The township name Masiphumelele means “we will succeed” in Xosha (one of South Africa’s 11 official languages) and the residents are doing just that. From the corner barbershop to the ice cream store, the library to the township pub, Masi (as it’s known for short) is a bustling, welcoming community waiting to be explored.
I toured Masi with The Township Sisters, friends Ali and Mandy who have come together to help visitors to Cape Town experience a township tour through local eyes. They offer walking tours, guided by local people who have grown up in Masi and therefore give visitors a unique insight into the township – telling stories, introducing you to members of the community and leading you around as only a local can.
We met girl friends perfecting a Beyoncé dance routine in the community hall, teenagers catching up on homework in the internet cafe, a lady hand printing cotton tablecloths to be sold, children playing in the street… and all had a smile and a wave, a friendly greeting for the visitors to make us feel instantly at home in their community.
The Township Sisters’ tours are on foot, meaning that you’re right in the heart of the action – no soulless tour bus here, no peering out of a window and passing through without getting a true feel of the place. The comparison between here and the five star waterfront area of Cape Town couldn’t be more stark, but the friendliness and warmth in Masi shines through the comparable harshness of the living conditions. Taking a tour with The Township Sisters was a highlight of my time in Cape Town, and a unique experience.
Recommended for… Anyone who wants to experience a township tour in Cape Town, from a local perspective.
Be aware that… It’s a leisurely stroll so no particular level of fitness is necessary, but as the tours are on foot people with mobility issues may struggle.
- Touring on foot rather than in a vehicle makes the tours much more eco friendly
- The Township Sisters support community projects in Masi – such as the local crèche – by arranging sustainable donations such as blankets, furniture and uniforms.
- Tour guides are recruited from local people, providing jobs for members of the Masiphumelele community
For more information about The Township Sisters, visit their Facebook page here
About the author: Rachel Watson caught the travel bug during her gap year in 2002, and has no plans to stop exploring! She works in Customer Operations and blogs about her travel experiences in her spare time. Visit Rachel’s blog at http://dancing-like-no-ones-watching.blogspot.co.uk/ or follow her on Twitter @RacheyRoo183