Exploring Open Streets and Red Bull’s Social Innovation Festival in Langa, Cape Town

Yesterday a few friends and I headed to Langa, one of Cape Town’s well-known townships, to explore Open Streets and Red Bull’s Social Innovation Festival.

Washington Street was transformed into a cultural playground with a diverse range of activities. From street cricket, soccer games, photo exhibitions, art installations, piano playing on the pavement, various dancing groups, break dancers, graffiti artists, a solar-powered cinema to weaving skaters, roller bladders and cyclists; each step offered some fun entertainment.

After the recent turmoil we’ve experienced in South Africa with the #FeesMustFall protests and yet more disappointments from our leaders, for the first time in a long time I felt really positive and proudly South African again.

As we started walking down the open street, a group of young kids from the neighbourhood ran up to us and instantly smiled as they grabbed our hands and walked with us. As they held on to Julz’s dress and tagged along, I was blown away by how trusting they were and that they were completely content just walking in silence, hand in hand, after exchanging the basics in Xhosa. They loved my camera as you can see by their schmodel poses and wide smiles in the photos below. Cutie pies!

It was also great to check out Red Bull’s Amaphiko’s Gugu S’thebe community centre. From an empty shell container, the Amaphiko team has transformed the space into a colourful and inspiring creative hub that hosted the Amaphiko Academy over the last 10 days. Red Bull Amaphiko’s mission is to give wings to pioneers who are using their talents, creativity and energy to solve social problems and make a change.

Open Streets partnered with Red Bull Amaphiko to bring the first ever Social Innovation Festival to Langa on the 8th of November 2015. Using ‘Open Streets’ as a platform, the festival showcased the creations of talented South African visionaries mentored through the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy. These inspiring social entrepreneurs have produced inventive solutions to solve social problems within their local communities.

Open Streets’ manifesto believes that Cape Town’s streets could be much more than they are. By embracing the concept of Open Streets, all of us can create shared places that embody respect for all and help bridge the social and spatial divides of our city.

They believe that streets should:

  • Enable safer and more cohesive communities
  • Provide platforms for creative expression of local cultures and values
  • Be places for recreation and social interaction
  • Contribute to job creation and local economic activity
  • Provide choice in how we move around the city

Friends of Open Streets support these principles, and will lobby actively to change the way streets are used, perceived and experienced.

The Social Innovation Festival in Langa was a great Sunday outing and I urge everyone who is in Cape Town for the next Open Streets event to make the time to check it out. If your experience is anything like mine, you will leave with a smiling heart and a sun-kissed face.

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