Khayelitsha: Our Home
Welcome to Our Home
Khayelitsha means “our new home”, and in 1985, it was exactly that. You’ve probably heard of the Group Areas Act – it was a l aw put in place by the apartheid government, which allowed them to forcefully remove black people from the inner city, and move them to dusty, cramped settlements in outlying areas. Khayelitsha was the government’s last effort, and it was created to relieve the intense overcrowding in other townships. Back then, only 30,000 people lived here. Now, it’s home to almost a million people.
When the country gained freedom, the government started to build some modern houses with water and lights, and it continues to do so. But much of the population still lives in informal shacks.
Let’s begin our walk.You should be standing outside the Magistrates Court. If you’re facing it, turn left and start walking, sticking to the left pavement.
My name is Rachel, and I am originally from Harare in Zimbabwe. Khayelitsha is a notorious haven for vice, squalor and crime. When I first came here, in 2014, I was curious and very cautious, but soon I warmed up to the heart and verve of the people of Khayelitsha.
You see, to the bulk of Cape Town’s population Khayelitsha is just … home. It is home to people that have dreams, hopes and aspirations just like anyone living anywhere. I’ve always been amazed by the hard-working, dedicated mothers who live here. In many families, the mothers are both the primary breadwinners and the primary caregivers. Today, I’ll tell you a bit about the lives of these women.
Many of them are domestic workers. Every morning, from as early as 4:30, they begin their journeys to different parts of Cape Town to work in suburban houses. They leave home before the sun has reached the horizon, and arrive back long after it has set. They often have no choice but to leave their children to their own devices. Without the guidance of adults, the crime rate, prostitution, and pregnancy rates are rising among young people.
But these women work very hard to better their lives. Through their hard work they manage to educate, feed and clothe their children. Many have managed to improve the houses they were given by the government. There’s no greater sign of prosperity and success here than being able to send your children to more affluent schools in the suburbs.