About Cape Town

Cape Town is South Africa’s second biggest city and the largest city of the Western Cape province. Around 3.7 million people live in Cape Town, marked by the famous Table Mountain on one side, and by the ocean on the other side. Originally, the area had been settled by indigenous San and Khoikhoi people. In 1652, the Dutch East India Company founded the first city of the South African colonial era in order to support the sailing trips to India. This is why the city is often called Mother City.

When I went there, I was astonished how “European” the city is. The city center appeared as a mixture between Dutch and English architecture – just with a pleasant climate and in an awesome location. Is it just distant destination for people who look for something familiar? Coming from the airport one already notices enormous slum areas alongside the highway. On the basis of the South African history they are called Townships. Indeed, these townships are rather the rule than the exception and have, as a whole, far more inhabitants than the European looking touristy city center itself.

Just black and white?

Langa is Cape Town’s oldest township and was founded in 1927. It is situated very close to the city center. Due to the overwhelming overpopulation many other townships were created in the following years. Nyanga, Gugulethu, Crossroads, Mitchells Plain (just for Coloureds) and Khayelitsha. To get an impression of the dimensions, just the latter one is inhabited by around 400.000 people. Accompanied by a local, I had the opportunity to visit the township of Langa. All the pictures you see here have been taken there at the end of April 2017. Undoubtedly, not every pauper lives in a Township – and not every resident of a township is poor. Nevertheless, in the whole area of Langa Township, with a population of more than 50.000 people, there lives only one single white person.

There may have been enormous improvements since the end of Apartheid in 1994. For outsiders it is certainly difficult to judge about the life conditions of those people. Anyway, there is still a lot of work to do as many people live in precarious conditions.  Every single person living in a situation of extreme poverty today is one too many.

What does all this tell me?

This is not the place to discuss about a Western style idea of material development and progress, but the idea of equal life opportunities is something many people in Langa have probably never heard of. Cape Town again made me aware of the fact, that the place and the conditions where you are born and where you grow up still are the most important determinants of your life.

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