Nyanga, Cape Flats

Nyanga, a sprawling, poverty-stricken illustration of Cape Town’s urban sprawl, is one of the oldest and largest black townships after Langa, establishing itself as early as 1955. It lies about 26 kilometres from the city centre, along the N2 close to the Cape Town International Airport and, like most of townships in the country, originated as a result of the migrant labour system - a spillover once Langa was filled to capacity.

Nyanga, meaning ‘moon’, has one of the oldest taxi ranks, which has undergone reconstruction to make it safer and more accessible, and is abuzz with energy and a true ‘township vibe’ that has visitors from all over the world taking tours through Langa, Nyanga, Khayelitsha and Gugulethu in an attempt to get a taste of township life.

Nyanga is still poor and is made up mostly of informal settlements where people live cheek-by-jowl in shacks made of zinc, cardboard and wood - this despite recent governmental development initiatives to provide more brick houses. Families here live below the breadline.

Despite this, Nyanga is where things are happening. Organisations like Abalimi Bezekhaya are promoting a culture of self-help by facilitating food growing and environmental action, and role models like Mama Maphosela, who takes in TB and Aids orphans, are working to deal with the stigma attached to HIV. Vibrant entrepreneurs have opened barber shops, hairdressing salons, tuck shops and informal traders and fruit sellers line the main streets.

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