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The township reflects joy in freedom, human rights, justice and reconciliation. From shebeens to sangomas, a township visit is a unique, emotional and sensory experience abuzz with vivid social culture. Each township tells its own story about its establishment, its struggle through the apartheid years and its current situation.
A township tour can be one of the most illuminating and life affirming experiences you’ll ever have.
Down the road from Cape Town, with its magnificent beaches and world-class restaurants, warm African hospitality awaits in a bustling environment that few visitors to the city ever experience. An offering of an authentic taste of South African Township life leaves and adventurous traveller a unique experience.
B&B accommodation in townships has bright, cheerfully decorated rooms with a strong African Flavour. Meals at this unpretentious focus on traditional Xhosa dishes.
Gugulethu, Cape Flats
Gugulethu ‘Gugs‘, – our pride -is one of the oldest black townships in South Africa and one of the most energetic and fastest developing.
Gugulethu was established in 1958 because of the migrant labour system. It grew as the number of migrant workers from the Transkei increased and Langa became too small.
It was originally named Nyanga West, rooms were allocated in hostels, where three men had to share a tiny room.These were times when poverty, oppression and overcrowding were the order of the day under apartheid rule.
The hostels were for men only, no wives were allowed to visit their husbands. Women were left behind in the former Transkei and Ciskei homelands. The hostels remain the oldest buildings in Gugulethu.
In our present day, ‘Gugs’ is a mixture of former hostels and tin shacks, people built for privacy, as well as brick and mortar houses in the wealthier ranks
‘Gugs’ is a vibrant, thriving community reflecting all classes of South African society. Soak up hot, township jazz at the Uluntu Community Centre, shop at NY1s Eyona Shopping Centre or watch boxing at the Indoor Sports Stadium on NY1.
‘Gugs’ was the first black township to have an information technology centre. Ikhwezi (the star) Community centre is situated just next to the Yellow Door jazz club in NY-3. The centre provides top class training in multimedia and youth development programs. The area has a sports field, community centres and schools.
Eyona Shopping Centre, Gugulethu has the Ubuntu arts promotion and Cyn Catering service situated at the Yellow Door Jazz Café. It is popular for its drama, art and craft stalls, marimba music and top class jazz.
Sivuyile – we are happy – is the tourism information centre in Gugulethu. It opened an art and craft shop in 1999 and assists college art, students and local artist. It also serves as a photographic gallery. Young artists in the community produce sculptures, ceramics, beadwork, traditional clothing and textiles.
The Link, the first independent Black township newspaper in Cape Town, founded in 1997, has its offices in the Sivuyele College.
The best way to experience ‘Gugs’ is to go and see for yourself.
The Direct Action Centre for Peace and Memory (DACPM) in Woodstock runs history and memory excursions and trains former freedom fighters to become excursion facilitators and take visitors to sites that are etched into South African memories: District Six, the Trojan Horse Memorial in Athlone, Langa and the Gugulethu Seven. The excursions have opened up spaces for freedom fighters to start the process of healing and reconstruction.
The tours also create the opportunity for others to listen, interact and understand what so many went through during the liberation struggle and the struggle of today: the struggle for jobs. Most stories that are told are very individual, very personal. And -also important- they are told with dignity.”
But the highlight of any trip to ‘Gugs’must be the Gugulethu Seven Memorial
On 3 March 1986, seven young activists were ambushed in a roadblock set up by police in NY-1 Street. The “Gugulethu Seven” as they are known, is one of the most callous examples of security forces operations. Built to commemorate their death, the Gugulethu Seven Memorial was sculpted by South African artists Donovan Ward and Paul Hendricks. The sculpture stands close to where the seven were murdered.
The cut-outs project onto the road surface in a play of sunlight and shadow that brings them back to life.
The work not only commemorates death but life and nation building – it combines elements of ruin or incompleteness with parts that seem to have just been constructed. It was unveiled in March 2000 on Human Rights Day.
South African Townships have an irresistible soul and vibe that will welcome you and give you the experience of a life time!
Alexandra, or “Alex” as it’s affectionately known, is Gauteng’s oldest township. It a cut–out section of the affluent suburb of Sandton.
