* About Us
Imizamo Yethu was established in the early 1990’s as an area where mainly black people were allowed by the authorities to build homes known as ‘shacks’ or temporary shelters. Many of the black residents of Hout Bay could not afford, and by law were not allowed, to buy property or homes in Hout Bay and had no choice but to look for vacant land on which their temporary homes were built. This was done in many cases without permission and lead to much unhappiness and aggravation with their white fellow residents. In 1989 the local government had to intervene and a piece of property was developed with basic services (roads, water and sewerage) on which black residents were allowed to build their temporary shelters and named it: Imizamo Yethu Estate (Imizamo Yethu is Xhosa for ‘our combined effort’)
Since its inception Imizamo Yethu has had a steady growth and it is estimated that approximately 40,000 people reside in Imizamo Yethu in the current year 2020. Many of the temporary shelters of the past are now being replaced by high quality, solid brick homes.
The residents of Imizamo Yethu comprise mainly of Xhosa speaking people originating from the Transkei in the Eastern Cape where many still have family members living. Transkei is also the birth place of the past president of South Africa, the legendary Mr. Nelson Mandela.
In the early years many residents of Imizamo Yethu were those without educational or skills training opportunities which resulted in much suffering and hardship. Many residents were desperate for help in this regard which was one of the HBCCA’s main motivators in providing a facility like Iziko Lobomi where some of these shortcomings could be addressed.
Although positive changes have taken place in South Africa since the first democratic elections in 1994 the influx of additional Xhosa, Angolan and other refugees have kept housing needs and unemployment at a critical level. The recent involvement of an Irish businessman, Niall Mellon resulted in more than three hundred brand new, high quality homes of brick being built in the last two years with promises of many more. This initiative showed the difference which can be made by getting involved and sharing of one’s talents and recourses to the benefit of less privileged people.
Imizamo Yethu has a unique ‘vibe’ and vibrancy which is especially noticeable by visitors from outside. A spirit of caring and friendliness (‘ubuntu’ as it is known in Xhosa) are experienced everywhere with children playing peacefully outside their homes and often in the streets. Traders selling their goods ensure that many essential items can be purchased within a stone’s throw distance from most homes. Many convenience shops (Spasas) are located in and around homes where residents can buy their bread, milk, basic groceries and of course, sweets and cold drinks for the ever hungry children. Imizamo Yethu is a haven for entrepreneurs who are willing to try just about anything out to do business and make a small profit.
Progress and development often also have it’s negative affects on a society and Imizamo Yethu’s residents are also not spared in this regard. Many homes have problems with alcohol and drug abuse, woman and child abuse and crime. A special combined church service was organised on Sunday 22 May 2005 to pray for these issues including the devastating effect that HIV/Aids and other diseases have on members of the community.
Imizamo Yethu is in an exiting transformation phase where it is rapidly moving away from its dreaded ‘informal settlement’ status to a fully fledged, proud suburb of Hout Bay. The future is a lot brighter for the residents of Imizamo Yethu who have struggled and work tirelessly for many years towards a place they could be proud of and enjoy living in. Much hard work is still lying ahead for them but a process has started which can not be reversed and hopefully one day the children of Imizamo Yethu will be able to look back with pride at what has been achieved by their parents and community leaders.
HOUT BAY CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION
Hout Bay, Cape Town