The name Khayelitsha means “New Home” and many people from Khayelitsha came from the Eastern Cape with the purpose to find employment. Khayelitsha was established in 1985, during the height of apartheid’s segregated development policy. It started as the informal settlement, or ‘matchbox houses’ area, but today it is the fastest growing and youngest black township on the Cape Flats.
Khayelitsha has the highest rate of unemployment that gives rise to gangesterism, crime and drug abuse. It is also the fastest developing township in South Africa. Khayelitsha was the first township on the Cape Flats to set up its own community radio station - Zibonele Community Radio.
The film uCarmen eKhayelitsha placed the township on the world map and scooped the Golden Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2005. The film combined the opera Carmen with the country’s African choral tradition, setting it locally in the township, giving it a totally new slant that stunned audiences throughout the world.
Khayelitsha has an estimated population of 406,779 (as of 2005) and runs for a number of kilometres along the N2. The ethnic makeup of Khayelitsha is approximately 90.5% Black African, 8.5% Coloured and 0.5% White, with Xhosa being the predominant language of the residents. Khayelitsha has a very young population. Fewer than 7% of its residents are over 50 years old and over 40% of its residents are under 19 years of age.