The other side of Table Mountain – Cape Town


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 Table Mountain.

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

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 Bo-Kaap’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.
Cape Carnival

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.

 

Kramat

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.

 

 

Bo-Kaap Museum

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.

 

The other side of Cape Town-‘Township Vibes’

 

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.”

Gugulethu Seven Memorial

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.

Feel the township vibes in South Africa #Explore MotherlandAfrica