South Africa’s Langa Township Deals with “Poverty Tourists” – The Jim Jefferies Show


Cape Town has lots of luxury. But in between your boat rides,
your frou-frou cocktails, and your mountaintop yoga, some visitors squeeze in
an authentic experience. And that’s where
Comedy Central sent me. Welcome to Langa Township. Alright. Alright so kitchen, bedroom – Ugh, sorry. Crikey. So why am I taking a
guided tour through one of the poorest
neighborhoods in South Africa? It started out like
a lot of things: Questionable ideas
by rich people. Reporter: In recent years,
a growing number of travel
agencies around the world are offering poverty tours. And as more tourists from
wealthy countries visit slums, the practice has sparked a
great deal of controversy. Jefferies: It’s true.
Well-off tourists pay about
$100 for a guided tour
of the poor part of town. – I’m expecting to see
extreme poverty, but I think
there’s beauty in everything. – I’m glad I don’t
have to live there. Unsurprisingly, not all the
locals are cool with it. – I think it’s degrading.
It’s kind of inhuman. – So you think they are
seeing you as animals? Yeah! Jefferies: So why do
people take these tours? Is it just the
social media likes? Does anyone actually benefit? To find out, I spoke with
Tony Elvin, who does social
enterprise development
here in Cape Town. People have called
them “poverty tours.” Human safari, poverty tours. Human safaris. Yeah. Part of the
problem is this world’s
relationship with Africa. Yeah. We get lots of people coming
over, but you’re a visitor and you’re coming to do
your “Africa Years” and
save some black people
with flies all over them. Red Nose Day. That’s always big. You always got a comedian
surrounded like this. I think township
tourism is othering. You’re sort of saying, “Oh, I
went in there and had a look. But f**kin’ hell, I’ll go
out with my life safe and
go to a white bit now.” Right, right, right. And have a margarita,
you know what I mean? Jefferies: Tony is part
of the debate about who
benefits from these tours. Does the money help the
towns or does it just go to
a select few tour operators? Do the locals profit out of it? Not just the people
running the tours, but the people who
are being looked at or
taken photographs of. They’ll bung them some money. Right. I mean, everyone’s getting paid. Right. But in terms of that having
a deep, lasting effect and changing the community and
improving the community, no. Jefferies: He
makes a good point. Breezing through and grabbing
a souvenir does seem like a
superficial way to see a place. But luckily, someone’s
trying to do it better. Meet Siviwe Mbinda. He runs a tour company
here in Langa, which is the
oldest township in Cape Town. He also founded a school,
a film program, and
a kids dance company. I sat down with him to
discuss sustainable tourism. Like they’re zoo
animals or something. What typically are
your clientele? Germans? Yes. Because they like seeing a
whole lot of people in confined
areas that they can control? Hey, so let’s take a tour. Jefferies: I wanted to take
Siviwe’s tour for myself. And boy, was he
full of information. About 50,000 people
live in Langa. But townships across
South Africa are home to
around 18 million people. They were created during
Apartheid as a way to
keep the black population
separate from the white. Kind of a dick move. But one interesting result
is that Langa has developed a
culture and economy on its own. For example, this
is a night club. The night club is closed at the
moment. It’s right inside here. I reckon this guy
runs something. This guy is a bouncer,
he’s an owner, he’s a DJ. He does everything. Does everything. The strip club’s much worse
where he’s the dancer. I’ll let him explain that. G’day, mate. Jim, how you doin’ man? Oh, we’re doing that one? I never know what to do. One, two, three, four,
I declare a thumb – Is it more of a bar or is
there dancing in there? Do you ever get white
people coming in trying
to drink at your bar or… Germans? Germans. Wow, this is going great. I feel like a guest,
not a tourist. I mean, look at all
the friends I’m making. Look at all those… Germans? with a different tour company
posing children for pictures. Wait a minute. Is that what I look like too? I don’t wanna look
like a German! Maybe doing tourism the right
way requires more effort. And in my travels, I’ve had
most of my best cultural
exchanges over a few frosties. So I made Siviwe take
me to the local pub. So the beer is actually
not served in glasses. Everyone drinks
from the same thing. But don’t you worry about if one
person has a cold, then we’re
all getting the f**king cold? The price you pay for sharing. I’m a pretty
hardcore germaphobe. But as Anthony
Bourdain taught us, it’s always worth risking
a cold to have a real
cultural experience. And I’d love to create
that cultural experience… for my friend Andrew. Andrew! – Yes? Come and have some beer,
mate, with everybody. I can’t because you know
I don’t drink alcohol. This is Andrew,
our field producer. Andrew? Here we are. Delicious! It’s a bit – uh, smoky. This guy, I feel like, is going
to drink the whole f**king lot. This is all three-gulp Sam. You see his f**king Adam’s
apple going up and down. He’s gonna have all this. See? A bucket of beer
means instant mates. Then I asked Siviwe, “what’s
a good eat around here?” That would be a sheep’s head. This is a sheep’s head. I’m Australian enough to
know that’s a sheep’s head. What’s with the
yellow paint on the – It’s to protect the
skin from the fire. Right, so if you’re a Simpson,
you wouldn’t find that racist? No, no, no. You cut them in half, Mhm. take out the brains, Right. And you boil it for two hours. They look like here. Now, I’m – I’m
also a vegetarian. Ummm… So Andrew, if you
wanna have some uh… sheep head. Andrew: I’m a
little nervous Jim. Yeah, that’s alright. That’s alright. Mmmm, lamb head. [gags] Jefferies: Ah, you didn’t
spice it properly, Andrew! You should watch this guy try to
eat pizza. It’s the same thing. So what did we learn? How can you be a responsible
tourist without looking
like some sort of German? Because this just doesn’t
happen in poor parts of Africa. People visit the Lower
Ninth Ward in New Orleans, stroll 8 Mile in Detroit, even take hood-life tours
through South Central, L.A.. Now, it’s OK to visit. But don’t gawk from
the back of a tour bus or snap selfies with
homeless people. Just find a legitimate tour
guide, be open to new things, and remember you’re
in a neighborhood. So act like you’d want someone
to act in your neighborhood. And just in case, bring an Andrew.

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