Western Cape DestinationsGugulethu, Cape Flats
The energetic community of Gugs, better known as Gugulethu, lies virtually on top of Cape Town’s International airport, about 20 kilometres outside of Cape Town - one of the oldest black townships in South Africa and arguably one of the fastest developing.
Gugulethu has been described as a combination of vibrant life, poverty, disease and violence and has its roots in the migrant labour system of the apartheid era, when the number of migrant workers from the Transkei became too great for the township of Langa to contain.
Originally called Nyanga West in 1958, people were allocated rooms in hostels designed in zones, where up to three men had to share a tiny room, and poverty and overcrowding were a characteristic, one that has changed very little since the end of apartheid. However, today Gugs is a combination of what remains of the former hostels, tin shacks, which many people built for themselves to create privacy, and brick and mortar houses, owned by the wealthier in Gugulethu. It also has running water and electricity.
There is a lively sense of community, even though people share toilets and facilities, and restaurants and Bed & Breakfasts are indicative of the strong influence of tourism. Gugs was the first to have an information technology centre, which provides top class training in multimedia and youth development. There are also sport fields, community centres and schools but the best way to experience Gugulethu is to go and see for yourself, on an arranged township tour.