The most frequent information I researched before I flew down to Cape Town
was that South Africa has the highest crime rate in the world, and typical for any city are the townships – suburban ghettos, most of them built at the time of apartheid, when the non-white population was moved from more lucrative downtown areas - and the consistent advice was to stay away from these places, because they are not safe for a white man to walk into. So it occurred to me it might be a quite photogenic place. Of course I'm not mad to walk into most dangerous part of the town alone, and of course everything including poverty today is a business, so I decided to compromise; I hired a local guy who brings people into the ghettos to observe their life. Sick? Maybe. But that is Africa and we all have our own priorities: he needs to survive somehow and I wanted to see with my very own eyes how most of the Kaapstad population actually lives.
So on one Friday morning I ended up in a car with the guy, and one Jewish and one German couple on the way to the oldest but not at all the biggest township in the Cape Town area. Langa was officially established in 1927, populated mostly by the Xhosa tribe. According to officials in 2001, the number of inhabitants is around 80,000 people even though locals claim there are 150,000 people currently living in Langa. People live in various types of households from informal houses – shacks, with no running water, or former hostels for Eastern Cape workers, now inhabited by three families per 6 square meters room, to newly built government houses which are not inhabited because nobody can afford the rent.
When you walk around, you can smell smileys in the air - cooked sheep heads, the local speciality. People are hanging out, it is public holiday, kids are messing around in the streets, and in every household someone is cooking something. Welcome to Langa.