Category "Discover", November 22, 2015 - Stefan Hollmann - Dieser Artikel in deutscher Sprache
Update October 3, 2016

Taking a walk in Khayelitsha

Some years ago we stayed in Khayelitsha for a night in Vicky's B&B. The next morning three guys from the neighbourhood took as for a walk because we wanted to learn more about the living conditions there. And it was a really interesting walk...

The streets of Khayelitsha, Cape Town

We had asked Vicky if it was possible to see more of Khayelitsha, and 30 minutes later these three guys picked us up. It was Saturday morning so they didn't have to go to school. For us it was a little bit adventurous because as white people you normally don't walk along the streets in a township. But accompanied by locals it wasn't a problem at all.

These guys where our guides in Khayelitsha, Cape Town

We walked through the narrow dirt roads between the houses and shacks, where cars can't drive, and passed a standpipe. A lot of people don't have floating water in their houses, so they have to fetch water here with buckets every day...

Standpipe in Khayelitsha, Cape Town

And only few houses have toilets, too, so the families have to use outside toilets which are provided by the government. But those toilets are not public - every family has its own with a key. And the dump is drained regularly. This looked much cleaner than in comparable situations we experienced in China...!

Outside toilets in Khayelitsha, Cape Town

A lot of paths were quite clean; we didn't see a lot of rubbish lying around or being blown by the wind, but we also saw some places like that one on the picture below. Not the best place to live in...

Khayelitsha, Cape Town

Availability of electricity didn't seem to be a problem in Khayelitsha - there were electricity poles all over the township. The guys told us that they sell the power in little shops. It's common in South Africa that you buy your electrical power like airtime for your cell phone via a prepaid concept. If you don't buy power then you don't have some. Unimaginable in Germany...

Shebeen in Khayelitsha, Cape Town

We arrived at a shebeen, and we were introduced to the owner. He immediately invited us into his home. Outside it looked like a quite big but normal shack, but when we entered it we were very surprised by all the comfort inside. A big tv-screen, nice furniture, a bicycle ergometer... He works as a firefighter the shebeen owner told us, and he owns a flat in the city, too. But he didn't want to live there; for him it was more important to stay with his family and friends, and so he prefered a shack in Khayelitsha. He just doesn't show which comfort he can afford.
The shack on the picture below is not his. But now we know how nice and even luxurious it can be inside!

House in Khayelitsha, Cape Town

Recycling is a big issue in Cape Town, but the people in a township are already world champions in recycling everything. The following picture shows just one example of how to use empty bottles. We also saw preserving glasses used as lamps, and some people make phantastic crafts of it - yes, of waste!

Recycling in Khayelitsha, Cape Town

So it was a really informative and relaxed walk through Khayelitsha, and we got a closer view. We returned to Vicky's B&B, and we were not sure if the guys expected some donation. We wanted to invite them to a cool drink into the "Waterfront" (the shebeen opposite Vicky's B&B) but they dismissed our offer. They weren't allowed to drink alcohol, they said. So we misunderstood because when I mentioned a "cool drink" I thought about a coke...

Everything seemed relaxed, but I really advise: When you plan a tour in a township, don't go alone, go with a tour operator! I think we were quite save as guests of Vicky because she played an important role in the community. The fact that she herself was killed allegedly by her husband some years later show how present violence is in a township... The knowledge of her death really shocked us.

So be careful! For more information on township tours and current offers it is best to go to one of Cape Town Tourism's visitor information offices.

But maybe you've already had your own experiences in a township?