Langa: South African Township

Categories: Tsotsi

Langa is a South African township that was founded in 1927, as a replacement for Ndabeni Location as the former location had no served the purpose it was meant for. Ndabeni had been the result of white prejudice against Africans that was evident in Cape Town at the turn of the twentieth-century (Musemwa, 1993). Langa was a planned township and drastically extraordinary to the disappointment that was Ndabeni. What arose was a structure permitting most extreme perceivability of inhabitants by the specialists and subsequently their control.

No guests or social affairs were permitted without authorization from the administrator, and the fermenting of sorghum brew (utshwala) was disallowed. This standard was greatly hated by occupants, who likewise dismissed the possibility of city lager lobbies since they didn't empower the network to avoid youngsters drinking in accordance with conventional culture. Be that as it may, there was a sharp ascent in unlawful preparing and after many police strikes all out disallowance was lifted in 1930. City lager corridors were worked in 1945.

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Black people who inhabited Cape Town, similar to all others, did not have a solitary character. Innate affiliations were solid. For instance, the Mfengu people group held festivals to stamp their 'freedom' from the Xhosa, and thus mixed disdain in the township. Simultaneously, the urban encounters of numerous blacks in Cape Town were re-forming their ancestral characters. The little rising petit bourgeoisie comprised of educators, representatives, court mediators, merchants, attendants and priests of religion. A portion of these lived in Ndabeni, however others worked and lived in the downtown area.

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The closeness of lodging in Langa was one factor in advancing a high level of neighbourliness, and the making of African organizations. Common rustic countries prodded the naming of games groups for example the Basutoland Happy Lads, the Transkeian Lions.

Inside Langa, youngsters wedded crosswise over ethnic gatherings instead of wed somebody from their provincial country. Places of worship were a significant piece of Langa life, especially for ladies. The Women's Christian Association (Umanyano wabafazi) of the Bantu Presbyterian Church had 90 individuals and given a significant part of the 'self-improvement' administrations to neighbours in this extremely poor network. The messages expressed through the congregation were regularly about having an ethical existence, yet in addition drew interfaces among religion and governmental issues by pointing out that there was no space for shading qualifications in the sacred texts. Instruction was profoundly esteemed in Langa. While elementary schools were set up in the zone, the experts at first would not give an auxiliary school as mentioned by Langa occupants. It was not until 1937 that authorization was given for optional classes after weight from a gathering of ministry and guardians who urged students to seek to progress toward becoming attendants, educators and priests. Sports were a significant piece of school life, and there was much network pride in Langa High School's rugby group.

Musemwa (1993) states that Langa, likewise, makes a fascinating territory of study in light of the fact that the governmental issues encompassing its advancement as a urban African isolated private township presents it not just as a field of social clash between the ruler and the ruled, yet additionally stands out as a veritable declaration of the African battle to turn into a basic piece of the city. Monica Wilson who wrote the book about Langa with Mafeje was concerned with two problems, namely, finding out how people from rural areas become urbanized and to find out what the core reason for the coherence of the different categories of people was. People were often put in categories according to class, education, age or the degree to which a person has become urbanized. The three categories that stood out are the migrants, the semi-urbanized and the urbanized.

The migrants were seen as being ignorant, uncivilised and as uneducated (amaqaba) (Wilson and Mafeje, 1963:15). They did not approve of the town values, instead they valued going back to home in the rural areas, sending money back to their wives and children. The semi-urbanized on the hand, had some background of education and their main objective is to become townsmen, they see the rural area as a place to retire when they are older men. They have not yet been assimilated into the town. Their wives often do not join them in town and instead visit them occasionally. Lastly, the urbanized people were further divided into two categories, 'decent people' who were educated and made up the middle class known as 'ooscuse me' and the 'tsotsi types', who are the toughs. Townswomen were considered 'more brilliant and progressively cleaned' and men more 'shrewdly dressed' than their partners in the nation.

The authors claim that men are driven to town by poverty so that they can earn a living to support their families (Wilson and Mafeje, 1963:3). I do not think this is always the case, people move to town for other reasons besides poverty. Take the semi-urbanised people for example, they move to town simply because they want to be assimilated into that township society and there is no mention of them moving to town in search of jobs so that they can take care of their families.

