About Chisana Tours

My name is Bradley Naidoo and I am the founder of Chisana Tours. My upbringing has been met with some challenging encounters yet also redeeming experiences. I grew up in a household of five children where my mother raised us by herself. Naturally, the context in which I was raised was particularly difficult as there were so many children dependent on this single mother for sustenance. Athlone, the suburb I call home- at the time I was a young man- was a site for many underground dealings that perpetuated the livelihood of gangsterism in the community.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the situation in my household grew immensely difficult. I felt like I had to take some of the responsibility of my family’s wellbeing upon myself. I left school at an early age and was unable to pursue a tertiary education of any sort. This is when I then decided to work in the building industry as a middle-class labourer. The wages I received was way below the minimum; obviously this did not suit me at all. I fell into a system which operated by the philosophy that “you have to get rich or die trying”- this system was the illegal business of crime. It became a practice, a lifestyle, a way to generate money in the quickest way possible. It seemed a lot more feasible than working in the building industry where your salary does not amount to the hours you spent working.

The fascinating thing about gangsterism is that its members have no formal education or accolades, yet they manage to gain so much control over the community which they inhabit. This allure had me intrigued no less. The culture was prevalent and it became easy enough for me to be a part of the facilitation of illegal activity on the Cape Flats.

Gangsterism is so prevalent that, in fact, there are more than 50 gangs operating in the Western Cape region alone. They come in different forms, some of them are highly organized groups. The initiation process is gruesome and once you make a pact to be a gang member, the thought behind it is that you are bounded for life, the only way to escape is through losing your life for the brotherhood, as the saying goes: blood in, blood out. Because of my experience of gang culture and after rearranging my life, I decided to start a new venture called Chisana.

This word is exchanged in the code language of the gangster community but finds its origin in the Xhosa culture. It means “where there is a collision of two or more objects/things coming together”. I feel that together with my knowledge and experience of being intimately immersed into the culture of violence, and with the change that I now see in my hometown where there has been a considerable decrease in illegal activity; I can provide an understanding of the complexity of how things operate even how they collide and form a unified whole. Cape Town reminds me of just that as its people are from diverse cultural and ethnic groups. My hope is that Chisana Tours will serve as a gateway for tourists to experience and gain insight into the make-up of Cape Town as a city, how it has evolved and what it stands for. By journeying with me across the communities of Cape Town, people will be educated and enriched by stories which impacted the area and furthermore shaped it. I aim to use this platform to bring about restoration and change especially to those affected by gang violence and various other social ills. Ultimately, I want Chisana to be a symbol of how transformation is possible even in cases where hope seems scarce, which I believe reflects the story of my personal journey.

With the advent of the Apartheid Regime, South Africa became a racially segregated country. Its citizens were classified according to the groups: white, black, coloured and Indian. During the years 1960 to 1983, 3.5 million “non-white” South Africans were forcibly removed from their homes and moved to areas reserved solely for them. The year 1970 saw the abolition of political representation in South Africa. This, in turn, resulted in black citizens being deprived of their citizenship and thus they became legal inhabitants of tribal, self-governing homelands.

The Cape Flats was also a large escarpment reserved for “non-white” citizens to separate them from the more affluent areas of white South Africans. The Cape Flats is a true marker of the segregated nature of Apartheid South Africa and the economic and social imbalance of power. Under the Apartheid government, the demarcation did not only end at housing or living spaces but filtered through to the areas of medical care, education, beaches. Naturally, the areas outlined for non-whites were of an inferior standard in relation to those reserved for “whites only”.

Chisana Tours was established from a community negatively affected by the Apartheid Regime. Its main objective is to educate and enlighten its tourists concerning not only the inconsistencies within the area but also the glory of Cape Town, providing the traveller with more than just a scenic experience.

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