I just came back in Venice from an amazing trip with good friends and it clearly means great memories, but there’s something that I will always remember like something different and unique, however not less remarkable and it’s something that I want to face first on this blog. We decided to attend a city tour with several stops to learn as more as possible about Cape Town and actually it was the best decision because we had the chance to listen and learn a lot and get out the bus and explore different areas.
While going around we noticed that one of the stops was at Imizamo Yethu, a township like many others in Cape Town and around South Africa, and that the company was supporting the initiative and so that community through a tariff to pay to a local guide of the township. Once there we didn’t have the time to investigate where those money would have gone and how they would be used, we just hoped that they were truly useful to help that community. Our guide was Africa, a skinny and funny local tour guide that led us inside Imizamo Yethu explaining a bit about the situation showing us how his people was living.
Before to arrive in Cape Town I read that the population is about 3,5 million people, and I was not able to understand where all these people were, than driving around we realized that outside downtown the city is huge, and also other townships were huge. Once there it was clear that there were a lot of people living inside many metal sheet shacks.
I have never been a fan of taking pictures with poor people and neither to go in some places like going at the zoo to satisfy my curiosity, but I wanted to understand, being humble, how people can face that kind of life. I admit that I was not immediately comfortable with the situation, even if we were on guided tour with a local guide, but I think that it was mainly a personal thing. I immediately asked to Africa if it was possible to take some pictures and he said that it was perfectly ok, anyway I decided to take just a few. I was a bit tense because it was clear that we were completely extraneous to that context, likewise it was clear that some people were happy and curious to see us, some other not that much. Once inside I was definitely more relaxed, people were welcoming and kind, they proudly showed us their houses and they were happy to meet us. Anyway is was strange walking through this maze and look how babies and kids are force to grew up and Africa seemed first upset and then resigned to the situation and what he told us more frequently was “..you know..life goes on..”, and it’s exactly like this. After the WWII and with the Apartheid these people have been forced to live in this areas but here they always helped each other, they work, kids go to school and for all of them every morning life is a gift that they love to enjoy even if they don’t live in a “normal” place.
The guide brought us also in the bar of the township to drink some beers, there we felt definitely observed but immediately we realized that there was a great energy, people dancing, listening to music and watching football, happy to see us and curious about us. Then we didn’t drink because the card reader was broken (I felt immediately at home again) but we had fun in any case.
Sure, being on holidays means to have fun, not to think about your job for a while, being carefree and don’t care about pretty much anything but how to spend your time in a lazy way or deciding what to visit the next day, where to go to eat and what, and so on.. But going in a country like South Africa I felt that it was right not to ignore some situations. Walking in Cape Town is nice, the city is beautiful and its people are amazing, but comparing it to another big european city (even if it’s clearly european) you can feel that there’s a big difference, because poverty is huge and everywhere and it’s not right to ignore it. Exploring, talking with people you know that a big part of there 3,5 mln people are in townships, and they are there because of history, negative facts that condemned them to a life that they don’t deserve, because nobody deserves to live like that, but it’s important to go there, with the right attitude and respect (again, not to go there like you are going to see a show), to understand why. It’s important to go there because those situations on Facebook, Instagram or on Tv mean nothing, it’s too easy to feel ephemeral sympathy from a couch or a desk, and I’m not considering my self a better person because I was there. I just think that it’s important to go to understand how life is important and precious, how some people appreciate that gift everyday despite all the adversities, it’s important simply to understand how our daily complaints are useless, stupid and superficial.
So don’t be scared, if there, go to visit a township, bring your support and help to someone that really deserve it and learn from them how we could be luckier if we would appreciate more what we have everyday.
I just want to thank Africa for the opportunity and the amazing people that I met inside there because this one was definitely one of the highlights of my trip among all the natural beauties that this country offered me! Talk to you about in the next posts!