Alexandra was established as a residential area in 1905 by a white farmer who wanted to establish a white suburb and named it after his wife. In 1912 it was transformed into a ‘Native Township’ where black people were allowed to buy land.
When black land owner rights were dissolved by the Native Land Act of 1913, Alexandra witnessed continuous in-migration due to its proximity to employment opportunities in Johannesburg.
Alex is the hub of culture, root culture. It also has its own community radio and TV station. Popular culture like theatres in the townships was a dynamic force which gave life and a dynamic force that gives hope to people.
Soweto is the fifth most popular destination for overseas visitors to Gauteng province. It’s Jozi’s tourism drawcard. One of the biggest attractions is the Mandela Museum, in Vilakazi Street. The former four-roomed home of Nelson and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is a deeply moving experience, that reminds us of our past, and gives us hope for the future.
One of the biggest attractions is the Mandela Museum, in Vilakazi Street. The former four-roomed home of Nelson and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is a deeply moving experience, that reminds us of our past, and gives us hope for the future.
The Hector Pieterson Memorial is three blocks from where 13-year-old Hector was shot and died on 16 June 1976. On the day when students in Soweto marched against the repressive imposition of Afrikaans in schools.
A Soweto trip is incomplete without visiting the Regina Mundi Catholic Church, the largest in Soweto. A spiritual haven for many Sowetans and played a pivotal role in the history of resistance to apartheid.
If you’re planning a wedding how about the Ubuntu Kraal? It’s collection of straw-roofed rondavels that form a homestead, popular as a wedding and conference venue.
The Soweto Festival is held annually every heritage day weekend. The venue is the magnificent Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, the site of the signing of the historic Freedom Charter by anti-apartheid organisations in 1955.
This is the ideal place for the people of Soweto to congregate over Heritage weekend as the Square is a national monument. The Soweto Festival centres around an exhibition and day-long entertainment events.
The Katlehong township area smouldered with political tension in the early 1990s and the name was associated with violent protests and a low-level civil war amongst factions.
Art Centre has evolved into a showcase of exquisite ethnic artwork are influenced by township emotional turmoil themes.
South Africa – few can rival South African soul in the townships. Today we explore Kwa-Zulu Natal. Walking the paths of some of the greatest leaders.
It’s another world and another time. This is part of the old Africa, where the amaZulu ruled unchallenged, a place of beaded headdresses and rawhide shields, beehive huts, and a lifestyle that properly belongs to the great age of Shaka.
Gain an insight into the amaZulus’ traditional way of life their beliefs, crafts, songs and dances at Shakaland, the open-air museum near Eshowe
This is the oldest town in Zululand. Shakaland is also the oldest Zulu Cultural Village in Zululand, originally built as a scenery for the movie “Shaka Zulu”.
It’s been converted into a Zulu homestead with thatched beehive houses arranged in a circle around the central cattle kraal. Visitors stay in beehive houses, with all the modern conveniences.
The village overlooking the Umhlatuze Lake offers the true Zulu cultural experience and traditions, including pottery, beadwork, beer making and tasting as well as magnificent foot-stomping, ground shaking demonstrations of traditional Zulu dance.
Assegai-wielding warriors will teach you how to fight. You can also witness the age-old methods of making spears and shields, skills that are to a large extent disappearing. This is one of the few men who still know how to make the broad stabbing spear introduced by King Shaka. A memorable part of the tour is the spear throwing and stick-fighting demonstrations.
The Memorable Adventures of Zululand
The Kwa-Zulu Natal province is rooted in the legacy of the Zulu nation. There are ample opportunities to explore the fascinating world of the Zulu’s.
There are many private as well as provincial game reserves showcasing the abundance of biodiversity in the region. You get an authentic safari experience and a historical viewpoint through the battlefield routes of the historical town, Vryheid which has tea plantations and cattle ranches,
The Battlefields Route is significant as it was is where there were historical clashes between Zulu, Brit, and Boer (farmer). The Kwa Zulu Natal battlefield region extends from Thukela river at Dolphin coast to Richards Bay further in the north to Paulpietersburg.
Paulpietersburg is 50hm to the north and links the inland of South Africa with the coast of Zululand. This town is widely known for sulfur springs and therapeutic spas.