There is also a claim that Langa is much the same as other urban communities in other countries (Wilson and Mafeje, 1963). This is a very long stretch for Wilson because South Africa as a whole has very different dynamics when compared to other countries. A comparison is also made between Langa and Johannesburg, which is also not quite accurate because the two towns are completely different, first of all in terms of language, the dominating language in Langa is Xhosa in Johannesburg on the other hand. It is often Zulu. This means that the way that people from both of these towns are going to behave differently from one another and have certain systems for certain things.

Furthermore, Wilson and Mafeje (1963:137) posit that the social classification of people exists because of the differentiation between inferior and superior, this notion could be true, to a certain extent, however, when dealing with social structures it also important to note that people might have classifications because they want to belong and be associated with a certain group and not the other. For an example, the migrants associate themselves with abakhaya, who are the homeboys because they somewhat have the same values, they both value the country life and therefore keep going back whenever they can, they also support their families financially and are not completely assimilated into the town life.

The evidence about Langa residents is used in such a way that one could also see it as a guideline of how to become or get assimilated into the township, for example, I already know what some people are called in Langa, based on their age, how they dress, education status or how they talk or perceive the town life. I could easily note iibhari through these factors. Iibhari tend to be more on the urban side rather than the rural, they speak Xhosa that is mixed with Afrikaans and English and they dive in at any chance to speak English in public spaces like busses or in the street. Another thing about iibhari is that they are always angry and resentful of white domination; these young men also behave aggressively towards other people. Wilson and Mafeje present word-pictures of scenes and occasions by giving explicit details that fascinate the five senses, or appeal to the reader's creative mind. This description of people presents the background and the setting of the events. Its basic principle is to enable the reader to acknowledge, through the same number of sensuous details as conceivable, the way things (and individuals) are, in the scenes being depicted.

The way people dress seems to be important as well, an example is that of women in Langa, the wives of migrants can be spotted by the way they dress and walk, their respectful manners and articulation, and taste in food. They wear long skirts with dark shawls, they cover their heads with scarves or doeks and low-obeyed shoes and they walk erect and great, conveying any gear they have on their heads. Young women in Langa are frowned upon when they wear trousers; they are seen as breaking the rules. In almost every society or town, women are always the bearers of culture.

Wilson sounds condescending throughout the text; there is no evidence of her actually going to Langa for the fieldwork. According to Wilson (1963), in a city, the poor usually closest to the industrial facilities and the wealthy live more remote.Her knowledge is represented in the book; she is taking the credit for Mafeje's fieldwork in Langa. The book is of a scientific nature, in that; data is put out there or checking like statistics and so forth. There is also the use of names like D3, X, B. G and M2.

Mafeje on the other hand, does not appear anywhere in the book even though he was the one who did the fieldwork and was the insider, did in depth observations about the way people talked, the food they ate and so on.

Powdermaker (1964) thought that the book had a useful contribution to our understanding of the structure and role of contemporary urban collectivities in social change. Although this book contributed usefully to our knowledge, the depth and richness that would be expected of Wilson's work (Powdermaker, 1964). In addition to Powdermaker's review, Southall (1965) interprets the this book in this way, "despite the instability of the uncommitted migrant, the wild violence of the tsotsi and the sophisticated aspirations of the educated balked at every turn by race prejudice and repressive legislation, Africans in Cape Town have achieved a social life and culture of which this book potrays the vivid color and the systematic structure.

One thing to take away from these categories is that they are not fixed, but they mesh into one another, family members could be classified into differing categories. These categories can be trailed through schools, churches, the ramifications of kinship, traditional rites and clubs. Wilson and Mafeje (1963:38) " · D3, classified here as one of the 'decent people', but not uscuse-me, lives with an aunt who was classified in a budget survey as 'middle class', and M2 is umackazi though her husband is clearly uscuse-me.''

Updated: Mar 15, 2022
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Langa: South African Township. (2019, Nov 22). Retrieved from

Langa: South African Township essay
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