I had only heard of townships before I came to this part of the world, and was very interested to learn and see firsthand what they were about. Between 1960 and 1983 when apartheid was at its strongest, they were formed in order to keep non-whites living near the city center but still separate. During this time, 3.5 million people were displaced and forced to live in these communities. Now to this day they remain the poorer neighborhoods and crime is a big problem. I was lucky to make a friend who lived out in this area (thanks to the intro to Gideon by Erik Hoffman) who showed us around and introduced us to lots of people. His name is Gideon with the purple polo shirt, and he is hustling hard to become a graphic designer. The Katutura neighborhood was very lively and I left feeling like I was finally really in Africa.
I later visited Swakopmund, a small clean German town on the coast that looked like a more upscale Santa Cruz (California). The town center was quite boring and didn’t have much flavor, so I found my way to the townships of Mondesa and DRC to explore some more. It gave me the same feeling, vibrant people all happy for a chat and hangout. DRC stands for Democratic Resettlement Community, formed in 2001 meant to be temporary living for residents awaiting government subsidized housing, many people live there permanently in shacks built from reclaimed materials from landfill. As I’ve often seen in these types of communities, despite the struggle and difficulties the people face, they find a way to maintain a strong level of happiness and positivity among themselves.