Housing in the Townships of South Africa

Today's lecture on the Culture of Houses reminded me of my visit to South Africa last year where I had the opportunity to walk through a Township on the outskirts of Graaff-Reinet.

The Townships were set aside for the non-white residents of the country from the late 19th century until the end of the apartheid. Although apartheid ended in 1994 there is still an obvious cultural difference between life within the Townships and life in the town itself.

Most townships are still lacking basic services such as sewerage and electricity and there is a distinct lack of unemployment which leads to a number of social issues.

One of the striking differences between the township and town is how much more life, personality and culture is present within the township. In the town every house is smart with a well watered, cropped lawn but in the township each house has its own identity.

In the 90s a government scheme built what came to be known as 'Mandela Houses' these small dwellings were of basic but solid construction, the houses completely lacked individuality but over time as they were adapted and painted each became a unique representation of its occupants.