Cape Town — the townships

Cape Town — the townships

It’s almost hard to speak about this day. We started off in the opulence of the Cape Grace hotel. Then we traveled into the townships, into extreme poverty, sitting in the shadows of Capetown’s European elegance.

It’s poverty. If you’ve traveled at all, you’ve seen it. If you live in California, you only need to travel to Northern Mexico to see the shacks with the tin roofs.

It’s the contrast that makes it so striking in Capetown. Apartheid is gone, but there is still a clear line that you drive across, from the haves to the have nots. And the scale. The township we visited, which is near the airport, has more than a million people.

There is the positive. Around you in Capetown you see signs of upward mobility. There is a professional class of blacks, compared to the old thinking that blacks should only be educated to the level necessary to fulfill menial positions. The woman who sold me the hand made ceramics in the market was a black woman — something you don’t think twice about in LA, but in South Africa you realize that just over a decade ago it couldn’t have happened. The door is creaking open. Thankfully.

But the thing that has stayed with me most is the pride. The women in particular are beautiful, and dressed well. African women can wear colors with a flair that puts American woman to shame. The children are also clean, friendly, well dressed, and they have pride. As has happened before when I travel into areas like this, you expect that something is going to be depressing, and it’s just the opposite. I came away with a sense of real optimism. There are good people here, doing good work, to take care of their own, and build a better future for their children. The human spirit.

I am excited about the possibility of connecting some of these projects to Desmond Tutu’s PSA for our human rights campaign, so our users can contribute directly to them. And maybe even putting together a “philanthropic tour” in South Africa with his team, highlighting some of the good work going on over there.

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