Exploring community in Cape Town: a reflection on hospitality

Following our time in Ilha de Moçambique we had an inspiring week in Cape Town meeting lots of really interesting people and having loads of great conversations about community.

I feel the need here to narrow our definition of community a little and that is to say that for us there is something important about physical proximity. Whilst very healthy, supportive and life-enriching communities can exist in other ways (online, for example) we are interested to explore community that involves the daily face-to-face cup of tea-sharing doing life together.

Even within this definition, being intentional about community can look very different to different people, from simply knowing your neighbours better to shared living arrangements. In Cape Town we managed to see a wide spectrum of examples including homes practising open-door hospitality, extended household living, co-housing, and residential eco villages. I thought I’d be able to write about all of these in this single post but alas, there’s too much to write about here. Instead, I’ll split them up over several posts as they all deserve attention and I’ll start with community through hospitality. (more…)


What is it about community anyway? 

In our plan for our Safari we wrote about exploring the the idea of community and I’ve been wanting for a while to start collecting together some of our thoughts around this. This will be the first of hopefully many blog posts as we learn but this one tries to articulate our motivations behind wanting to find out more. (Massively simplified because it’s supposed to be a blog post and not an essay!) The next post will talk a bit more about some different manifestations of intentional community, particularly in reference to lots of inspirational people we have met so far on our journey and based around our time in Cape Town. (We’re really behind, having now been in Australia for a month!)


Hospitality and names

We began writing this in the last few weeks of living in Milange. We had just spent a day driving around Milange on our motorbike, partly in order to collect a number of watch devices that I handed out to people as part of a study on sleep in rural and semi-rural communities (more on that another time), and partly just simply to get out and try to appreciate and remember life there. These goals gave us an excuse to visit some friends houses, just like how you would pop round for tea when you are in the area. (more…)

Guest post 9 – communal living and goat stew

In October university friends Will and Emily came to visit for a couple of weeks and we put them to work finishing the pizza oven! Actually they were a great motivation for us and really encouraged us to finish some projects that had laid dormant for a while and for that, and for their endless energy and willingness to join in, we are so grateful. Will also got us started on our new hobby – yoga! Will is an engineer and Emily is an architect so their skills were very useful. I think there’s a joke in there somewhere: 2 engineers, an architect and a research scientist are building a pizza oven… [suggest your ending in the comments]! Here’s Emily’s blog… (more…)

Guest post 7 – A parent’s perspective

This is a very special guest post written by Joanne’s parents, Doug and Elaine, on their trip to Mozambique in May. It was such a privilege to have them here and to be able to show them what we are up to and how we live day to day. They experienced many firsts: from their first connecting flight to their first time sleeping under a mosquito net to their first time in a kayak. We spent a wonderful couple of weeks together and we were very spoilt by an amazing holiday in Malawi too. Here are their thoughts on their experiences. (more…)

Live water and sanitation meeting in rural Zambézia


This is a photo I have just taken in the middle of rural Zambézia, a place called Cruzamento. It’s 2pm local time and Joanne is holding a meeting in the church building about the water and sanitation provisions here. They’re speaking the local language Chichewa and Joanne is getting a translation to Portuguese.

We’re in a bamboo and grass church. There’s one well for over 400 households. There’s not much here in the way of electricity, water, or houses with bricks, but I can still show you what I’m seeing because the cell network is good. Priorities in Mozambique are strange!

I could be live tweeting this meeting as I would any conference in England or the US. But I’m not. I’m 100km from Milange and a day walk to the nearest health post. Quite odd. The meeting seems to be going well. The men and women are enthusiastically answering Joanne’s questions which is giving Joanne some good information about how this community could be helped by the project. They’re talking about latrines just now. The women are all dressed in brightly coloured capalanas and the men are in the mix of jeans and shirts from the second hand market. It’s actually quite cold, well, by Mozambique standards. Is still probably shorts weather in England. As guests we’re always given an amazing welcome. The people are so hospitable even when they don’t have much. They gave us coke and biscuits as we arrived and are preparing lunch now. It makes you think how generous people can be with so little. I suppose that’s the African way. It really does make an impact on you. I hope I can be as generous during my time. I think the conversation is coming to an end now so I’ll sign off.

I hope this short post gives you a real time insight into life here, I’m glad I can tell its story.