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Mandela Day Graffiti Bicycle Tour

2 1Homestay students along with their RAs participated in a bike ride through the streets of Salt River, Woodstock & District 6. Rising gentrification of the neighbourhood in contrast with its current state was brought to their attention as well as the need to preserve culture within the urban space.

The first, and most significant stop, was Me'Kasi Cafe. This coffee shop is owned by Beth Uriel centre for young men from impoverished communities. This centre aims to provide the chance to pursue meaningful, independent lives through a supportive living environment, connections to educational opportunities, positive social alternatives and training in life skills. The Mandela Day Challenge aspect involved helping clean up and sort their garage and garden of the shelter as well as dialogue with young men who reside at the home.  

The bicycle ride continued through the streets of Woodstock to view Cape Town Street Art after a stop at the Old Biscuit Mill. Key pieces of graffiti and street art were viewed. Each piece has its own unique meaning that had been explained as students admired, appreciated and took photographs of the artworks. Students were advised that they could support the local artists by sharing photos of the art which could have a positive impact on the community by sharing their message.

The ride continued into the site of District 6, a historic site, where insight was shared on forced removals within South African history and how it compares to gentrification today. Here, students viewed one of the oldest pieces of street art in Cape Town, depicting the true unsung heroes of Apartheid’s end, as well as a famous piece created by one of South Africa’s most successful female artists. 

Great fun was had by all the students throughout the day, despite the challenges and discomfort. It has been shared that the students have a greater appreciation for the city and recognise the impact of gentrification on marginalised residents. Interaction with the young men from Beth Uriel as well as being of assistance have brought about a sense of humility and recognition that they may be of service, however, effective engagement would be required in order to assess the true needs of others.

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