The major attractions are Zulu culture, birdlife, and many nature and game reserves.
Zulu culture is all over South Africa, but not as poignant as the Zulu kingdom.
Visitors can feel and taste true Zulu hospitality in dance, food, and song. There is an opportunity to become part of authentic Zulu weddings, assist with chores in the village and even visit a local sangoma (traditional healer).
You can take an ox-wagon visit to the Zulu beehive huts. Or even explore local shebeens, traditional medicine outlets. You get to learn how locals adapt age-old traditions into modern living.
A Zululand heritage experience is by stopping at Melmoth ‘where the legend King Shakas was born ‘the Valley of Kings’
The Emakhosini Valley is the site of graves of many Zulu Kings
The Zululand Birding Route has 650 recorded species of birds. The Dlinza Nature Reserve is a popular spot for birding.
Vast nature and game reserves from subtropical forest reserves along the coast as well as game reserves further north
Planning to travel in Africa? The magnificent Table Mountain is a drawing card and the starting point is the infamous Cape Town for most… today we look over and behind of Table Mountain.
The perks of traveling to Africa are endless. Instead of scanning the game parks for rhino or setting off for a day sampling Cape chardonnays, take a look at the other side.
The townships of Cape Town….. You inhale the roots of freedom, exhaling air of human rights, justice, and reconciliation. A flow from shebeens to sangomas, the emotional sensory vibe sets you sparkling off with a vivid social culture. Nothing is amiss as every township bubbles with its own unique story about its struggles and how it evolved and revolved to its current state
A treasure in the center of Cape Town – Bo-Kaap
Beyond the hustles and bustles, just beyond the city of Cape Town, you find Bo-Kaap.
The “Bo Kaap” is one of the most interesting parts of Cape Town culturally and historically. Colorful houses, steep cobbled streets, the muezzin’s calls to prayer, and children traditionally dressed for Madrassa add to this unique Cape experience. It is a multicultural area, tucked into the fold of signal hill. Use the cobblestoned streets as your guide and you will be lead into a lively suburb filled with brightly colored houses from the nineteenth and seventeenth century, shrines of Muslim saints, an abundance of beautiful Mosques, and the very first mosque that existed in South Africa.
Use the cobblestoned streets as you are lead into a lively suburb filled with brightly colored houses from the nineteenth and seventeenth century, shrines of Muslim saints, an abundance of beautiful Mosques, and the very first mosque that existed in South Africa.
The residents of Bo-Kaap are mostly descended from slaves who were imported to the Cape by the Dutch during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They came from Africa, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Java Malaysia. Some of them were political exiles and convicts. They were known as “Cape Malays”, which is incorrect as most of BoKaap’s residents are not entirely of Malaysian descent. Their many Indonesian traces of vocabulary in the dialect of Cape, for example, “trim-
They were known as “Cape Malays”, which is incorrect as most of BoKaap’s residents are not entirely of Malaysian descent. Their many Indonesian traces of vocabulary in the dialect of Cape, for example, “trim-makaasi” thank-you, as well as “kanalah” please! There are also many words, which have also been substituted with Afrikaans.
Funnily enough, Afrikaans evolved as a language of its own through a simplification of Dutch so that the slaves could communicate with the Dutch and each other since they all came from different countries and cultures. Muslims were the first to write texts in Afrikaans.
Each year on the 2nd of January, the Bo-Kaap celebrates a big street party, the “Coon Carnival” in the center of town. It was originally introduced by the Muslim slaves who celebrated their only day off work in the whole year. Nowadays men, woman, and children march from the Grand Parade to the Green Point stadium, singing, and dancing.
Kramats or Muslim Shrines are burial sites of Saints of Islam. Cape Town residents have for a number of generations paid their respects these Shrines. There are three Karamats in Bo Kaap, and Signal Hill behind BoKaap has two.
