The Inequity and Resilience of Townships in Cape Town (Post Apartheid)


During the Apartheid area, many parts of the country were designated white areas. In Cape Town, South Africa, the white areas spanned out from the inner business district where they also controlled and maintained economical and political power. This Apartheid era effectively meant the removal of blacks in the city. This created a spectrum of less color as you moved in towards the city. This also meant that the larger population would be assigned to poorer schools, neighborhoods, and such, with less than adequate resources and funds.

These neighborhoods were then called “townships”. The townships consists of poorly arranged and crammed metal shacks, which are woven in by the excessive laundry lines and power cables which set fire to neighborhoods on the regular, devastating people who already have very little. Following the “end” of Apartheid, governmental organizations have stepped in to offer projects related to housing, pluming, and so-forth. The government housing has been called out for being cookie-cutter-like in comparison the two story, glass encased homes that fills the jewish neighborhood of camps bay which overlooks the ocean and table mountain.

Likewise, the long term portable bathrooms which receives no attention from maintenance, angered residents who saw the new Cape Town stadium, which receives little use, as looking like a large toilet bowl. This started the “toilet wars” back in 2013 where waste was thrown in streets, people took to the media, and people took to protesting with toilet seats around their necks. All of this protesting was to point out that residents of the townships still have to bus into well kept parts of the city to see excess amounts of resources being over allocated there. To elaborate on the lack of resources in the townships as well you will hardly find streets in some townships like Khayelitsha and Gugulethu.

But to pay homage to the townships we must also understand just how beautiful they are and what they represent. The townships represent the resilience of the communities to carry on, to carry through the hard work that built Cape Town. The culture and authentic vibe in the townships are capable of bringing back even the wealthy to party in clubs like Rands in Khayelitsha or even bringing back wealthy black leaders to live and promote development in the area. Surrounding these townships are places with braai (bbq), fish frys, food stands, barbershops, and excellent shops with great people, music, and atmosphere. Also the churches are lively and children play in the street in their school uniforms.

Personally, I lived in Langa during my homestay. This was the first township, and the township that many will say is the most developed and livable. Personally, also learned to not perpetuate bad narratives on where people live. Langa was a learning experience and I believe that we all could learn something from a resilient community like this one.