Masiphumelele resident Zizipho Silwana  joins the AWOL Tours Cultural Bicycle Tour to experience her community from a new perspective. This is her personal experience:

Like someone once said: “Sometimes in order to really know yourself you have to look at yourself through the eyes of someone else. “

Well, I planned to do just that when I tagged along with Zwai, the AWOL tour guide on the township tour on my own home turf. He was pleased that I joined on the tour and when I arrived at the BEN shop on the morning of the tour, Zwai had already met the guests at the Food Zone shopping Centre, which is a secure and easily located meeting point for guests.

township washing henrik hilker

After heavy rains the previous week we were fortunate to have a bit of sunshine and clear skies. We cycled leisurely through the narrow streets of Masiphumelele, with our two wonderful guests.  Zwai enthusiastically narrated the day to day activities of our small community.

township cycling zwai laughing

For me it was especially interesting to see someone like Zwai a resident of our township, portraying this community in a positive light. Sometimes you see a lot of negative things such as crime, unemployment, poverty and inefficient service delivery that you forget about all the positive things happening around you everyday.

township ablutions henrik hilker

A lot of people work very hard to make an honest living; from small businesses on the side of the road to doing domestic work in the neighbouring suburbs. We have to make our own fun and entertainment; there are soccer and rugby teams, dance groups that we go watch and participate in during the weekends. For a very small community  like ours there is a lot going on here.

township street traders - Bronwyn Lloyd

Most importantly I was pleased to learn that Zwai and I share the same sentiment that people here are more interested in hand-ups rather than handouts, this philosophy allows AWOL Tours to assist the local NGO Masicorp and contribute to supporting small business in Masiphumelele.

township soccer

Initially the guests seemed to be a bit concerned on their safety but this was soon put at ease by the friendly faces letting them know their presence is welcomed in this community.

township kids

Now that is what I call true humanity, people who against all odds are still able to smile and welcome others to share in their diverse rich culture. Above all, the tour is authentic and what you see is the day to day livelihood of the residents. To find out more about the AWOL Bicycle Township Tour to Masiphumelele please email

Written by Zizipho Silwana