TRAVEL SOUTH AFRICA A POPULAR TOURIST ATTRACTION


A FEW NECESSARY FACTS:

Population: 50.59-million South Africa.

Ethnic Group: Black African 79.4%, White 9.2%, Coloured 8.8%, Indian/Asian 2.6% 

11 Official languages: Afrikaans, English, IsiNdebele, IsiZulu, Sesotho sa Leboa, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, IsiXhosa.  The later is spoken by approximately 18% of the population.  It sure is fascinating to listen to, and everyone upon hearing this sound, immediately tries to imitate it, go ahead and see if you can master this – go here it's very short and sweet http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gytCi5a7AJg

Welcome to Langa 

Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©

As you may well know, I belong to a photo club http://helderbergphoto.com/ . Recently we had a guess speaker, Peter Haarhoff; owner of the “Cape Photographic Company” (see a link for more info at the end of this post).   One of Peter’s many excursions is a tour of Langa Township.  And it’s highly recommended not to enter any of South Africa’s townships without a tour guide.  Five members from our club, including myself, decided to venture on a tour with Peter to visit Langa.  Here are a few photos of businesses in Langa; including the butcher preparing a “smiley”.  A very popular dish here, this sheep's head is cleaned and then barbecued.  The name is derived from the grin the head exhibits once the lips have been seared off, revealing a smile and a set of teeth.

Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©

Shop Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©

Hairdressing Salon Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©
Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©
Art Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©

In Langa the different ethnic groups still practice their particular customs.  For instance, Xhosa boys coming of age at 19 are circumcised in ceremonial tradition, and kept away from home for about a month before they are returned as men.   By enlarge 80% of the population visit a Sangoma before consulting a western doctor.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sangoma


As a young child some 45 years ago, I clearly remember our African housekeepers and nannies referring to the Sangoma as Witch Doctor.  Not because he was a witch, but they believed that a Witch Doctor protected them from witchcraft itself.  I also remember these same nannies and housekeepers would place their beads on bricks way high off the ground; they feared the “Tokoloshe” a poltergeist created by the Witch Doctor.  This Tokoloshe according to them were very short, and so having their beds up off the ground, helped in their minds, because he was too short to get up there.  If you’d like to read more about this visit.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tikoloshe

Our trip to Langa was informative, humbling and most of all it reminded me how much I have to be grateful for.  There are just so many things that I take for granted, like the wrist watch I’m wearing that so fascinated the children; they kept taking my hand and looking and touching my watch as seen here in this photo taken by Peter our guide.

Noleen in Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©

We were led into a Sehbeen where traditional African beer called “Umqombothi” is purchased and consumed.  This beer is prepared outside the home here is an image of that process.

Stoking beer Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©
Once inside, we all sat on benches, lined-up on both sides of the wall, facing each other.  In the middle of the floor was a tin can, and everyone placed money inside this can upon entering the Sehbeen.  Nobody was in a hurry as everyone continued to talk and socialize.  Once enough money was collected, beer was served in that same size tin can and passed around from person to person.  It was 11am and I’m not use to drinking beer at this hour, so I had a small sip, for there was still much to do in Langa.

Peter’s truck was loaded up with food and some toys, which one of our members purchased on our behalf, and Peter’s request.  We aimed to hand it out prior to our departure to all our wonderful and willing “models” of the day.  Here are some of them....

Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©
    
Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©
Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©

Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©

Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©

Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©

Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©

Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©

Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©

Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©

High Society:
Lives in what is referred to as Langa’s "Beverly Hills".  These homes look like any home you’ll find in average neighborhoods across the US.  The owners of these homes are called “Black Diamonds” because they are the growing black middle class in South Africa.  And certainly these “Black Diamonds” can live in a variety of different neighborhoods in South Africa.  However they prefer to live here, despite the poverty and lack of resources, because of the community and culture they are accustomed to.

The Majority:
The majority of people in Langa are very poor and cannot afford a house.  They either live in hostels or in what is called shanty town.  Each hostel consists of units or apartments, with each unit having three or four rooms and each room houses approximately three families. The rooms are about 6 sq. meters and children sleep on the floor and the parents in a very small bed.

The Unfortunate:                                                                                                                      
Live in Shanties because they are the cheapest way to live. There is no charge for the land in Langa and people use whatever they can find to build their homes. Or if you have some money there are Shanty builders that will build you a place for a fee starting at about R4, 000 ($575). The government provides toilets and service for them once a week, they are all outhouses.  There is also a water hose for drinking, washing up and laundry.

Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©
The Middle Class:
Are people that were able to upgrade from “Shanty life” by building there Shanty on to an existing home and paying the homeowner rent each month, therefore giving them direct access to water and electricity.

Government Homes:
Beautiful homes build by the government is slow to find occupants because they cost approximately R3,500 a month ($500).
                                                                                                                 
I saw so many Coke signs and apparently Coke will give a free refrigerator to any establishment that advertises their brand and sells their products in developing areas.

Langa township Image: Noleen Kutash ©
It was time to say goodbye to our new friends in Langa and Peter or amazing guide; besides seeing and learning about Langa, we also greatly benefited from his assistance in helping us take better pictures.  So here is Peters website http://www.capephotoco.co.za should you find yourself in Cape Town.