Langa Township Immersion

Initial Gathering

My newest adventure? Township Immersion! I was invited to go along on an educational Township Immersion of Langa last week courtesy of SidebySide Township Development who aims to give the market access that township entrepreneurs deserve. I’m not going to lie, I was hesitant at first having grown up hearing only the bad things that happen in townships. Boy was I in for quite a surprise! I ended up having an immensely fun day that catapulted me far out of my comfort zone in the best possible way and squashed so many misconceptions I had about townships.

A group of us from various tourism companies met up at the Townhouse Hotel in Cape Town where we discussed what development meant to us before we were driven to Langa.

We started our day with a visit to Sihle Tshabalala’s home. He introduced us to his family, took us on a walk-through of his home and explained some the significance of his Rondavel and cultural norms. We then hit the streets of Langa for a nostalgic Walk Down Memory Lane as Sihle told us a bit of his childhood and the nonprofit digital skills academy, Quirky 30, he established for at-risk youth.

After a few hours of walking and talking, we were sufficiently hungry and paid a very much needed visit to Jordan and his restaurant, Jordan Ways of Cooking. Let me just say one thing… YUM!! The atmosphere at Jordan’s Ways of Cooking was so relaxed and his food was so great, I felt right at home. While stuffing my face with a Double Cheeseburger and Chips, Jordan joined us at our table where we engaged in a hearty conversation about how Jordan started up Jordan’s Ways of Cooking.

Finally it was time for the next activity on our itinerary – an African Zumba class at the Guga S’thebe centre with the very talented and passionate, Sofire, of Sofire Exercise and Entertainment Fitness, who also partnered with the local youth dance project, Jika Madinga, founded by the respected dance professional and entrepreneur, Thabisa Dinga. Now, for anyone who knows me, knows I don’t dance in public. This was all changed when I was stuck in the middle of the dance floor between a whole lot of little Zumba protégés. My immediate thought was “Oh no. Oh no no no no no!” Then the music started, and I realized there was not getting out of this and was just like… “Alright, we’re doing this” and gave it my all. I am still stunned by how much fun it was and how much joy and laughter there was in that room (Mostly by me laughing at myself in the mirror because I constantly got the moves wrong. This body was not made to move like that)! Afterward, we chatted to Sofire a bit where he told us a little about his past and his passion for creating a safe and inviting environment where the children of Langa could come and express themselves in creative ways.

It was so great seeing members of the township really striving to uplift and develop their community! Final thoughts on the day: it was a major success!

Monique Marais