City lights, boring kasi life, its all in the stew

2015-12-10 06:00
Lunga Adam

Lunga Adam

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So, it’s that time of the year! If you are a township resident, there is no way you can miss this month’s cheerfullness on all andsundry.

Sure as hell, it must probably be the only month of the year where folk guzzle grogg late into the night. And, as you drag yourself to work still in a state of daze the next morning, you discover there are already people out and about, in search of a drink to cure the horrid babalaza, brought on by the previous night’s bingeing.

In December, the air we breathe seem fresh, the skies are sunny and blu, even people seem friendlier than usual.

Perhaps this could be because people tend to worry less and focus on making merry with friend and foe alike.

As has been customary since time immemorial, the Festival of Lights took place in the Cape Town CBD on Sunday, with young and old flocking the streets as Mayor Patricia De Lille switched on the festive season lights in Adderley Street.

This is to officially declare the festive season open and to welcome the throngs of visitors to the Cape shores over the season. According to those who attended, it was a grand affair. Yet, what piqued my curiosity was that prior to the occasion, there were murmurs from the ANC Youth League, who were suggesting that the annual event be held at Jafta Masemola Road in Khayelitsha.

They argued that this event seems to exclude poorer residents who could “only attend this free open air concert if they pay high rates for public transport to attend in the city centre”.

I thought to myself ‘hmmm’. Not that I necessarily agree with the young lions. But I do wonder if it is just me, or whether you have also noticed how dull, boring and sometimes lifeless our streets in Kasi appear to be during this time of the year. Nothing cries ‘festive’ in your face. This is especially so as so-called ‘amagoduka’ make their way to their ancestral homes and an eerie silence falls on Kasi streets during daytime. In some cases, you even stumble on uncollected garbage and sewage drains that stink. Phew! This, while the more affluent ‘burbs of the Cape boast bright lights and a people more secure about their surroundings. This, if anything, lends credence to the long-held belief that Cape Town privilege is reserved for a certain section of the population. Has the City ever given thought to how life can be brought to our township streets at this time, apart from the occasional end-of-year luncheons for the elderly and kids (to ‘bring a smile to their faces’, blah blah)? I doubt it. But imagine the picture of splendour that our Kasis could turn into, for just this period, should some of our prominent streets resemble something like Adderley Street. Equally, I find it difficult to fathom the fact that locals would seem scared to drive around Terminus Road, even as it is Yuletide. For a period known for for peace, the coming together of families and communities, the environment is not fertile for such. Young girls run the risk of being raped in the midst of the so-called festivities, especially if left to their own devices. Revellers are wary of walking late at night. We are not at liberty, so to speak. I know that the recent Open Streets campaign in Langa was a huge success. Now, imagine a Steve Biko Drive (NY1) in Gugulethu or a Washington Street in Langa being closed to traffic for specific times of the day, to make way for fun activities, with decor to match. Too beautiful. But that remains just a dream for now. A figment of my imagination. So, then Kasi folk, the festive season is what you make of it. “Exercise caution”, “keep your doors locked”, “be on the lookout for suspicious vehicles and individuals”, “be wary of crime hotspots”, and what have you. Take care!

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