From shanty to swanky in Cape Town

After saying goodbye to our truck we headed off to do a township tour.

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Arrived in dramatic Cape Town!

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Josh, Marika, Sascha, Jen, Carlos, Claudia, Anna, Megan, Mark, Ksenia and Roger just off the bus

Many migrants have moved to the city in search of work and this has resulted in sprawling shanty towns between highways, one of which we visited.

Cape Town appears to have quite a divided history – in the era of apartheid it was city policy to completely separate where whites, blacks and ‘coloureds’ (mix-race, indian, malay) could live, work and travel to. There’s even the ‘District 6’ museum which documents in detail the forced relocation of the occupants of a run-down area near the docks and the effect on the community.

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Relics of the not-too-distant past

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Old legal ‘race distinctions’

On our township tour we stopped at one shack and also dropped into the local bar. The sight of the men, most of whom had moved from elsewhere for work, sitting in near darkness and already completely drunk by midday, was grim.

More uplifting was a visit to Mzoli meats restaurant where the owner feeds back into community projects.

Central Cape Town seems like something of a bubble even today with the colonial era stately buildings around the Company Gardens. The British-built parliament still has a statue of Queen Victoria outside!

Visiting the Biscuit Mill on Saturday morning was quite an experience.

This is a gentrified area very similar to Shoreditch with artisanal coffee, brunch restaurants and design-driven small shops where the crowd is young, hipster and inescapably overwhelmingly white save for those working there.

Even in the 20 years since the end of Apartheid there seems much work left to do and speaking to locals the confidence in those in power to deliver on this alas isn’t high.

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