Cape Town not racist, just too fabulous for some
Apart from a gloriously unproductive stint in Grahamstown for three years (go Rhodes!) I’ve lived in Cape Town my whole life. I’ve lived in more suburbs in the city than devout Catholics have children and, thanks to my mother and father’s prodigious hobby of collecting spouses, I’m probably related, semi-related or have been related at one time to around 63% of all living Capetonians. So for the first time in the many years I’ve been writing this column, I feel that I’m finally well qualified to have an opinion on something.
Let me put this bluntly. The malarkey about Cape Town being racist is bollocks. I know this erupted at the end of last year, and the relevant protagonists and antagonists in the matter have probably had their brittle attention spans disrupted by a shiny butterfly or some free pants that they have to promote on Twitter (possibly by using the word “mwah” six times in a sentence), but as a born-and-bred, fully-fledged Capetonianista (new word, I just coined it. Eat your heart out, Shakespeare) I feel I must have my say on the kerfuffle that soiled my good city’s name.
There’s been much serious analytical, socio-political, anthropological, historical and hysterically angsty back-and-forth gumpf written about the spat between the Western Cape premier and the two Twitter artists who "feel" that Cape Town is racist. None of what was previously written or said matters here. Because their sentiments on the racism they perceived were anecdotal, my riposte shall be anecdotal too.
In our defence, your honour
For the record, we Capetonians (because let’s face it, an actual city cannot be racist, unless it’s an evil Decepticon Transformer that’s been lying dormant for eons, just waiting for the right time to strike with evil and racist intent against only dark-skinned humans) are no more racist than our brothers and sisters in Joburg, Durban, Bloem, PE and any of the other cities in this great country trying to improve the lot of all citizens who live there. Which is to say, we’re not.
For sure, there are bad eggs here, as there are rotten eggs in every province, town, city or suburb. But for some reason Cape Town is an easy target for bad-mouth labelling. Ja, agreed, sometimes we are snooty, we are cliquey, we’re a little bit dopey, we’re a bit slow and we get distracted easily when driving (especially when visiting Vaalies are driving up our naughts at 140km/h in a 60km zone in the December hols). We are, however, the furthest thing from a racist people. We’re just a goddam cool people, who forget our manners at times.
We get a little caught up in our own worlds sometimes. And other South Africans take it the wrong way. It’s not that we don’t want you here, it’s that we just don’t realise you’re even here because we’re too busy having a jol in Cape Town.
Clichés are fun. I like to poke Durban in the side with a stick for being a muggy shithole with nothing going for it but a rugby side that everyone supposedly loves, but can’t even fill a stadium (except when they play here!). Joburg is full of coke-fuelled berzerkers who care for nothing except the size of their house in a secure golf estate and how many jet-skis they can drag to Hermanus on holiday. And so on.
You know how it goes. We can make fun of each other because we can handle it. This is not a country of whiny drips. This is a country of manly men and women, where we drink ice-cold Black Labels after building emergency runways for flailing light aircraft to safely land on. This is a country where, if you so much as sneeze in the direction of a rhino, you get shot in the head first and asked a question later. This is a country where our two most renowned running races are Ultra Marathons for heaven’s sake, not some piddly 42km stroll around the wharf.
This is not racist country
But this is not a racist country. Rather, it’s a country where race is used as an excuse if you don’t get what you want. Where, if you feel unwanted or unloved you can say you "feel" victimised because it’s a well-known myth that Capetonians are unwelcoming of others. Bullshit, I say.
May I suggest to those who do feel like that when they come to Cape Town to pull their heads out of their asses and, instead of worrying about which trendy bars you can get into and what stores sell the best skinny jeans, you get out and experience the Cape Town where most life-long Capetonianistas (ie, life-long devotees to the Mother City) live.
Come and see the Cape Town where the Two Oceans Marathon is run, or where the Cycle Tour is cycled, or where Newlands is packed, not with white runners, or racist cyclists or snobbish cricket fans, but with people who "get it", people who realise Cape Town is nothing to do with self-advancement, but everything to do with living life to its fullest potential.
Enjoy the Cape Town with people whose priorities aren’t finger-pointing on a social networking site, or flaming fires for a fickle second before moving on to promote a new brand of cheese. There is a Cape Town where people smile at each other, chat congenially and share similar, positive experiences every day - and it’s not found in boutique underpants stores or pretentious nightclubs.
It’s in the heart, soul and surroundings of the city. And that’s what makes it, and every other city in this country, great. It’s what you do where you live, not how many people you can tell while you’re doing it, that makes it special. This is Cape Town. And it’s fucking brilliant. Just like your city, just like your town, just like your dorpie. If you’re not enjoying it, you’re living it the wrong way.
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