During apartheid, Masakhane (the Xhosa word for “stand together”) was a small township that merely existed out of 6 blocks (euphemistically called “hostels”) each housing 60 people. They were all men and employed on a temporary basis by the local fishing factory, who owned the blocks. Each of them had permission to be in the area for 6 months, after which period they were replaced by new people, practically all of whom were from the former so-called “home lands” Transkei and Ciskei (in the Eastern Cape). Though small, Masakhane was a typical apartheid – era township since it was established as a dormitory area to house black labourers who came to town from rural areas and who could never make their permanent residence in such a place.
After the fall of apartheid and people were allowed free movement in South Africa, Masakhane started to develop into a community of its own. Masakhane now has expanded to a township of about 12’000 residents, mostly still originating from the Eastern Cape. Most of them come from one of three tribes: Thembu, Mpondo and Bomvane, all part of the Nguni-Xhosa people. Each tribe has its own traditional leader in the township (“Induna”) that takes decisions on behalf of the chief who resides in the Eastern Cape. The community of Masakhane is growing: the primary school in the township has 124 pupils and 3 full time teachers and several local soccer teams are fiercely competitive during their weekend matches on the field that more or less is the centre of the township.
Experienced guides will take you on a tour through Masakhane, the rural and peaceful township of Gansbaai, which you can conclude with a traditional Xhosa culinary experience under the ancient milkwood trees at the local restaurant.