Setting: I just come back from a cool Mexican restaurant where I had a nice chat with my cool Hostelling South Africa contact: Simon Lewis. Now on my room, before going to the bar.
Today: I felt a little bit underdressed.
I have done some cool and nice activities this week: I rode an elephant, gave food to ostriches, enjoyed several braais, had great chats with a lot of people, did some ziplining, saw the milkyway, I canoed, climbed in caves … I won’t repeat everything, no worries. And all these things were amazing.
But what I did today, touched me in an other, human way.
I went to a township with Camissa tours. I was lucky: I had a semi-private tour (there was also an Australian woman who had booked). The interesting things about these guides, is that they have grown up in townships by themselves, or still live there. Our personal guide drove us around in Langa (one of the biggest townships around/in Capetown), answered our questions and dropped us then in the hands of a local township guide who did a walking tour in the township. He showed us different aspects of the township, let us visit some different types of accommodation in the township, and let us feel the real atmosphere of a township. What really touched me, is the fact that people who live in these townships, try to make the best of their lives with what they have. They work in Capetown, but cannot afford a house in the city, so they live 10 km out of the city. All these townships, are relics of the past and the Apartheid regime.
Now, government is investing in these townships. You have the “Reconstruction and Development Program” or the “One shack down, one house up” idea. Government provides water, toilets (the basics for a living) in townships, and invests in building basic houses for people living there. There is still a long way to go, but there is hope. And people know that times are changing and they live with what they have, getting the best out of life for their children, and for themselves. In a longer post that I will upload one of the next day/weeks, I would like to reflect more on the townships.
I haven’t taken that much pictures in the township. Even if the guide said that we could, I didn’t find it that appropriate to do it. You can find some more pictures on my Google+ Account.
The Baptist Church
After our tour through the township, our Camissa guide took us to a Baptist Church in the township to attend a celebration. And this is the moment I really felt underdressed. Nearly everyone who came to the church was dressed in his/her costume or their most beautiful outfit. To celebrate the lord, to feel the “ubuntu*” and to be in the community. After a few minutes of singing and dancing, I couldn’t any longer sit still and I started moving on the music. It is amazing to see how strong people are united, how people go up in the whole experience and how important the “community” is in their life. Even if they don’t have that much, even if there are poor people, they don’t complain. They go on with their lifes. I loved the celebration, the whole ambiance, this moment of happiness and celebrating.
I made some films, sound recordings and other pics to reproduce the whole positive and sincere ambiance of the moment. I will edit them asap and will post them in my reflection about the townships.
Today was Youth Day, a National Holiday in South Africa. 16/06/1976. Soweto. Students began demonstrating against the obliged Afrikaans lessons at school and for better education. The government reacted in a devastating way: tear gas, live bullets were used to stop the protests. It didn’t work and chaos followed. 3 days of violence, 200 deaths (especially children). And then: months of protest and violence, and the “Cape Revolt” followed out of sympathy with the Soweto massacre. 16.06: students planned a peaceful protesting, now it is an important day in South African history and is still present in Africans minds. There are parades, commemorations and celebrations all over the country. And also in Capetown, and in the townships. We even crossed some children performing a commemorating dance in the street.
Once I finish editing the other movie, I’ll post my blog reflecting about townships etc.
*Ubuntu: There are many interpretations and definitions for this term. Nelson Mandela explains it like this: “A traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food and attend him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu, but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?”