This week on Metropolist: The future of townships

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Langa, named after chief Langalibalele, is the oldest formal township of Cape Town, established in 1927 under the 1923 Urban Areas Act. It lies between the N2 and the N7 national roads and behind the Athlone Power Station, now abandoned and soon to be developed (but into what has not yet been decided). The enforcement of the Group Areas Act of 1950 only further cemented Langa’s place as a segregated community for black African urban migrants. So by 1959, Langa become the only formal housing base for black Africans in Cape Town and was massively overcrowded and followed by uncontrollable squatting as a bitter result. In the advent of population overflow, colonial authorities imposed measures of control with the development of barracks to house migrants. It also led to a spill over into the formation of new townships to alleviate overcrowding and more significantly, the development of a rich cultural life i.e. a vibrant jazz and artistic community, along with social and sporting societies. Slowly but surely a number of facilities sprang up to accommodate these events as well as social initiatives in post-democratic South Africa such as the Gugu S’Thebe Cultural Centre and the infamous N2 Gateway Project.

The Langa Quarter is a more prominent initiative offering a sustainable solution to improving the livelihoods of Langa residents. Guided by Tony Elvin, the project aims to facilitate job creation by enabling Langa to be one of the leading township tourist destinations via a step-by-step process. By tapping into tourism incentives through economic development, there is the potential to foster connectivity and inclusion with communities in and outside of Langa. The foundation for this is suggested to be in place with much public investment into improving transportation infrastructure which has been evident with the improvement and upgrade of the Langa train station.

What is the future of Langa and other townships, and how can we re-imagine the future of many townships as places of economic growth and investment? This week we interview Tony Elvin of Langa Quarter and Vuyisa Qabaka, an entrepreneur and thought leader on township issues.



Missed last weeks show?
EPISODE 4: After 2013


With 2013 behind us we take a look at the major events of the past year. Have they been dealt with and how will they affect the year to come? … In the second half of the show we look forward into 2014 and what the year ahead will hold for our people and cities.


EPISODE 5: A New City Centre


Cities are complex networks, of people, infrastructure, nature, ideas and so much more. So how important are nodes, centres and hubs in the grand scheme? For Cape Town, the Cape Town CBD is the obvious economic, tourism and business centre, but where do areas like Century City, Bellville, Claremont and Khayelitsha fit into the puzzle?

In a recent article we outlined 10 of the key ideas which make the case for Bellville Central area as one such node which includes its strategic location for freight, public transport, student housing, available land and more.

On Metropolist this week, we interview Shahid Solomon, the Executive Programme Director of the Greater Tygerberg Partnership and hear more about the efforts to make Bellville a viable and exciting second node for Cape Town, as well as plans for the regeneration of the Voortrekker Road corridor.


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