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Kim’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 14 Jul 2007

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

MapWell, the rest of last week was busy. I went on an organised trip to the Townships on Friday afternoon via District 6. This was the area in Cape Town that in early 1950's, they declared must be cleared of its mixed ethnic population and was the start of the Townships as we know them today.

Complete streets were removed and all housing demolished, the alternative accomodation was outside town and mainly consisted of small units, many of them only consisting of a single downstairs room that housed a sink and cold water tap, outside toilet and then two rooms upstairs that each slept three people. These units were for single people only and resulted in many people sending their wives and families back to homelands ( just what the powers that be wanted). The family units were not much better and just had an additional room. They are now in the middle of a building programme to sort some of these dreadful conditions out but as for many things in Africa, there is always tomorrow. We then went onto the unoffical townships where people have built their own shacks using anything that is a hand, still with outside toilets. You stand there and feel this lump in your throat that in todays world people can live like this but as in England, look closer and you will see the plasma screen televisions, mobile phones etc, etc. I walked away from this trip with very mixed feelings, poor and terrible conditions but many of these people choose to stay in the townships long after they could have moved on for the companionship. Its a place to hide with its own poteen bars, shops and atmosphere and in many ways, I felt I was watching a show that they wanted me to see. And these townships are held up to be places to make you reflect but I have seen and smelt worse in both India and Thailand

The hardest thing that arises from this, is that the townships are so far out of town and public transport so dreadful, the day starts at 5.30 or earlier and that is hard on everyone.

Anyway, enough of my thoughts, the weather has cheered up a little and I am now down to only one jumper and a single pair of socks. Am going into town, so will let you know all about that tomorrow