Masakhane

Traditional Xhosa Culture in the Heart of a Fishing Village

The bustling area of Masakhane adjacent to Gansbaai's industrial area is a rural hotchpotch of wood and tin shanties scattered between modern brick homes on a beautiful fynbos and Milkwood-clad landscape. The name Masakhane is the Xhosa word for "stand together" and the neighbourhood has a strong cultural character reflecting the Nguni-Xhosa tribal backgrounds of its residents.

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Unlike the ancestors of the native Overberg communities who all had a strong affinity with the sea and fishing, the earlier Masakhane people did not have "sea-legs". Most of the residents stem from the former so-called "home lands" of Transkei and Ciskei in the Eastern Cape. Their forebears, mostly men, were temporarily employed by the local fishing factory on a 6 month contract basis. The old Masakhane township consisted of 6 hostels, each housing 60 temporary factory workers. Many of them never left and even today, most of the residents still originate from three tribes in the Eastern Cape: ThembuMpondo and Bom Vane. Each tribe has its own traditional leader (Induna) in the township who makes decisions on behalf of the head chief in the Eastern Cape. The Masakhane residents have extended families in their homelands and constantly rotate between their two "homes". 

The area has grown from a small informal settlement to a thriving and mixed community where many residents still practise their ancestral rites and rituals. Sangomas (witch doctors) play a big role in the daily lives of these locals. 

The beautiful Spy Hill with its Milkwood thickets and sweeping views across sea and mountains was the romantic "courting venue" of the earlier inhabitants.

A preschool facility and an established primary school and several religious denominations form the heart of the diverse community. A roofed taxi rank also serves as the local business centre. The area is close to the new government high school Gansbaai Academia and the world-class Spaces for Sport community stadium where the youth are coached in a variety of sport disciplines.

Some residents earn an income by taking tourists on a guided walking tour through the settlement to experience "the spirit of Africa", its culture, and their homemade food and beer.