Home-stay in Tambo Village (Part 2)Cape Town, Spring 2012
The next morning we walked through the township to the local church to attend Sunday service.
My little buddy Owethu held my hand and told me all about what she was doing in school as we walked through the streets of Tambo Village. Other children from the neighborhood waved to us as we made our way across town.
Townships here are very different from what I am used to back home. It is common for trash to line the streets and for people to live in informal settlements. However it is also common for people to reside in well kept, furnished houses within a fairly close vicinity. Mama Mpumie was very proud of her home.
Tambo Village was set up very similarly to the other townships we have seen, Langa and Gugulethu. Another similarity I noticed: people are very friendly. As we walked through the town, people waved and said “hello” to us as if we had known each other for a long time. I felt very welcome.
When the pastor at church asked where we were from, the congregation seemed excited to be hosting visitors from so far away. The service was interesting, and very different from what I am used to. There was a lot of music incorporated into their worship; and whereas I am used to an organ and choir, they had guitars and rock songs. The sermon was quite long as well, but it really helped me gain some insight into what values the community holds dear.
After the service, we went back to Mama Nox’s house to say our goodbyes. I was sure to give Mama Mpumie and Owethu big hugs; it was wonderful getting to know them, even though it was only for a short time. While we were waiting for everyone to say goodbye, we couldn’t help but play with the neighborhood children one last time. In fact, this little guy hopped into the van and tried to come home with us…
After leaving the township, we were taken to Mezoli’s. Mezoli’s is a staple of Cape Town and a must-see, especially on a Sunday. It is similar to an outdoor barbeque, except for the fact that it was in no way tame. It was essentially a huge party to celebrate the weekend and good food. What better Sunday can you ask for? It was a great atmosphere.
And speaking of the food, it was unlike anything I had ever seen. We were served a bucket (and I mean a big bucket) of braai, which is South African barbeque. This consisted of sausage, beef, chicken, and pork. It was also a requirement that you eat with your hands.
Between all twenty-four of us, we did a pretty good job. We managed to finish that entire bucket, which was a pretty messy task, but totally worth it.
The food was absolutely delicious. After we finished eating, we joined the party. We danced around and socialized for a bit. Mezoli’s was not the quiet Sunday lunch I had expected at all. Instead, it was a vibrant, loud celebration of the weekend. I’m really glad they decided to take us there. It was quite the experience.
When we finally arrived home, we hopped out of the van, wearily walked back to our flat, and promptly collapsed. We were all so exhausted after the full weekend we had. It was fun to hear people chatting about what they did with their families the night before.
Overall, the home-stay weekend was worthwhile. I definitely recommend it to anyone who may be considering studying abroad in Cape Town. It allows you to get a taste for how people live in the townships every day. As a student living close to campus with other students, it is sometimes easy to forget or feel removed from other parts of this city. The families are all so nice and welcoming. They are happy to have you and answer any questions you may have about their life in the township. I felt out of my comfort zone, but I would do it over again if given the chance.
Tips for the home-stay weekend:
- Ask your family questions and make the most of your time there (it goes by quickly). I had a really interesting conversation with Mama Mpumie about what her life was like under the apartheid state and I learned a lot. They have so many stories to share that will really open your eyes and enrich your experience.
- Bring your family a gift. Since they are hosting and feeding you for the night, it is nice to show them that you appreciate it. Some people brought items from home, while others made baked goods. It is up to you what you bring, but it is a nice way to show your gratitude.
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