no matter how much housing is built in South Africa there is always more needed. due to a large influx from Zimbabwe, and other neighboring countries it appears that there will be "unofficial settlements" for a while longer. not all housing in townships is so ramshackle but the grafitti on the side of this building caught my eye. for instance in SOWETO in Jo'Burg there are very nice homes and a number of bed and breakfast arrangements for overnight stays. if you don't feel comfortable doing any touring on your own, there are companies that offer half day tours and can give you the history to go along with what you will see.
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Township Tour, Cape Town
Cordillera was our guide. Cleared eyed and witty, I liked her immediately. Townships were created as living areas for non-whites during Apartheid and are still home to a large percentage of Cape Town's population today. Most of Cape Town's townships are concentrated in the area known as the Cape Flats east of Table Mountain.
Our half-day included include a visit to a shebeen (pub), church, hostel (think public housing), and a traditional healer. It feels awkward to tour someone else’s poverty but how deep could our empathy be when we have no knowledge of their reality? Without empathy and knowledge, how could we possible find ways to do good constructively?
Cordillera shared the events of the previous evening with us. Her brother was out at a shebeen drinking, a bar fight broke out and he was stabbed in the neck, just missing the jugular vein. She spent the night in the emergency room with him. This happens a lot in the township she says.
On the tour, we drove by her brother’s house. She stopped near it and was pointing out various elements in that section of the township. We asked her if she wanted to go in and see how her brother is doing this morning. She paused for a long second. She wanted to. I can see it on plain as day. Except, she decided not to. Is it bc she fears it would get back to the tour company and reflect badly on her? Is it bc she didn’t want to share her reality with us so intimately? I couldn’t tell.