Nearly 10 miles from the centre of Cape Town Langa Township traces back to 1918 and it became a place to live for black urban workers and temporary migrants. They were housed in dormitories within barracks and for many decades they were for men only and there were very rigid restrictions. Whilst becoming the epitome of Apartheid, Langa was planned with mains drainage, water and electricity supplies, broad roads and kerbed pavements and some vegetation. The signs of the pre- and Apartheid eras are still there but there have been significant changes, especially over the last three decades. Langa with 200,000 people has become place for families.
There have been housing developments, including bungalows and apartment blocks and many of the barracks have been renovated. However, adjoining the previously built areas there are now sprawling shanties of shacks made of tin, timber, and cardboard, these generally lining each side of pitted, earthen, and sandy lanes. The shacks also appear in the built- up areas, generally serving as small businesses supplying goods and services to the community. Good examples are ‘Maribo’s Hair Salon’, ‘Busy Corner’, ‘Chip-Chop Tuck Shop, ‘Tula’s Hair Salon and Barbers’ and ‘The African Gospel Church’. Signs of progress include the new Mall with its supermarket, shops and ASTMs, the opening of the railway station, and the wonderful Arts and Culture initiative at the Guga S’ thebe Centre.
A simple statement about Langa as a place of high crime rates and unemployment and a high ratio of people with HIV/AIDS is misleading and pessimistic. It ignores the social mores of the Xhosa people, their family cohesion and the significant work of churches, schools, and charities to further the common good. There is dynamism, change for the better, a continuing upsurge of community work and signs of public investment and private enterprise. The place is abuzz with people, with many greetings and much laughter.
There is a wonderful sense of both the difficult past decades at the Makana Square and the Robert Sobukwe Memorial and the future in the nearby massive concentration of taxis and minibuses waiting for people to go on their ways to work or to play or to visit or to shop.
A government and municipal authority funded development in Langa of 463 modern apartments.
‘Cape Town Stories’ is the title of a book written in 2016 by LTPT Chairman Gordon Gaddes. The book is based on actual experiences and is an account of Apartheid and its the effects on the lives of families and individuals and provides a record of their resilience as they struggle to improve the lot of the poorest people of South Africa.
The book includes a chapter detailing the the current day-to-day conditions of life in Langa Township, the community which LTPT is supporting and the many examples of the rainbow signs of progress. To learn more about the book and read thechapter please click HERE.