On a mission to clarify misconceptions and to become an entrepreneur
Always joking, friendly with everyone and probably one of the most colourfully dressed people I have met in South Africa so far – may I introduce you to Cojea. Cojea, whose actual name is Kholekile, is a 23 year old Xhosa (one of the ethnic groups in South Africa) man who was born and raised in Khayelitsha- a township 45 minutes away from Cape Town City Centre.
You have to feel the vibe of a township to understand
Township…? What is a township? Very basically, townships were created during Apartheid when citizens of colour (namely but not only Indian and Black people) were forcibly moved away from the white population. The areas they had to move to were underdeveloped and basics like running water and electricity were very rare, if they were even there at all. Next to almost every city in South Africa, a township can be found nearby. For those who have been in Brazil, you can sort of compare it with the Favelaz. In Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest township is Soweto (the abbreviation of: South Western Township). In Cape Town, Khayelitsha which means “New home” in Xhosa (one of the 11 official languages in South Africa) is the newest and biggest township in Cape Town with about 2 million inhabitants.
What is life in a township all about?
Cojea is interested in history and geography. He is an entertaining guy and and loves chatting to people from different nationalities. Cojea studied tourism and now 3 years later he is setting up his own tour company with two of his friends. Together they want to organise township as well as historic tours. Cojea knows that there are lots of misconceptions about townships and the daily life in a township. He feels it’s his mission to clarify that. He wants people to understand and experience the history of South Africa and he wants them to experience townships as they are an important part of it. Cojea is aware that life in Khayelitsha isn´t all roses and that there are lots of dangerous areas as well. On the other hand Cojea wants people to understand that his home is so much more than just crime. Khayelitsha is full of culture, art, fashion and music. It has his own infrastructure, fashion events and jam sessions. You can find so many township entrepreneurs coming up with innovative ideas and solutions and there are many of them on their way to set up their own business- much like Cojea.
Don´t judge – come and find out by your self
Together with friends I went on a township tour to Khayelitsha with Cojea (video below). What we liked most about the tour is the fact that we were walking through the street, able to communicate with the locals instead of driving around in a bus watching people from afar. Cojea took us to his home where we ate Umvubu – a traditional Xhosa dish made out of corn and sour milk. We chatted to his friends and neighbours and he took us to communal spots where young people from Khayelitsha spend their free time. What is a real township experience without a good party? That´s why we finished off our tour in a entertainment spot with yummy local street food and African house music where you couldn´t see tourists at all.
Fashion is his passion
Cojea isn´t only interested in tour guiding. He equally loves fashion. Before he studied tourism, he studied fashion design for a year. In his free time Cojea is engaged in many fashion projects in Khayelitsha. As a graduated designer he wants to support young people with the same passion. He helped to build up a container where young designers can come together for exchanging ideas and designs. Cojea has also started a design project called: “design entourage”. Basically what happens is that designers, musicians, poets and artists come together and showcase their talents to tourists and local people. He is going to register this project as a non-governmental and non-profit one later this year.
Cojea has dreams
Cojea started studying German and is planning to give tours in German soon. As he loves doing sports, he is a great fan of German soccer too. His dream is to visit Germany one day and to see Bavaria Munich and Borussia Dortmund playing soccer. I am proud of this ambitious guy, full of dreams and power. He is on the right path to make something great out of his life.
You are interested in going on a tour with Cojea? Contact him on facebook:
Here you can watch the video of our Khayelitsha tour: