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.
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.