In the early 20th century, Lan ga came to existence as a result of the 1923 Urban Areas Act. Langa, a Xhosa word meaning sun, is the oldest township in Cape Town emerging in 1927. It is located 20 kilometers from central Cape Town. Langa was named after, Langalibalele, a leader of the Hlubi people who was jailed on Robben Island in 1875 for refusing to accept the local government in Natal.
It was well known when black people were forced to move by the state to the suburb of Ndabeni and afterward from Ndabeni to Kwa. During the Bubonic plague and Spanish flue epidemics, black people were identified as the cause of these diseases. After being rushed out of the city, many people settled in an area known now as Langa.
The blueprint for the township was in agreement with apartheid strategies to guarantee surveillance of black people. It was built with wide streets, floodlights, and a police station located at its only entrance to observe and be in command of the residents. Housing in Langa was mainly dormitory style hostels. These were packed quarters intended for men who were forced to leave their families in their former homelands in search of work in the Cape. Living conditions and facilities were tremendously poor with apartheid policies entrenching these dismal conditions.
In 1960, more than 50,000 people led by the Pan Africanist leader, Philip Kgosana, began to march against the anti-pass laws. Frustration from oppressed black residents combined with violent state action against the marchers caused a sudden eruption in Kwa Langa. On the day of March 21st 1960, the community suffered the effects of killings, assaults, tortures and other brutal acts by the government and the police. It left the community in shock. State violence and protest action became a routine part of life in Langa. In 1976, Langa students were in the midst of some of the most active participants in the student resistance of the time. This struggle for human rights continued in Langa until liberation in 1994.