“So, what really defines a township?” I asked.
Ayanda answered first. “Technically, townships are everything outside of the CBD (Central Business District) of a city. In South Africa, though, townships are usually thought of as the areas where Black and Coloured were once forced, and now many continue to live.”
Buntu added, “For me, a township is really about the community. And usually a very tight community with very little privacy. Since the homes are so small and on top of each other, you can usually hear whatever your neighbours are talking about. Everyone knows what’s going on with everyone.”
Ayanda and Buntu are lifelong friends from Khayelitsha, South Africa’s largest and fastest growing township. Located on the edges of Cape Town, Khayletisha (Xhosa for “Our New Home”) was created by the Apartheid government in 1985 in order to group and control the growing Black population on the Cape. It has a reputation for being, for lack of a better descriptor, “a bad neighbourhood,” with most White South Africans never dreaming of using one of the Khayleitsha exits from the N2 freeway as they drive by and see the vast collection of makeshift shacks along its edges. And on this particular morning, I was jogging through the township with my new local friends, Ayanda and Buntu.
What Ayanda and Buntu are doing for the Khayelitsha community through their organization Sporting Code is nothing short of amazing. The pair created Sporting Code after both graduating from the prestigious Raymond Ackerman Academy for Entrepreneurial Development. Sporting Code creates opportunities for the youth in Khayelitsha to get involved in sports as an alternative to the many pitfalls facing kids in a place like Khayelitsha. They’ve developed after school coaching programs and sports competitions which are having a real impact on the community.
Their next big project is to raise funds to rehabilitate and build a new sports complex on the field next to one of Khayelitsha’s schools. This field, which Buntu used to play and compete on when he was younger, has fallen into a state of squalor since the only member of the faculty who “cared” about the positive impact that sports can have on children left the school several years ago. Buntu and Ayanda are determined to see the field changed from a place where kids go to smoke and do drugs to one where they can build self-esteem and stay healthy by competing in sports.
When Airbnb approached them two years ago to see if they had an interest in hosting an “Airbnb Experience” in Khayelitsha, their immediate response was, “What’s an Airbnb Experience?” Once they learned more, however, they saw that this could be an incredible opportunity to educate more people on the situation in Khayelitsha, as well as create awareness and raise additional funds for Sporting Code. So they began inviting guests to join them on their morning run around the township.
Ayanda and Buntu are the types of people who make you say, “Wow,” as soon as you catch your breath from the run. They have a clear vision for a better, stronger community, and a natural gift to open an outsiders eyes to an otherwise mostly hidden world in a matter of hours. Keep at it, guys, you are both an inspiration.
Sporting Code welcomes all kinds of support that can be offered as they pursue their mission for the community. If you would like to make a donation via Paypal, you can follow the link on the SportingCode / ABCD Concepts (parent organization) website.