One of the standout parts of my South Africa visit was hanging in Langa Township on the outskirts of Cape Town city. When I heard about the townships before going, it evoked thoughts of ghettos or shtetls, and the view of the townships from the highway, supported that thought, with the sight of hundreds of corrugated metal shacks tightly fit together, all jimmying electricity from one overused electrical pole.
Truth is, though, the township feels nothing like that. There’s no denying that there is a major lack of resources available, and by Western standards, there is incredible poverty, but people in Langa just hustle harder to make it work. There’s still community feeling, neighbourhoods within the township of different levels of means, and residential and business districts, from the woman who makes the goat’s heads (everyone’s favourite food), to the shibin (communal beer hangout) to shipping container barbershops and salons.
One of the coolest things going on for the young people is Happy Feet, a dance program started by my new friend Siviwe from Langa and his contemporaries, to get the youth working together creatively, and make it possible for them to perform all over South Africa, and bring in some extra income for their families. It also just looks hella fun! Possibly the most important thing, as Siviwe told me, is to introduce to the kids to the world that is outside the township, so they know the possibilities that could be for their own lives.
Check it out (this is going to be the best you click on all day, I promise):
The swagger of these fellas is unreal. And i LOVE the call and response. I’m working on a link to share so that you can contribute to their project, if you’re so moved. Happy Feet has recently started a food kitchen (in a shipping container, of course), with the help of a nutritionist from Cape Town. They need to eat if they’re gonna dance, right? The kitchen feeds more than just the performers of course. (Fyi, $50 feeds a couple hundred kids)
If you feel it, please share this vid, and the post. We need to take of each other, right?