Activities / Eastern Cape

Port Elizabeth Township Tour – Tales From the Township

Updated Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Lyn and Peter Haller own a tour company in Port Elizabeth called Umzantsi Afrika. As such, they offer a number of fantastic tours that expose the art, culture, history and heritage of Nelson Mandela Bay. The Port Elizabeth Township Tour is a very special experience; both for those that lived through the Apartheid era and for those that did not.

Lyn Haller is a registered tour guide, qualified through THETA (ex-SATOUR). Her passion for the historical homes and buildings of Port Elizabeth makes her keen knowledge of the area and its exciting beginnings even more engaging. Peter Haller is fluent in German, English and Austrian and is also a THETA-qualified tour guide. He is particularly interested in culture, nature and fossils, or geology.

The PE Township Tour takes visitors through the oldest South African township, New Brighton. As such, it was the home of many political outrages, and the senseless killing of plenty of people, both black and white. The tour takes three hours to complete, which whizz by as visitors are caught up in the vibe and culture of the area.

Red Location Museum
Photograph: Red Location Museum photo © MOMA

Upon entering the township, it is clear that, decades ago, the folk that lived here were accustomed to fighting for their lives and freedom. The wide entry street was intentionally made the only point of access by the local municipality so that these people could be confined. This led to necklacings (placing a burning tire around the neck of the victim), stoning and other human atrocities, enacted by just about everyone involved.

The Red Location Museum, situated in the heart of New Brighton, is a poignant reminder of what the non-white South Africans underwent during the Apartheid regime. The entire museum is modern in its design, which implements materials commonly used in the informal settlements; such as rusted corrugated iron, concrete, wood and wire.

Enormous black-and-white prints of famous anti-Apartheid activists loom over the visitors, while massive columns encased in the notorious red-coloured corrugated iron symbolise the memory boxes of old; and each contain a unique, touching exhibition.

Red Location Museum
Photograph: Red Location Museum photo © MOMA

Refreshments at a New Brighton tavern make for a quick snap back to reality after the museum, and allow visitors to meet the locals and sample some of the traditional Xhosa beer, Umqombothi, while enjoying a relaxed vibe. This is a thick, slightly sour beer that many love, but is an acquired taste for others.

Our particular tour included a visit to local potter and artist, Ayanda. As an ex-potter, I was particularly excited by this feature, and loved having a look around her small shop-cum-exhibition behind her beautifully decorated house. Unique items are on sale and make for a great memento from the Township Tour.

Destination Info

If you’d like to visit the wonderful city of Port Elizabeth, you’ll need a place to stay for the night – find plenty of hotels in Port Elizabeth on SA-Venues.com.

Other tours offered by Umzantsi Afrika include (but are not limited to): historical history tours, luxury safaris and transfers all over South Africa, art tours, stargazing tours, budget student trips to Botswana, and a fascinating Karoo fossil safari.

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