Khayelitsha township

Yesterday I left the city centre to visit public libraries in outer Cape Town.

We drove into the Khayelitsha township on the south-eastern outskirts of the city, one of the newest and largest townships in Cape Town. The area has both formal housing (concrete-block 2-bedroom homes) and informal settlements (shanty towns). Townships were created during the apartheid era when culturally diverse areas of the city centre were declared white-only, and all non-white residents were moved (forcibly if necessary) into racially segregated settlements.

In post-apartheid South Africa, you can feel a palpable energy as people work to better their situation, but the scale of the task is very evident here. At one point, I took a few random snapshots through the bus window, figuring one or two images might be in focus and/or contain something interesting. Turns out pretty much everything in the townships is visually arresting or intriguing.

  
   
  
  
  

  His-and-hers barber shops in containers.

 School yard.

Harare Library, located in Khayelitsha, is Cape Town’s showcase local library, funded by corporate and philanthropic donations under the banner of a project called Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading. The library is situated in a new open square alongside live-and-work shophouses, a youth centre and other community facilities.

Harare Library serves three nearby primary schools, two high schools and a tertiary/vocaional education centre. A couple of groups of littlies were using the library, even though the library was closed to the public. The visiting librarians were a big distraction.