Langa
Close to the ground.

GPS: S 33 56.637 E 018 31.609 pop. 250,000 | elevation 15 m/49 ft

Langa, meaning “the sun” in Xhosa, was named after the chief of the Hlubi tribe, Langalibale, who was imprisoned on Robben Island in 1875 for resisting the local government in Natal. Upon his release, he was confined to an area on the Cape Flats that later became known as “Langalibalele's Location.” Langa was created under the terms of the 1923 Urban Areas Act and developed as a “model” township; its layout and design emphasized strict surveillance and control of its tenants. The first residents of Langa were migrant male workers who were housed in single-sex dorms and lived in cramped and unsanitary conditions. These residences still stand today and some are being converted to family-style apartments. Langa is a popular destination for township tours and whether you arrive on your own or with a group, you are likely to see other visitors exploring the township.

Guga S'thebe Center

Guga S'thebe Center houses the Langa Tourism Office as well as a few tables of crafts and pottery made in the center's workshop. In the back of the center, you can observe the artisans at work. There is also a performance stage where children practice and play African marimba music. If you're interested, they are more than willing to play their instruments for you as others dance.


Love Life Center

Love Life Center is a community center that focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention, primarily though a variety of youth development programs. They offer debate, acting and dance classes, as well as several sports and a radio station studio. Visitors can come and work with the children in their arts and dance programs or play volleyball or basketball with them. The center is busiest weekdays from 3pm to 5pm and on weekends.


Old Migrant Hostels

Old Migrant Hostels are the male dormitories built in 1969 to house Langa's migrant workers. Some of the hostels have since been renovated into family apartments alongside newer housing projects. From Washington St, head south on Jungle Walk. One block past Rhodes St, take a right on the unnamed road. If you stop at the intersection near the souvenir and craft stalls, you can easily find someone to take you into their house and show you the cramped living conditions of the updated family apartments.


Informal Shebeens

Informal Shebeens are scattered throughout the township. A good authentic one to visit is in the south of town. Take Jungle Walk south until it becomes Nolwana Way. At the intersection, turn right. Continue heading east after the road turns to gravel, where you can park directly across from the line of concrete latrines. Just ask for the shebeen and someone will point the way to a shack where you can enjoy a whole bucket of traditional beer, Umqombothi, for R10.


Joe Slovo Settlements

Joe Slovo Settlements line the southern end of town along the N2 highway. Here, you can see evidence of a country in flux as the government tries to build low-cost housing to combat the informal settlements that have sprung up in Langa. The government plans to demolish all shacks and temporarily relocate residents while quality permanent housing is built in their place, but the plans are controversial and not all shack-dwelling residents have bought into the process.


Sobukwe Square

Sobukwe Square was, at the time of research, under construction for a memorial to commemorate the 1960 Langa March, where the PAC led more than 30,000 people in protest of police repression during anti-pass demonstrations.


Eziko Craft

Eziko Craft is operated in connection with Eziko Restaurant and sells art, crafts, jewelry, paintings and tablecloths, all made by local Langa residents.


Ma Neo's Guest House

Ma Neo's Guest House is the best accommodation in Langa, with four updated rooms with TV. Two rooms are located in the main house, which has a large living room and dining room. Two more rooms are located in a separate building in back.


Radebe's B&B

Radebe's B&B has been opening its doors to guests since 2005. There are three bedrooms in the house, which has a comfortable living room with a large flat screen TV. The host family lives in the house next door and can arrange anything from traditional home-cooked meals to a local guide to take you on a tour around the city.


Lelapa

Lelapa isn't a place to just pop in for a meal - you have to book in advance so that fresh food can be purchased and meals prepared. But planning ahead is worth it: Monica and her mother cook up a smorgasbord of delicious and primarily wheat-free dishes - typically a 20-dish buffet, with live music.


Eziko

Eziko serves traditional African meals of lamb or chicken with veggies, samp and pap, or a full buffet can be prepared for a large enough group. The building is partially constructed out of steel shipping containers and there is a crafts shop with locally made crafts and jewelry next door. The restaurant is supposed to be open all day during the week, but it is probably a good idea to call in advance to let them know you are coming to be sure they'll be open.


Tiger's Pub & Grill

Tiger's Pub & Grill is a classy establishment for the township area - a recently remodeled pub and grill where you can order cuts of sirloin, sausage, wings or pig's foot to be grilled while you wait. You can enjoy your meat and drinks inside or out. This is a popular place with both locals and visitors on the weekend, but especially so on Saturdays.


Lick's Tavern

Lick's Tavern is a local joint where there are always a few patrons at the picnic tables or shooting pool during the day, and a real crowd in the evening. The bar is behind a steel mesh security gate with a hole for exchanging cash and bottles. On the weekend, going with a local is recommended.