A Day in Langa

By Amanda B

Today, Sunday January 10th, we traveled to the township of Langa outside the city of Cape Town. While we were there for the afternoon, we had many enjoyable experiences, including having a delicious lunch with a live music performance by a local band, a tour of the Langa visitor center as well as a tour of the township. The tour of the visitor center included seeing the area where they have local artists come into the center to make their own ceramics, such as coffee mugs and small bowls There was a kiln to use, and we were able to watch a woman paint a coffee mug. Following this, we were taught how another man of the area uses sand and acrylic paint for canvas paintings to sell locally and at the visitor center. We were then shown how another man uses tools to make glass mosaics to sell as well. As a group, we were then taught an African song in which we played drums and sang along with leaders.

Following this time in the visitor center, we toured the township with a guide who had grown up in Langa. During this time, he informed us of many pieces of the culture of living in a township. The tour started with him discussing the “Lovers Boulevard” in which he discussed the fact that only men were allowed by law to come to the cities to work. This meant that they had to leave their families behind in the rural areas and had very restricted number of times in which they were allowed to be visited by their wives. At the few times at which the wives would be able to come visit, the meeting place for the men and women were along the Lovers Boulevard. However, during their time alone in the cities, the men would start to create a new family for themselves in the townships apart from the families in the rural areas. This was then discussed in class and depicted in the readings of men empowerment, such that there was a vast double standard between the rights of men and women in relationships. In the “Violence, Rape, and Sexual Coercion: Everyday Love in a South African Township” by Katherine Wood and Rachel Jewkes, it discusses that there are cases in which women are beaten when they even just talk to another man, yet it is common for men to have relationships with many different women.

Following this, we continued down the streets of Langa, and our guide discussed many other aspects of the culture, including the education that is common within the townships. His discussion began with the fact that once it was legally allowed for woman to live in townships, many mothers moved into the townships with their families in order to allow for their children to get a better education. In their culture, there is a high focus of education for many reasons, but he explicitly explained that many parents strive to give their children a great education because of their own past with school, such that it had been an education through the tribe, but without much global knowledge. Throughout the time in the townships and apartheid, there was an education system that continued to hinder the growth of the blacks, as it was only a Bantu education. With this Bantu education, the blacks of South Africa were taught not how to fix problems of the world around them, but rather how to maintain the equipment necessary for the jobs that they have been told to do by the whites. After the end of apartheid, the laws changed allowing for a difference in the education of black children, and that was meant to minimize the disparities between the education of the various races of South Africa. In our group’s previous discussions of the education system of South Africa, there is evidence of the disparities between the educational opportunities of the different races of South Africa, specifically of blacks in comparison to the whites of the country. Though legally there have been improvements to the education system for black South Africans, there remains a large educational gap.

As we walked through the Langa with our guide, it became evident that there is still a discrepancy in the education, as our primary research from the fall indicated. He discussed that there were much fewer schools in the townships but a higher student to teacher ratio. This combination leads to the overall hindrance of the black South African students who are trying to get an education that would allow for a better job for their future, to provide for themselves and their families. I found this information to be very interesting in the fact that there was a hope for a better future, but in reality the blacks of South Africa are still deficient in their education systems in comparison to the possibilities that are offered to white South Africans.

 

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