Each year on the 24th of September, on Cultural Heritage Day, people in South Africa celebrate and acknowledge their great diversity with regards to people, culture, religion and languages. Since 2005 this day has also been known as “National Braai Day”… So what could be better than following the lead of the locals and to have a braai on this public holiday? Together with two friends I went to Mzoli’s, which is a butchery in the township of Gugulethu, close to Cape Town. It’s a well-known and buzzing hot spot for tourists as well as locals. The concept is easy: buy your own meat, give it to the kitchen staff, find a table, wait for the food to be cooked and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. Well-known bands and DJ’s as well as other kinds of live entertainment contribute to a pleasant experience.
After we finished our braai, my friends suggested taking me to the nearby township and showing me where they live.
The weekend before, I already had been with my roommate and her colleagues from work to Khayelitsha – which is the third biggest township in South Africa. We’ve walked around, were followed by a big crowd of adorable children, chatted with some locals and went out to some of the bars in the evening. Since I had an absolutely amazing time there and everyone welcomed us so nicely, I was more than thrilled to see other townships and experience more of this culture.
We drove through Philippi, Crossroads and Nyanga, which gave me the opportunity to see many different parts of the area and to get a better insight of the daily routine of the people living there. We passed colourful corrugated-iron shacks, small shops, clothes-lines, children playing on the street and much more. But it was not only about what I saw on that day, it was more about what I felt… It is difficult to describe the atmosphere – but despite the poor living conditions, everything felt so alive and powerful. People were sitting and standing together and talking to each other. Somehow it seemed like there was a closer bond between everyone since they’re living together in such a confined space. You could see more interaction between family, friends and neighbours compared to other areas. Also most people were smiling and waving at me since it is quite unusual for a white person to drive/ walk around in these parts of the townships. All in all it has been a great experience to see and experience a different facet of South Africa and to be welcomed so sincerely.
I highly recommend visiting a township to everyone while staying in South Africa in order to get a better insight into another culture. But you shouldn’t do this on your own since it will be too dangerous as you don’t know where to go. Therefore, you might consider taking part in a guided township tour by Jenman Safaris and visiting the District Six Museum, some townships and learning more about apartheid and the social differences. If you are interested in this tour, you can find more information here.
Below are some more photos for you, which I’ve taken on Cultural Heritage Day.
– Jacky (Product and Marketing Intern, Jenman African Safaris)