South Africa's Townships

In 1950, the National Party government passed the Group Areas Act. Under this law, it was legal to keep racial groups completely separate. Many white families stayed in their homes, but the government forced the black and coloured people out of the center of the cities and into townships.

These townships were usually located on the outskirts of towns and cities.

From the start, homes in townships were poorly built. Some people didn’t have running water or electricity. Many thousands of people lived in these townships. Alex is one example of these crowded black communities.

In Alex, I see many tiny one-room shacks made of large sheets of tin. Rocks and bricks sat atop the tin roofs. Someone tells me this keeps roofs from blowing away during storms. I know that slums exist, but this was the first time I have met people who live in these conditions.

Even though the townships are improving, it is taking a long time to fix the damage done by Apartheid.

I often hear about poverty in the news, but I forget how much we all have in common. Around the world people want homes, jobs, an education, food, and hope for a better future. Everyone I meet welcomes me with a smile. It reminds me that we are all the same.