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February 15, 2011

Sharing home brew in Langa – Flickr pic of the day


As part of Responsible Tourism Week, a global initiative from February 14 to 18, 2011, we’ll be highlighting images that show people taking responsibility for their communities and the places they live in and visit. You can get involved by logging on to the global journal of practical ecotourism, Planeta.com‘s wiki and registering.

This picture of tourists and tour guides sharing umqombothi, a traditional beer, was taken by our Cape Town. Live it. Love it. group member Julia aka Y Mucho Mas.

Julia says, “Our township tour had two guides, the primary one (seen in the background with his head down), who had grown up in a township but now lived elsewhere, and a local guide who lived in Langa, the township we visited. In this photo, our local guide is about to take the first sip of home brew.

“The bucket holds the umqombothi (home brew) served in this shebeen. It’s passed around until the bucket is empty. Umqombothi is very yeasty tasting and not high in alcohol. (The Q in that word represents a click noise that non-Xhosa speakers like me have a hard time replicating!)

“Shebeens are mostly run by women but the patrons are mostly men. Except, of course, when they’re foreign tourists of both genders!

“I highly recommend a township tour to anyone wanting to get the flavour of a different side of Cape Town life. We took this tour on a Sunday, so we also got to experience a church service (amazing music and very welcoming people!). Besides being enjoyable, the tour was very informative and interesting. For example, I had not realised how elaborate the apartheid system was, that there were separate townships for people of Southeast Asian descent and people of local Southern African descent. And since we visited an example of each, we also got to see the differences in living conditions and how they had been artificially kept apart by having a giant highway run between.

“I had some qualms beforehand about whether people would feel insulted by having tourists gawk, but in fact the tour was done very respectfully. A local resident was hired as an inside guide and he only took us to places that had agreed to have us. We patronised several local businesses, and had time to shop at a little market that artists and craftspeople in the community ran to take advantage of tourists’ presence. We got our best souvenir shopping done there – it’s amazing the beautiful things that local artisans create out of old soda bottles, banana fibre and other ingeniously recycled materials. And locals had the opportunity to gawk at us as well, and ask where we were from and why we came and the like. There were a few unfriendly people, of course, but no more than in any other place.”

Image © Julia aka Y Mucho Mas

As part of Responsible Tourism Week, we’re calling on Capetonians to submit their photographs of ordinary people doing extraordinary things – in the name of creating better places for people to live in, and better places to visit – to our Cape Town. Live it. Love it. Flickr group! Responsible Tourism Week is from February 14 to 18 this year, and you can get involved by logging on to the global journal of practical ecotourism, Planeta.com‘s wiki and registering.

Information on Cape Town’s journey to becoming a responsible destination can be found at www.responsiblecapetown.co.za. The Mother City won the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award in the best destination category in 2009.

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