Township Tours are another interesting, politicised trip where tourists get to visit one or more of the huge shanty towns (though some buildings are substantial) on the outskirts of Cape Town, chat to the locals and drink in a shebeen (illegal maize beer bar) under the protective wing of a township inhabitant.
A township trip is not ‘fun’, but educational and a guide is vital. Literally. On our trip several shanty kids mimed ‘shooting’ us. On the other hand the denizens of the ‘pub’ we visited didn’t mind sharing a bucket of ‘beer’ with us, especially since we paid for it.
Unemployment in these shanty towns runs to 90% but there seems to be a certain acceptance of their lot, with men in particular chatting, drinking and gaming their lives away.
Townships certainly look hideous and depressed, but on the positive side the South African government generally supplies water, electricity and housing free of charge.
There are newer concrete accommodation buildings around too, ugly but solid. We were told that frequently township residents are offered decent free apartments in the city centre provided they pay the service charges, but no takers.