Chippas Place, a Kasi experience

2012-11-08 09:24

I recently went on a Drakenstein Media Tour and I must say it was quite an interesting trip. The first thing that caught my attention on the itinerary was the lunch we would be having at Chippas Place at the Mbekweni Township in the Western Cape – The Kasi Experience that serves up braai meat, drinks and supposedly a local cultural spectacle.

For most people this would probably be the most exciting item on the itinerary as it means a chance of having a township experience. As somebody who grew up in a township the visit to Chippas Place would be different this time around because I was visiting as a member of a tour not as a resident.

See, the thing is the difference was what I was most looking forward to.

As we arrived at Chippas place it was lunchtime on a Thursday, the last time I was there was on a Sunday afternoon. The atmosphere was so tranquil, compared to the big crowd that is usually there on weekend afternoons.  We were welcomed by the owner personally and he made sure we got our order in time and that we were happy.  The 30-minute wait I’m used to was suddenly 5-minutes. The building was pretty much all there was to see; with less than 20 people, there was no vibe.

This made me question whether tourists really get the ‘Kasi’ Experience?

Tours usually take place during the week and during working hours. The treatment is different, ordinary visitors hardly get to meet the owners of the kasi spots, never mind an official welcome. Pretty much figuring your way around is part of the experience. The best of which, for me, happens on weekends.

The hotspots are filled with people from different backgrounds, music, dancing and fashion. It’s the ultimate time to see the cultural interaction that takes place, not forgetting the township spirit. I pointed out my observation to the fellow media people on the tourwith me. They also felt they didn’t get enough of the ‘kasi’ experience: a big crowd and all that goes along with it - even waiting over 30minutes to get an order.   

So when to get the real ‘Kasi’ experience is up for debate as tour visits to the townships spots definitely miss the gist of what the experience is about in my opinion.

One would question why these tours take place on weekdays? Is it a matter of trying to have a relaxed or controlled environment? Well that defeats the purpose of having a kasi experience as the crowd is part and parcel of it. Someone pointed out the issue of safety, but safety precautions should be taken no matter where you are touring, the same caution should be applied with township tours.

Chippas Place is a happening township spot, that’s off the touristy, mainstream track and I’d say a must for your itinerary – but it’s up to you how much of Kasi experience you’d like to get out of it.

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