Khayelitsha, Cape Flats

More than half of Cape Town’s unemployed live in the notoriously high crime area of Khayelitsha, a township just outside Cape Town that means ‘new home’.

Created during apartheid as a dormitory area for migratory workers, today it is the biggest and youngest black township on the Cape Flats.

But Khayelitsha is not the bleak line of shacks it presents along the N2 Highway. Many of the township’s residents live in formal houses - a combination of the 1980s ‘matchbox houses’ and the more recent low-cost RDP homes, and the business district is fast being developed with an open-air high street mall opening for business recently. The film uCarmen eKhayelitsha placed the township on the world map and scooped the Golden Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2005. The film combined the opera Carmen with the country’s African choral tradition, setting it locally in the township, giving it a totally new slant that stunned audiences throughout the world.

And a recent low-cost housing project in Kuyasa, Khayelitsha gained the township further world recognition at the Montreal climate change conference last year, for its potential to reduce greenhouse gases and earn carbon credits.

Khayelitsha was also the first township on the Cape Flats to set up its own community radio station - Zibonele Community Radio. The station developed as part of a health initiative, and operated illegally, initially for only two hours a day, broadcasting from a shipping crate in Town Two. It has played a role in the Prevention-of-Mother-to-child-transmission and the government Access to Treatment programmes, and today is a self-sustaining legal broadcaster.

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