Cape Town is effectively a tale of two cities – the cosmopolitan city center with its cluster of luxury villas that dot the Atlantic Seaboard and embrace the mountain, and the informal settlements that stretch as far as the eye can see. Visitors to the Cape are initially stuck by the vast areas of 'shack land' that spread along both sides of the highways that lead into the city but few venture into these bustling, vibrant settlements – and are much the pooreer for it.
During colonial rule and at the height of the apartheid regime, black people were forcibly removed from areas close to the city center in an effort to 'sanitise' the region. The existing regime further elected not to build any permanent structures or homes for the people in an effort to discourage further 'interlopers' from moving to the city.
But it is these same areas that offer a true glimpse of life for the overwhelming majority in Cape Town and every traveler is encouraged to pay a fleeting visit to these diverse, colorful neighborhoods of the Mother City.
Langa is the oldest of these settlements and the incongruity of the situation is even more marked as it is relatively close to the CBD and the adjoining waterfront where luxurious marina apartments offer accommodation to the more fortunate.
Established in 1901 when the city was still reeling from the destruction of the Bubonic Plague, local black residents of a farm were considered a health risk and moved away from the more affluent communities to Langa.
People of the 'Sun'
The occupants of this area, literally 'Sun' in English, were vastly instrumental in the struggle against the apartheid regime and the area and its occupants are dedicated to ending the scourge that decimated the lives of millions.
A visit to any township will unduly be one of the highlights of a South African holiday and the lively community lifestyle embracees the concept of 'Ubuntu', or 'togetherness', where everyone effectively shares whatever they have with the community.
Sheep's heads and pig's trotters are the favored cuisine of the township dwellers and chicken's feet are 'hot to trot' fast food for the masses. The streets are full of sounds of joy – children kicking soccer balls or dancing and singing traditional melodies or simply chattering happily with one another.
Shebeens and Spaza shops abound, selling locally produced sorghum beer, milk stout and other ales at half the price, as well as all the other necessities of life. Bead work and finely crafted basketry is available and so too is colorfully dyed fabric – perfect for an entire range of haute couture with a difference!
Although there has been an increase in the number of 'black diamonds', or the black middle class, able to afford homes in the more affluent suburbs, many of them have opted to stay in these vibrant communities where the township culture prevails.
Source by Lavana James