After landing here in Cape Town, I checked into the New Backpackers and African Travel Centre in Cape Town. Cost per night, 145 Rand or about $15US per night. More on that later.
The main thing I came to see in South Africa was Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held for most of his 27 years in jail. That also included a tour of the townships first.
The township tour was lead by Livingstone, who first took myself and two guys from Iceland to the District Six Museum. The museum tells of the forced removal of blacks from an area called District Six in Cape Town area after the South African government declared it whites-only. The area’s proximity to the harbor and central Cape Town made it especially attractive to whites, hence the government making it white-only.
Since apartheid ended, the government has recognized the claims of previous residents of District Six and has pledged to rebuild new homes for them. But with anything fraught with political and personal motivation, the project has stalled. ONLY 24 homes have been built.
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After about 45 minutes at the District Six Museum, Livingstone drove us to the Langa township, the largest area of “re-settled” blacks in Cape Town. Trust me when I say that a blog post does not do this justice. You do not realize the poverty and squalor that people live in until you get here and see it.
Most township homes have no running water. Food is cooked on hot stoves, which makes fires in the townships so prevalent and dangerous.
This healer’s name is Ndaba. I even asked him about a cure for HIV/AIDS. He said that healers were working on one and that it would take time.
I have no idea what animal I am holding in my hand, but I am smiling nonetheless. Ndaba has the skin of a large cat on his head.
Cape Town is beautiful and there is so many activities to do. But how many visitors make their way to the townships, to see another side of the country besides what the tourist board gives you? That is not easy to take but important for anyone coming here.
Next time: Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island