we arrived before answering questions and explaining some of his methods. There were more craft stores outside the place for after the visit.

For the next hour or so we toured some of the other township areas both black and coloured before our last stop at a creche were we could play with some of the small kids that were there.

As I said it was well done and informative and I am glad I did it but I would just rather not do it again.

I made a point of not taking snaps on the tour (it just didn't seem right) except at the shebeen and the healer mans place:

Ummmm Milky Milky!

Healer Man's Place:
I seen some really hideous things inside!

One of the traditional remedies?

Things I have learnt:

Over 2 Million people live in the townships outside Cape town with Khayelitsha being the biggest and worst. When we were travelling through the area I did notice that the shacks had house numbers - we passed ones which started with 5000.

You can actually buy ready made shacks - we were even shown a place that sold them.

Here are some links if you feel the need to find out more about it.

District 6 Museum

BBC Picture Story

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