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CAPE TOWN: Our insider’s guide to Langa

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Birth place of some of the country's greatest music and sporting legends, where shabby structures and unpaved streets have been rejuvenated, this suburb steeped in rich history holds a favourable lifestyle

Fewer than 20km from the hustle and bustle of Cape Town’s city centre lies the historically rich suburb of Langa, the oldest township in Cape Town, built for black South Africans who in 1927 lived in Ndabeni, close to Maitland.

Its name directly translates from Xhosa to English as “sun”. This settlement is named after the Xhosa chief Langalibalele, imprisoned on Robben Island in 1873 for rebelling against the Natal government.

Langa was built in phases. Former structures were shabby, roads were unpaved, the area was without electricity. Now home to fourth generation residents it has since boomed, with a strong Christian-following, six primary schools, four high schools and a finishing school, major tourist attractions and a healthy sporting culture, among others.

Fernando Antonio, founder of ZAkasi Property, says Langa is becoming one of the fastest-growing property markets because of its affordability, proximity to the city, good infrastructure and growing property developments.

He says the minimum property range is R300 000 and upwards, for which you could get a two- or three-bedroom house, previously RDP, renovated or extended. This suburb is also known to produce some of the country’s finest performers, be it in music, theatre or sport.

Can anyone forget the crowd-stirring pop star Brenda Fassie? What about others born and bred in Langa? The late jazz sensation Victor Ntoni, and saxophonist Winston Mankunku Ngozi, to name a few world-renowned performers.

Hlubi Mboya, who has made a name for herself as an actress, also comes from this melting pot of culture. With a rich sporting following, more than a handful of sportsmen and women from this community have donned the green and gold of various sporting codes.

Synonymous with soccer, Thabo Mngomeni, springs to mind; cricketers Thami Tsolekile and Lonwabo Tsotsobe; and rugby sensation Tshotsho Mbovane are among those who have written their names in national teams, painting a bright and promising future for rising stars from this and similar communities.

While Table Mountain forms a picturesque background, unemployment still plagues Langa’s youth. But, tourism and rental by separate entrances remains on the rise.

The annual Cape Town Jazz Festival held at the Cape Town Convention Centre is among major cash injection boosters for residents, but for some, commuting to the CBD, Claremont, Bellville and other suburbs as domestic workers or retail assistants remains the major source of income in many homes. 

Professionals have also made way into Langa. Upmarket homes, such as Settlers, along the N2 have since seen those in the teaching, nursing and other government institutions settle.

More and more young professionals and single mothers call Langa home. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

However, the construction of RDP flats to eradicate informal settlements has impacted on property prices. Now with the Backstage development near the railway line separating Langa from Pinelands on the list of mid-market property developments, more young professionals and single mothers call Langa home.

Although rentals are on the rise, finding a place to rent in this community remains a challenge.

Things to do, see and places of interest in Langa

King Langalibalele Drive is named after the Xhosa chief imprisoned on Robben Island in 1873.
Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

1 Visit

Landmark Guga S’Thebe Cultural Centre on King Langalibalele Drive for an artistic experience. It boasts a theatre space where locals perform. Enjoy freshly baked goods and good coffee, and find hand-made jewellery and clothing at affordable prices. 0216953493

2 Take a tour to the Langa Heritage (Dompas) Museum on the corner of King Langalibalele Drive and Lerotholi Avenue, where black people had to present identity cards at the pass office, and the attached court where they were tried over pass law infringements. Look at a great collection of photographs and documentaries of life during that era.

3 Tickle your tastebuds

Enjoy freshly-cooked South African meals and braaied meat from Nomzamo Butchery on Thabo Mbeki Street. The venue caters for the family and is alcohol-free.

I like this small suburb because it has easy access to transport and on weekends you don’t have to leave the area. I enjoy my chill place, Ekoneni, and also the Xhosa-inspired restaurant Jordan, among others. There is also the best braai/butchery/restaurant named Nomzamo. Vicky Manyebese, resident Picture: Supplied

4 Ikhaya Centre

Ikhaya Le Langa NPC (the house of sun) is a not-forprofit organisation boosting the Langa Quarter, an area of 13 streets with 500 homes and housing 7 000. Streets have been transformed and are full of delicious and interesting fare. Ndabeni Street, corner Rubuasna Street. 0216943717/tony@


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