Saturday, August 14, 2010

Imagining Mandela - Part 2: Township Tour

Following the visit to the District 6 Museum, the Harrington's, accompanied by Brian Smith, made their way into the townships. Townships were the response of the government to the forced removal of citizens in District 6 and other similar Districts around the nation of South Africa. At first the townships appear an image of poverty. House upon house, corrugated tin roofs, outhouses, trash in the streets and a few stray dogs. However, a morning with a good tour guide will give guests a much deeper understanding of what makes up the townships.

With nearly 2/3 of the population of Cape Town living in the townships, they are nothing short of life and activity. Numerous entrepeneurs post signs outside their homes advertising haircuts at So-and-So's Barber Shop or various grocery needs. Within minutes of entering the township of Langa, Mr. Smith inquired of Mr. and Mrs. Harrington whether or not they were hungry. He then pointed to the left and described a local favorite, smileys: boiled sheeps heads which, having been boiled, lips pulled back; seem to be smiling at the diner. The Harrington's passed, thankful for the simple breakfast of toast they were able to consume in the morning.

The Harrington's were taken into what used to be old hostels, where only men used to stay when working in the area but since Apartheid have been converted into housing for whole families. One room, no bigger than a small American bedroom, was home to three families. Parents slept on beds in the room while all the children from the 22 families sharing the 'hostel' shared a common floor. This of course is the worst case scenario and is related in large part to availability rather than poverty. Each of these families could afford one of the larger township houses, but are patiently waiting on the government to build more. It was in this neighborhood that the Harrington's received their first lesson in Ubuntu. The concept of unity amongst all of humanity. A concept they would soon see up close.

The Harrington's continued on their way and eventually arrived in Khayelitsha where they were to have the opportunity to meet with some of the communities outstanding citizens, entrepuneurs and practicers of Ubuntu. First they met Beauty, a woman with a beautiful story who will soon earn her own article in the Harrington Times. For now, suffice it to say that Beauty is giving this world Ubuntu by teaching women in her community to sew, for free. The couple then met Vicky owner of a Bed and Breakfast which Mr. and Mrs. Harrington quickly fell in love with and decided to book their last South African night there. The story of Vicky and her Bed and Breakfast is yet another story which will require it's own article. Behind Vicky's was a day care of sorts, started as a way to protect children and give them early education opportunities. The Harrington's enjoyed the smiles on the children's faces and the many songs they sung/shouted at the couple before they made their way out of the townships and into the city of Cape Town.


pharrington said...

Wonderful...I've been leaving comments, but now I'm told I don't have a google account!...the wonderful is about your blogging, NOT the no account:-)

Micah and SaraJane said...

Thanks for sharing about this part of your journey. I loved reading about it!


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