The Changing Face of South Africa's Townships


Townships were created during the apartheid period in South Africa. During this period there were underdeveloped living areas for Blacks and people of mixed race. Townships were built on the outskirts of big cities. However, the face of South African townships is changing, as more and more poor white people are moving too formerly black-only neighborhoods.

For many whites moving to predominantly black townships is, at first, a shocking experience.  In most cases whites fear the crime that runs higher in the Black areas of Johannesburg, Cape Town and other big cities.


Townships themselves are also changing. Soweto, for example, one of the South Africa’s biggest townships is expanding and developing rapidly. Today it is not only a residential area with simple brick houses and cheaply made huts. It offers skyscrapers, malls, restaurants, businesses, stadiums and parks. Soweto is one of Johannesburg’s main tourist destinations.

In the last ten years the government has been investing a lot of money into making South Africa’s former townships more livable. In addition, the government is providing more and more services, schools and clean water.


However, there still is rising hate among many Blacks at a government which has failed to change things and make life better for the majority of Blacks in South Africa, When the ANC came to power in 1994 they vowed to change everything  but some poor areas are still full of poverty and crime. In 2010 there were major riots across the country sparked by the 20th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.



Related Topics



  • ANC = African National Congress = ruling party in South Africa
  • anniversary = date on which something important happened many years ago
  • apartheid = political and social system in South Africa of the past; blacks and non-whites had to live in separate areas, go to separate schools, restaurants etc..
  • cheap = not expensive
  • crime = illegal activities in general
  • destination = place to go to
  • develop = grow
  • expand = to get bigger; grow
  • experience = something that happened
  • fail = not succeed
  • formerly = in the past
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • however = but
  • hut = simple building
  • in addition = also
  • livable = good to live in
  • majority = most of the people
  • mall = shopping centre
  • mixed race = person who has parents from two different races
  • outskirts = outer parts; suburbs
  • poverty = the situation of being poor
  • predominantly = mainly, mostly
  • rapidly = fast
  • release = to set free
  • residential area = neighborhood in which people live in houses and apartments
  • riot = rebellion; uprising
  • skyscraper = very tall building
  • spark = start
  • underdeveloped =  weak, poor
  • vow = promise