After our long journey to South Africa we have not only made it, we have arrived. One of the first communities and cultures we have encountered here is the township of Langa. This is my first real taste of the population we have come here to work with.
Langa sits just outside of Cape Town and is one of the oldest black townships in the area. During our cultural tour of Langa, we were able to observe many of the traditions and activities of a Langa local. The preparation of sheep’s head, life in the local speak easy, the making of beer, participating at the community center and the conditions in informal housing are just some of the examples of township life we were exposed to.
While it was an enlightening and insightful experience into the world of the people and community of this township, I struggled with the tourism aspect we took part in. As we walked from location to location it felt as though we silently observed these people and their home without authentic interaction. While I felt everyone was very respectful of the community and their space, I felt a disconnect inhabiting these people’s home.
After some time to process and reflect on our experience there, I see now how much pride the members of this township feel for their community. Despite my inclinations to look in, they were happy and humbled to offer us a glimpse into their lives. Ultimately I am realizing that discomfort can occur when we learn or see something new but beginning to recognize the value and importance these lessons enable in order to grow. I’m excited to see what lies ahead!