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  1. Touring a township

    posted by Rebecca Keenan | 0 Comments

    Touring a township

    Feb102010

    I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this tour but I decided to do like I normally do. And that is keeping a completely open mind and asking as many questions as I can possibly think of while visiting a place.

    Four of us from Island Vibe left the hostel on foot with our guide Ntsiko, a member of the Xhosa people. That’s the same tribe as Nelson Mandela, who’s celebrating 20 years of freedom tomorrow.

    We walked towards the township learning about the fishing history of Jeffrey’s Bay, how the town came to be as it is today and also the divide that the apartheid years brought. The township – known as Marina township, I believe, isn’t far from the hostel at all and soon Ntsiko was showing us around.

    We got to hear about the cultural mix in this township, which is quite varied as people from all over South Africa have come here at one time or another looking for work in the fishing industry. As we walked along the streets one thing struck me and that was the bright colours on many of the houses. I actually forgot to ask if there was any significance to this, but it was definitely one of the things that I noticed.

    As we moved through the township the housing changed from these colourful houses to shacks. We stopped by the house of one of the township’s healers and even though she wasn’t at home we got to see some of the hides and ingredients that she works with.

    After that we sampled some traditional South African beer and then visited the most popular ‘shebeen’ (that’s the pub) in the township where men from the area were playing a pool tournament. Along the way we met lots of people, including Ntsiko’s cousin Chris who you’ll hear more about in my next post.

    It was really interesting to hear from Ntisko about the Xhosa culture and especially all about the rites of passage experience the young Xhosa men go through. To see a culture so apparent still was quite amazing really. In a world that’s becoming ever more homogenised it’s cool to see that cultures can retain their individuality.

    One of the best parts of the tour for me was seeing the school project which Island Vibe is involved in. They’ve been working with this particular township school for three years and the project will reach fruition soon. All that’s left to build is a security wall around it and the money for that wall is actually coming from the township tours that Island Vibe run. The hostel really is involved in making a difference in the local community and it was really cool to be able to see that.

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