Durban’s oldest township, KwaMashu, was created during the apartheid era to accommodate the mass resettlement of Africans from the Indian township of Cato Manor in 1958. It is the largest of three townships in the area, and home to well over 175 000 people. It also has a robust arts scene.

Did you know?

The late Henry Cele (title role in the Shaka Zulu miniseries) came from Kwa Mashu


KwaMashu township is most notable for its lively and indigenous performance arts scene. Although the community has numerous socio-economic challenges – high incidence of violence, crime and high HIV infection rates – the township sprouts a lively performing arts scene including hip hop, pantsula dancing, contemporary dance, amateur drama, and Maskandi music, traditional music deeply rooted in Zulu culture.

It is precisely because of this raft of hardships – most prevalent in South African townships – that KwaMashu's residents fight adversity with their art.

By pouring their creative spirit into various art forms, the people of KwaMashu are helping to heal the wounds of apartheid and social injustice. Through their individual performances the young people of KwaMashu are raising the cultural profile of their township, aided significantly by the skills, resources and direction of the eKhaya Multi Arts Centre for Arts and Performance.

Highlights of a tour to the South Africa township of KwaMashu include a fascinating glimpse into the bustling neighbourhood life of residents and those of KwaMashu's sister townships, Ntuzuma and Inanda, which collectively house more than half a million residents.

While visiting the township, take advantage of the opportunity to consult with a sangoma (traditional herbalist), but be warned, you'll need a strong stomach for some of the more exotic tonics.

A pit stop at one of the local orphanages brings home a poignant point. Also be sure to visit to some of KwaMashu's finest shebeens (informal bars) where you can slake your thirst on umqombothi, traditional African home-brewed beer, and fill your tummy with shishanyama (meat cooked on an open fire).

Work off the kilos by bopping kwaito style – a rousing, energetic, contemporary African dance – that will leave you breathless, but glowing. A visit to KwaMashu township is a unique, emotional and sensory experience and one that's not easily forgotten.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Durban Tourism Office
Tel: +27 (0)31 322 4164

How to get here

Take a tour with one of a pick of registered tour guides, who normally live in the area and know it well. You will be collected from your hotel or guesthouse.

Tours to do

Either a day tour or a night tour can be arranged through a township tour operator.

Get around

Your tour guide will take care of you.

What will it cost

Not more than R450 per person.

Length of stay

A township tour lasts approximately 3-4 hours, but it can be tailor-made to your requirements.

What to pack

Walking shoes and casual clothes. Don’t wear too much jewellery and carry your camera in a shoulder bag. Also don’t carry large sums of money with you.

Where to stay

Hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs in nearby Durban are comfortable and close to the beach, so take your pick.

What to eat

Traditional township fare at a shebeen. If you're not so adventurous, Western cuisine is usually also on offer.

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