Renowned flats receive a facelift

2019-12-19 06:01
One of the flats decorated with mosaic art.PHOTOS: UNATHI OBOSE

One of the flats decorated with mosaic art.PHOTOS: UNATHI OBOSE

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The iconic Langa hostels have had a facelift to appeal to the tourists visiting the area.

At least eight of the flats are decorated with mosaic art depicting some of the country’s anti-apartheid heroes, some of whom lived in the area.

The hostels were built for male migrant labourers during apartheid and they have become an eyesore over the years. Efforts are underway to revive the hostels and make them a tourism attraction, with the City of Cape Town spending millions of rands toward the upgrades.

The paintings are a latest in a series of upgrades and they tell stories about some of the area’s famous names.

Over the years, Langa has produced international sporting icons and musicians including former Bafana Bafana player Thabo Mngomeni, former Spingboks player Jongi Nokwe, current Proteas player Themba Bavuma, playwriter and theatre director Fatima Dike, music icon Brenda Fassie, jazz icon Sylvia Mdunyelwa and anti-apartheid activist Annie Silinga.

Resident Wandile Jubase (49) says the drawings have a strong message. “The drawings remind us about our background. Some of the people that are portrayed here are our former heroes who fought for this democracy. They sacrificed their lives for us to benefit today,” said Jubase.

He mentioned the Langa massacre as one of the big incidents in Langa.

“Philip Kgosana led a massive strike from Langa to Cape Town protesting against passbook in 1960. But you’ll never hear of it. Our government officials are selective when they’re telling history,” he stated.

Jubase praised the City of Cape Town for the initiative, saying it brings to life the area’s rich history.

Ward 50 councillor Samkelo John described the decorations as a tourist attraction.

“Langa is one of the tourist destinations with great untold stories. We believe that as the community of Langa, we need to narrate our stories instead of allowing other people tell it,” said John.

Mayoral committee member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien said the intention is to beautify neighbourhoods and tell local stories with particular focus on cultural expression. “It cost approximately R50 000 per large wall. This includes artist fees, transfer of skills to local artists, workshop on design ideas and the cost of materials,” said Badroodien.

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