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Township tour with the sound of Gospel
A soulful, song-filled look at township life in Cape Town
Hello, my name is Samantha Mtinini, but you can also call me Zoliswa, which means ‘humble’ in isiXhosa. I’d love for you to join me – or my partner Khonaye or one of our other tour guides – on any Sunday of your choice at a vibrant gospel church service in my township (Langa, near Cape Town), where you can enjoy an uplifting, uniquely South African spiritual experience amidst a young and dynamic congregation.
A few years ago locals may not have been used to seeing tourists in the townships, but now it has become quite normal for white people to visit the lively neighbourhoods of the Mother City’s settlements to see the lifestyle and culture here.
But the Cape Town gospel township tour that Camissa, my company, organises is not just about seeing. It’s about feeling – feeling the warmth and welcoming nature of our people, particularly when we are at church singing gospel songs.
I enjoy showing my guests the place where the spirit and energy of the community can be experienced at its fullest, the place where the joy of being alive reaches a peak, the place where we celebrate each other and our faith.
That place is church. My church is the Langa Baptist Church, and every Sunday morning more than 350 people – everyone from the little babas (babies) to the wise gogos (old ladies) – congregate in fellowship and sing our South African songs of praise, like ‘Uyinkosi Yamakhosi’ (‘You are the Lord of Lords’).
After we have enjoyed the gospel songs and the praise and worship session, I take my guests to see where the residents of Langa live, and we visit both the old cramped hostels and the new better housing developments the government is now building. I introduce them to my friends and neighbours and we walk through the streets and share jokes and greetings with members of the community.
The majority of Langa dwellers are Christian, so you can imagine that Sundays in our township are special, lively days. Church is more than a ritual for us; it’s something we look forward to, something that gives us a sense of hope and support, something that renews us from the inside out.
From the moment we arrive at the church, where the congregation welcomes you with singing, dancing, the beating of drums and clapping of hands, to when we visit people in their shacks and houses afterwards, your eyes and ears will be opened to the true story of the spirit of the township.
My gospel township tour starts at around 8:30 or 9am, when you’ll be picked up from your base in the Cape Town CBD. After a stop at the historic site of District Six, where thousands of people were evicted during Apartheid, we go straight to Langa Baptist Church, enjoy between 30 and 45 minutes of the service before proceeding to a half-day township tour.
This tour includes walking through the suburb and passing many small businesses, like herbalists, traditional healers, meat markets, cell phone repair stores, barber shops and more. The tour ends with a visit to the Joe Slovo informal settlement and a drive through two nearby areas, Bonteheuwel and Gugulethu, that are very different to Langa and each other but equally dynamic and vibrant. All along the way, we experience the many sights, sounds and smells of Cape Town’s townships.
Note: Camissa’s gospel township tour runs every Sunday morning, providing there is a minimum of two people attending, and usually spans about four hours in total. Ask about discounts for CapeTownMagazine.com readers.
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