One of the largest townships in South Africa, and the fastest growing, Khayelitsha has developed a rich culture. Located on the outskirts of Cape Town, Khayelitsha is home to nearly 400,000 residents — the majority are Xhosas — in an area of approximately 39 square kilometers (15 square miles). That’s more than 25,000 people per square mile, living in one of South Africa’s newest townships. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Khayelitsha.
Sources: CapeTown.Travel, SAHistory.org.za, GuardianLV.com, BBC.com, CapeTown.at, Census 2011, Ground Up, BDLive.co.za, CapeTown.gov.za, Stbweb02.STB.sun.ac.za
Cape Town initially opposed the Group Areas Act, passed in 1950 under the apartheid government which assigned racial groups to different business and residential sections in urban areas. But Cape Town quickly became one of the most severely segregated areas in the country. It built its first group area in the city in 1957. Dr. Piet Koornhof, Minister of Co-operation and Development, announced plans to build Khayelitsha in 1983. Within its first two years, Khayelitsha became home to more than 30,000 people.
Khayelitsha was one of the apartheid regime’s final attempts to enforce the Group Areas Act, as well as to attempt to deal with the influx to Cape Town of migrants from the Eastern Cape and overcrowding in other townships in the city. The majority of Khayelitsha’s residents, both at its inception as well as present-day, are Xhosas.
While some were moved there peacefully, many of Khayelitsha’s first residents were moved there through violence as authorities sought to find “solutions” to deal with the black population. The move to populate the new area of Khayelitsha was opposed by the African National Congress, but was endorsed by the Witdoeke, a vigilante group led by Johnson Ngxobongwana that was actively supported by the apartheid government.
An influx-control system was put in place to prevent Xhosas from traveling from the Western Cape to the Transkei in the east, without permits, and vice versa. It wasn’t until the 1994 elections and the end of the apartheid regime that Khayelitsha’s residents were allowed to move freely between regions, and began moving around in search of work and education.
Just 7 percent of Khayelitsha’s population is above the age of 50, and more than 40 percent of its residents are below age 19. While this contributes to a vibrant and enthusiastic community, it also contributes to the high statistics of young adults living in poverty in South Africa – an estimated 65.1% of young people in the country live in households in the bottom two tiers of income quintiles, all earning less than R650 per month.
In 2006, the average earning of a household in Khayelitsha was R1,606 (less than $150 USd) a month. In 2011, however, studies show the average had risen to R1,750 ($163 USD), a marked increase, and demonstrating the trend of continually improving economic conditions.
Sources: CapeTown.gov.za, Stbweb02.STB.sun.ac.za
The new hospital has an emergency room, medical and surgical wards, and infrastructure for obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics, and nursing. This hospital adds to the pre-existing provincial government clinics — Khayelitsha, Michael Maphongwana and Nolungile community health clinics.
Khayelitsha’s Monwabisi beach, located on the coast of False Bay, is notorious for numerous drownings each year. A wall was initially built to create a calm cove for the area, but instead it resulted in dangerous currents. In the past five years, more than 50 people have drowned at Monwabisi.
Look Out Hill, one of the highest hills in the area, recently became home to a tourist facility consisting of a restaurant, gift shop, and information kiosk designed to draw more tourists to the area. The facility offers 360-degree views of the region encompassing False Bay, the Hottentots Holland Mountain range, Helderberg and Groot Drakenstein.
The Football for Hope center was built in Khayelitsha in 2009 before the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa in an attempt to spread enthusiasm for the tournament and football in general around the country. Grassroot Soccer operates out of this center and integrates soccer with HIV-prevention education, as well as life skills programs for youth in Khayelitsha.
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