A Portrait of a South African Township

Kids from the township of Gugulethu in Cape Town

Gugulethu, a township on the outskirts of Cape Town, is an apartheid-era invention, established in the early 1960s to absorb the overflow of migration to the city from other parts of the country. Now it contains almost 100,000 residents, almost all of them black. Justine van der Leun spent more than two years in Gugulethu, and she gives us a vivid portrait of daily life there, as well as a window into the politics and vulnerabilities of South Africa. Van der Leun is a Harper’s magazine contributor, and her article “A Portrait of a Township” is in the March issue.