One of the oldest buildings in Wale Street 71 houses the “Bo-Kaap Museum”. It is necessary to see since it feels like your stepping back in time. Built in by Jan de Waal in 1768, the museum was originally the home of Abu Bakr Effendi, a well-known Turkish scholar and prominent leader in the Muslim community. He was brought here in the mid-19th century to help quell feuding between Muslim factions and is believed to have written one of the first books in Afrikaans. The house has been furnished to re-create the lifestyle of a typical Malay family in the 19th century within a national socio-political and cultural context. Look for works by artist Gregoire Boonzaire, who’s famous for capturing the chaos and charm of neighborhoods such as the Bo-Kaap and District Six.
The Dutch brought slaves that were skilled artisans, political exiles, artisans, religious leader’s famous scholars, and convicts too. Islam, who roots started in Saudi Arabia some 1400 years ago, was brought to the Cape in the 1700’s. Skills and talents passed down from generation to generation accompanied these slaves. Not only skilled artisan but also superb cooks and cuisines blossomed. The Cape Malay Cuisine is not only delicious but also unique and has played a huge role in South African dishes.
A township tour can be one of the most illuminating and life-affirming experiences you will ever have.
Township in South Africa reflects the celebration of joy in human rights, freedom, justice and reconciliation. From the experience of shebeens to visits with sangomas.
A township visit is an emotional and unique sensory experience that is abuzz with the vivid social culture. Each township tells a story of its own about how it was established, the struggle through the years of apartheid and the current age it has evolved into.
South African townships have an irresistible soul and vibe that will welcome you and give you the experience of a lifetime!
Alex – “Township of Rhythm”
Alexandra is affectionately known as ‘Alex’, it is Gauteng’s oldest township. Initially, it was established as a residential area. This was in 1905 by a white farmer. He aimed for a white suburb and named it after his wife. In 1912 it was transformed into a native township. Black people were allowed land ownership.
In 1913 the land act dissolved land ownership rights by blacks. Alexandra continues in migration as it was close in proximity to the employment opportunities in Johannesburg.
‘Alex’ has an interesting and turbulent and past, a fascinating present, and a very promising future. It also has it’s own community radio and TV station.
Popular culture like theaters in the townships was a dynamic force which gave life and hopes to the people, it’s a dynamic force that gave hope.
A township tour will give assess to the best shebeens in where you can quench your thirst on the traditionumqombothi, an African beer that is home-brewed, and taste amazing local delicacies.
You can also stock up on arts and crafts from street vendors, curios and explore the world colorful traditional medicine world.
The outdoor markets, the St Hulbert Catholic church, Mandela Yard Precinct and traditional healers create a fascinating new and old blend making Alex a fascinating township tour.
A Visit to the iconic township of Soweto
Soweto is the fifth most popular destination for overseas visitors to the Gauteng province. It’s ‘Jozi’s’ tourism drawcard. And one of the biggest attractions is the Mandela Museum, in Vilakazi Street. The former four-roomed home of Nelson and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela is a deeply moving experience, that reminds us of our past, and gives us hope for the future.
The Hector Pieterson Memorial is three blocks from where 13-year-old Hector was shot and died on 16 June 1976, the day when students in Soweto marched against the repressive imposition of the Afrikaans language in schools
Soweto tours start with, Hector Pieterson Museum and the Regina Mundi church.No trip to Soweto in Johannesburg is complete without a visit to Regina Mundi, the largest Catholic Church in the most popular Soweto.
It’s been a spiritual haven for thousands of Sowetans, it has also played a pivotal role in the township’s history of resistance against apartheid.
The Ubuntu Kraal is a collection of straw-roofed rondavels that form a homestead, popular as a wedding and conference venue.
Many will also be interested in the Soweto Festival. The Soweto Festival is held annually
The venue is the magnificent Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, the site of the signing of the historic Freedom Charter by anti-apartheid organizations in 1955.
This is the ideal place for the people of Soweto to congregate over Heritage weekend as the Square is a national monument.
The Soweto Festival centers around an exhibition and day-long entertainment events.
The capturing visit to Katlehong
The Katlehong township area smoldered with political tension in the early 1990s and the name was associated with violent protests and a low-level civil war amongst factions.
This, however, is a thing of the past and in some way seems to make the Art Centre even more of an achievement for being there. Some of the most exquisite examples of ethnic artwork are housed here and the center seems to have been as influenced by the emotional turmoil of the township as its inhabitants once were.
Welcome to motherland Africa! Welcome to South Africa!