Township Trip

in 2005, I took a township tour outside of Cape Town in South Africa. The local bar was a one-room hut without any windows. Inside, very low benches lined the walls. The bar is open from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and for 5 Rand, you could stay all day and drink. But you won’t fall far if you fall off the bench. I drank white beer from the communal steel pail.

The woman who made the beer told me it consisted of cornmeal and malt and took three days to ferment. (Though far from smiling, she seemed very pleased I had asked her about the beer. I noted the male patrons seemed surprised that someone was addressing the beer maker.) After she filled a steel gallon bucket, the white beer was passed around and each patron took a sip or a gulp. 

The white beer tasted malty and made my eyes burn. But maybe the beer went well with the barbecued sheep heads. Vendors selling sheep heads lined the streets; most tables fit about 20 sheep heads set in neat rows. They said, you scrape the fur off the head and grill it. 

I wish I had asked the woman stirring her pot about which marinade would be best for grilling a sheep’s head.

What is a “township” in South Africa?  

“In South Africa, the terms township and location usually refer to the often underdeveloped racially segregated urban areas that, from the late 19th century until the end of apartheid, were reserved for non-whites, namely Indians, Africans and Coloureds. Townships were usually built on the periphery of towns and cities.”—Wikipedia

Still segregated by race and economics, with little to show of the cultivated infrastructure of Cape Town, I found the township full of people making their world work as best they could. 

I recommend to you a YouTube with a poem by a Township resident, Nthateng Machaea.

TATTOO—Journeys on My Mind by Tina Marie L. Lamb is available at Amazon and BarnesandNoble and iBooks and Audible.

Buy it. Read it. (Or listen to it.) Let me know what you think. –TMLL

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