Getting to Know Khayelitsha with Sporting Code


I clearly remember the first day I met Buntu Matole and Ayanda Cuba at the top of Lookout Hill in Khayelitsha. While I looked out over the hill at this immense township making up one of the poorest areas in Cape Town, I thought how challenging it must be to stay optimistic while growing up here.

But not for these two young men. I was immediately impressed by their sheer ambition and soon got the feeling that they were here to do some big things. They are the co-founders of Sporting Code, an initiative based in Khayelitsha that is harnessing the power of sports to uplift their community.

They believe that getting kids involved in organized sports can not only keep them fit and healthy, but also help them steer clear of the many negative influences around them.

Khayelitsha is an area that gets its fair share of criticism and if you asked the vast majority of white Capetonians, they would most likely tell you that it is a very dangerous place with very little reason to visit.

Working with Buntu and Ayanda has without a doubt changed my view about that. I’ve been coming to Khayelitsha to film promotional videos for Sporting Code, with a view to shedding light on the amazing work they are doing here.

I’ve been coming back here for about 6 months, either by myself or with my work colleague, and never once felt like I was in any serious danger. I didn’t feel unwelcome and received very few skew looks because of the fact that we were practically the only white people walking through the streets here.

To be honest, what I’ve experienced is more of a genuine friendliness and sense of community than what I am used to feeling in my own neighborhood. I am not saying this place is completely safe and is without its problems, but I believe the level of fear that many of us have towards it is very distorted.

I think a big issue is that many people will already have their minds made up about a place like Khayelitsha, without having ever actually visited it. I know from experience that the very best way to learn about a place, is to venture out and go experience it for yourself, instead of just listening to the opinions of others and taking that on as your own.

Spending time in Khayelitsha has prompted an almost ridiculous thought: the fact that I had travelled on my own through many very poor areas in 3rd world countries on the other side of the world, and always found it an invaluable experience, yet had been too scared to really venture out and visit somewhere similar in my own city.

Townships make up a massive part of both the people and culture of this country, and like them or not, they are not going anywhere anytime soon. I think it is a great pity that many South Africans have never actually visited a place like this, because I think there is much to be learned here and can honestly say I believe it is one of the more fascinating parts of this city.

By Josh John. Watch Josh’s videos here

June 24th, 2016|
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