Monday, April 4, 2011

Emzini Township Tour

Emzini Township Tour was one of the best parts of our entire trip.  It was run by Penny and Ella.  Ella lives in the township and leads the tour.  Penny is her friend from church who helps with all the administrative work and books the tours as well as accompanying Ella and helping her run the tours.

During apartheid, blacks were forced to move into townships on the edge of cities.  Apartheid is over but still many blacks live in poor conditions in the townships.  Ella explained to us that the government was building new houses for people in the townships so they wouldn't have to live in shacks.  The new houses were 2 bedrooms and looked pretty nice.  Ella also said that many families continue to live in their shacks and rent out their new government built homes for income.  As you can imagine, there's many problems in the township including high unemployment and alcohol abuse.  The government uses local workers from the township when constructing the new homes.

The township in Knysa actually looked "nice" compared to some of the shacks we saw near the Cape Town airport and on our way to Stellenbosch.

Ella and Penny began the tour by driving us around the township.  Many stores were closed as it was the Christmas/New Years holiday so we didn't get to go in like they normally do.  We also didn't get to visit a school because it was closed.

We did get to see the daycare that Ella runs for children after school as well as the soup kitchen and the women's shelter that was just built.  We also got to go to Ella's house where she told us her history and about the township.  She served us tea and a doughnut topped pastry.  Then she played the drums and sang a traditional Xhosa song.  Then we got to take a turn at the drums. 

Ella's building an addition to her house.  As a structural engineer, I was able to give construction advice about the best way to do things and what walls could be cut for new windows and doors and what had to stay!

We loved our tour so much that we have decided to donate money to continue Ella's mission to help the residents through the daycare, soup kitchen, and women's shelter.

Keep in mind that tourists should not visit townships without a registered guide.


kenpen said...

Very cool. I think I would really enjoy this. And nice you could use your engineering knowledge to help.

weezermonkey said...

I love that you gave construction advice!