A New Perspective into Khayelitsha

What’s good fam? Here we are, your favorite bloggers: Tiffanie, Jason, and Hannah :). Last night we stayed the night in the township of Khayelitsha. While many people often think of townships as being made of up the zinc (tin shacks) there are huge portion of the townships that are made up of middle class blacks that represent Cape Town. We started off the morning with a delicious traditional South African breakfast! It consisted of a traditional minced beef with cornmeal, corn, and a delicious sauce which was spread on traditional South African fried bread.

Like many people in the townships we spent our morning in the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa. For some of us this this was an eye opening experience. The church service was loud and was enjoyed by everyone who attended. It was not only spiritually moving, but it also showed how connected the South Africa townships are during the church service. It was easy to tell that everyone that was there knew each other on a personal level. Not only was the pastor passionate about his preaching, he was also very happy to welcome new faces into his church. This is a part of the South African experience that needs to been seen by the outside world. The music during the church service was very moving and some of us even sang along! The choir was filled with heavenly voices which echoed around the small tent.  Near the end of the service everyone was holding hands and praying for each other and sending each other off with a blessing from God.

After the two and a half hour service, we spent the rest of the day touring around the informal side of Khayelistsha. When it comes to the townships, there are the formal and informal; the formal side are the original parts where the government started to build and establish living quarters for the people affected by government enforced removals, the informal side is where the overflow of the population have started to establish their own shanty towns. While the formal side receives postal service, has schools, hospitals, and many other amenities; the government refuses to acknowledge the fact there are millions of displaced people from the apartheid era that still need housing, so they took matters into their own hands and made their own homes. These homes are the ones people typically see in township photos, they are the colorful tin shacks (zinc shacks, as they are referred to by the locals).  Since the government is upset with the fact that people started to establish their own homesteads, they were left with no plumbing, electricity, or any other infrastructure. For many, their only source of water is a faucet every two hundred meters that is shared by the surrounding houses. No one has running water in their own zinc shack. We visited the Khayelitsha Remembrance Square in which we learned about the bill of rights in South Africa. We learned about freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom to choose languages and culture, freedom to education, food, water, healthcare, and many others. These freedoms were passed after the apartheid to make sure that all South African citizens should have access to education, healthcare, water, and food. The freedom of education provides schooling for everyone regardless of their economic background, for people who cannot pay the full tuition they have the right to go to school for free. All South African citizens have access free public healthcare.

Seeing this is hard to put into words, we cannot stress it enough or explain the townships to its full extent. On our tour of Khayelitsha, with every turn the “shanty town” just kept going and going. It seemed like as far as you could the shacks just kept going. After this tour as a group we reflected on our journey and agreed that we should appreciate our lives. People living in such conditions are brave. They struggle everyday but live and love like the est of us. They keep fighting for their lives.  This experience  made most of us aware of our privileges. These people could have been one of us but just by birth coincidence most of us were born in better conditions and have a better life-style.

 

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