Children of Langa
After my sisi and I get home from school we like to go on walks around Langa. Lohli and Nwabisa sometimes tag along to keep us company and plays with the other kids we come across on the way. Lohli never wears shoes, instead he prefers to walk barefoot and doesn’t flinch while walking over broken glass. He doesn’t know much English, but what he does know he’s learned from American pop music. He often walks around singing “beat it, just beat it.”
A few days ago Liza surprised us while we were sitting on the porch playing crazy 8s. She was walking home with her bhuti, Sean, from buying electricity at the store nearby. We then walked with them to the other-side of town and played with some of the kids in the neighborhood. As we walked, groups of teenagers laughed while yelling to us “Umlungu! Umlungu! Molo!” Umlungu means white person. This has become a common phrase I’ve heard while walking around- everyone is surprised to hear that a white person is living in Langa, not just visiting on a commercialized tour bus.
My bhuti Lohli and sisi Zina
Lohli and Tandelie with Julia and I
Zina and I in the park in Rondebosch
Langa is a township of Cape Town and there are no white residents. Historically this was an area blacks were forced to live in, since the end of apartheid 16 years ago, the townships have remained homelands for many black families. So when teenagers see a white person in Langa, it’s a rare occasion.
On the home way Zina asked if I would buy her airtime for her phone, which cost 5 rand, or about 70 cents. I said okay under one condition: she’d have to give me 5 little braids, one per rand of airtime. Since then she’s given me a few more braids while helping me practice my Xhosa. Students in Langa learn Xhosa from birth, it is the mother-tongue of this province of Cape Town. In school they also learn English and from a very young age all of their instruction is in English. Everything from math to science and history is taught in English, while Xhosa can be heard on the streets and in the homes of Langa.
Zina and Lolo making GUAC!
One aspect of South African culture I was excited to discover was their love of avocados and tomatoes. I quickly realized that making guacamole, one of my favorite foods, would be in order. I went to the store and bought the goods: avos, tomato, onion, lemon, garlic and hot sauce. Zina, Lolo and I made the guac and it turned out great- they all loved it. We sat around this evening to watch Zuma, the South African President’s State of the Nation while eating our guac and chips. Afterwards, Mama asked what was in it so she could make it again. Definitely a success!
It was very interesting to listen to Zuma speak on topics such as renewable energy, education, health care, the job economy, and SA political allies in Africa. Zuma highlighted the three areas of concern for education reform: the need for teachers, textbooks and time. The education system post-apartheid is extremely crippled as they are still working to level the playing field for all South African children to have the opportunity to succeed. It was also interesting to see the members of government dressed in their traditional clothing- something quite different from the US State of the Union. Also, the representation of both men and women, young and old, was striking.
This weekend I went to Camp’s Bay, a white sandy beach sprawling along the coast with both locals and tourists. We relaxed in the sun, swam in the sea and had a few drinks to celebrate the weekend.
The views were incredible and it was really nice to relax and unwind with my friends. The following night we had a 21st birthday celebration for my friend Julia. Her family had a braai for us, the traditional South African version of barbeque. We hung out, feasted on chicken and sausage, and danced and sang. Miniemnandi Julia!
Olivia, Tina, Kate, Jolie and me
Zina, Nwabisa, Lohli and Lolo
I’ve come to notice that dinners in Langa are centered around the TV. We eat with our plates on our laps watching the soapies- Generations is our favorite. TV is relatively new technology in Langa and everyone is completely hooked to it. Lohli loves watching WWE and emulating the wrestling moves with his friends in the streets. Joe and Andrew like the documentaries about history and politics, and all my sisis love the soapies. Some nights Joe, my sisi and I sit around the living room listening to music. The door is always open at the Mazwai home, letting in the warm summer breeze and any children nearby. Joe produces music under the name Mazwai Records. The CD is deep house music, a very popular type of music in SA right now. He’s looking to expand the house music scene from Johannesburg to Cape Town.
As I’m writing this post, Zina just threw a new CD into the stereo, the first track was Ridin’ Solo, one of my favorite songs from this fall. It’s amazing to see the influence of American pop music has on the kids of SA. My sisis favorite artist are Beyonce, Rihiana and Kesha. While walking around with Zina and her friends they asked me, “Do you know Justin Bieber? Willow Smith? Miley Cirus?” They can’t get enough American music! Zina is jamming out in front of the mirror, dancing and singing along. Music is a great form of expression in Langa…. Everyone from my 4-year-old bhuti to my 70-year-old mama walks around humming a tune.
Lohli and Tandelie
Relaxing outside with mama, Lohli and Nwabisa
It’s Sunday afternoon and we just got home from church. Mama laid out a mat, pillows and blankets for us all to relax. We’ve been sitting here for hours just quietly chatting and closing our eyes to rest. I asked my sisis if they’d like to write something for my blog. I explained what a blog is and how it allows me to keep in touch with those at home. Zina wrote the following passage and I translated it for you all… Nwabisa’s is to follow. Sobonana Nonke!
Igamala ngu Zina. Ndihlala Esigcawu kwa 58 , ndihlala nomakholuwam notata no bhuti, no Samantha, no nwabisa no unathi no lolo. Ndifunda eMoshesh grede6a kwa Langa.
My name is Zina. I live on Sigcawu at number 58. I live with my grandmother, father, brother, Samantha, Nwabisa, Unthi and Lolo. I study at Moshesh in Grade 6A in Langa
Halla! My name is Nwabisa and I’m a very crazy kid that loves music, sport, scouts and tv. My friends and I ourselves B.L.U.T.O BABES. We love walking around the township, visiting other friends, watching movies and going to Grandwest for ice-skating. My family usually sits at home ad watch television all day.
What I like about my township is that most of my relatives live near by. I love playing a violin with friends at church.