Cape Town’s Oldest Township Gets Adorned in Graffiti for a Good Cause (Video)
Established in 1927, Cape Town’s Langa township carries with it decades of history. Before the apartheid era (which began around 1948), Langa was a site specifically designed for Black Africans, much like the formally segregated neighborhoods commonly found throughout the United States post-slavery through the mid-20th century. As the oldest of its kind, Langa’s long history includes its being one of the most vocal areas of Cape Town in the fight against apartheid rule and has been the site of many deadly struggles over the course of its lifetime. Technically a suburb, the neighborhood bares little resemblance to its American counterparts; there are no picket fences, no freshly manicured lawns, and no two-car garages. Instead, much of the area’s residents use outdoor toilets and homes built haphazardly by those living in them. While helping the residents acquire things like indoor plumbing and sturdier homes is a huge undertaking involving sociopolitical means and government bureaucracy, a handful of street artists descended upon the township to do what they do best, all in hopes of bettering the lives of those who call Langa home.
As part of Red Bull’s Amaphiko initiative, artists including Falko One, Mundano, and Zola have transformed Langa into an open-air gallery, turning the drab and sometimes dilapidated surroundings into vibrant, message-driven murals and pieces of art. Amaphiko, according to its website, is “a collaborative platform for social entrepreneurs who want to change their corner of the world,” and in South Africa, the aim of the initiative is clear: to reverse the negative perception of poor communities and low community cooperation by converting homes into art galleries where the community works together. Langa is just the latest in the Maboneng Township Arts Experience project, which founder and local Siphiwe Ngwenya recognized as an opportunity to incorporate the works of local artists in addition to helping local children see art as a viable career option. Also at play is Falko One’s “Once Upon a Town” project, which the artist himself describes as a means to “change the locals’ perception of value.”
In Langa, these initiatives were supported through the efforts of Red Bull, which included a camera crew to document the township’s transformation. In the time-lapse video below, one can witness the township’s metamorphosis, which is mirrored by the vibrancy in residents’ eyes as they begin to view their homes in a new light never before available to them. Check it out.