Call for real change to celebrate Langa at 100

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis with councillor Angus Mackenzie and mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith at the Langa post office.

More than just a party is needed to usher in Langa’s centenary – Cape Town’s oldest black township needs to see real change and the promise of a better life for those who call the community home.

These were the sentiments of community leaders and others who met at Guga S’Thebe Cultural Centre on Human Rights Day to discuss plans to mark the founding of Langa in 1923.

Councillor Lwazi Pakade said the people of Langa would celebrate and rejoice with grateful hearts in their diversity, beauty and richness, but Langa should be developed.

“On this day, as we launch into this significant year for us, my heart is full of joy and gratitude, love and care for each one of us and for our area, but as we celebrate, we must make sure that we accelerate service delivery for the people of Langa.

“It cannot be right that townships like Khayelitsha are more developed than Langa. We want infrastructural development. We want to see a business hub for young people. We want to see more businesses investing in Langa,” he said to applause.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said the City’s anniversary plans included restorations to key attractions, precinct improvements, public consultation on new memorials and a series of events, including a three-day, open-air festival

“In September, we want to close King Langalibalele Street in front of the Guga S’Thebe Cultural Centre and host a street music festival where Langa can showcase its music and its people to the world.”

He spoke about singer-songwriter star Brenda Fassie; the Tsolekile cousins, cricketer and hockey player Thami and Olympic hockey player Lungile; footballer Thabo Mngomeni; and playwright and theatre director Fatts Dike and other Langa residents who had left their mark on politics, entertainment and sport over the past hundred years.

The City’s plans were intended to complement community initiatives to commemorate the anniversary, he said.

According to South African History Online, the creation of Langa, which was built in phases and officially opened in 1927, followed the passing of the Urban Areas Act in 1923, which forced Africans to live in segregated locations. Following the removal of black people from Ndabeni location, near Maitland, in the late 1920s, the authorities established Langa location about 5km away.

According to Wikipedia, it was to Langa that the population of Ndabeni – Cape Town’s first black township – were moved to before Ndabeni was dismantled as a township.

South African History Online notes that although the name Langa means “sun”, it is actually derived from the name of the Xhosa chief Langalibalele, who was imprisoned on Robben Island in 1873 for rebelling against the Natal government.

Langa residents met at the Guga S’Thebe Cultural Centre on Human Rights Day to discuss plans to mark the founding of Langa in 1923.
Poet and Langa resident Bulelwa Basse