Langa, Cape Town

Images of Langa Township after the end of apartheid cruel era.


Langa township apartheid black

“ Two white men fighting one another
They’re fighting for a black man
The other one says the black man must be free
The other one says the black man must be in handcuffs
Who’s gonna win now? ’cause they both have power”
Brenda Fassie ( Langa 1964 –Guateng 2004)


The term “township” in South Africa does not describe a suburb. A township was a cruel place. Crueler even than a slum.

A township under South African apartheid was an underdeveloped area on the outskirts of towns, where white South Africans sent the blacks who worked for them to live.

Langa is one of the oldest townships of Cape Town. It was built during the colonial era to evict the black population from the central and “whites only” neighborhood of District Six, under the Law of Urban Areas 1923.

At its inception, black men were forced to live alone in Langa, separated from their wives and families, with the objective of keeping babies from being conceived, and thus to keep the black population in check.

During apartheid, a “passbook” policy was instituted in South Africa, requiring each inhabitant of a township to carry a document indicating where and when he worked in ​the city, in order to control his freedom of movement in Cape Town. After a maximum of 18 hours, a black man was required to return home to his township under penalty of 90 days in prison if he violated the policy. It was in Langa, in 1960, that the first movements of rebellion against the passbook policy began, and that ended sadly in the terrible Sharpeville massacre of that year.  Langa township apartheid black

When apartheid ended, women and children finally came to Langa, but this added to an already critical lack of space and substandard housing. However, in spite of its troubled beginnings, the sense of community was very strong in Langa, and so it was that over time some of those who remained were able to establish themselves and succeed economically. While such success is not universal in Langa, and strong economic contrasts exist today, it has improved the overall conditions in Langa and has permitted the community the luxury of opening its doors to curious outsiders who want a look at Langa’s way of life.

Cape Town, Southafrica , 2014 © Pablo Munini

Langa township apartheid black

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