What freedom did: Black on Table Mountain

2013-04-28 14:00

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The results of Census 2011, to be released tomorrow, show how democracy has moved us – literally

Mkusheli Mancotywa likes Vredehoek, on the slopes of Table Mountain, for the same reason as everyone else does: it’s relatively affordable; has amazing views of the city; is close to work; and it’s near Table Mountain, where he and his neighbours like to jog.

The 35-year-old advertising executive from Mthatha moved there last June.

It’s also where his girlfriend, who is white, lives.

The fact that most of his neighbours are white – he’s one of the 313 black residents who form 9% of the suburb’s population according to the census – was not something he considered before he moved there.

During his 10 years in Cape Town after he moved there from East London, he’s always lived in formerly white suburbs.

What he doesn’t like about Vredehoek is the same thing his neighbours don’t like – the gale force southeaster, which howls down the slopes of the mountain.

This is why it is more affordable than other suburbs in the City Bowl.

And there are “a far too many cats”, he says.

According to him, the white neighbours are the same as middle class neighbours everywhere, largely disinterested. “When I moved in I could sense the feeling of suspicion from my neighbours but in time this went away.

“But we still don’t really talk, this could be me as well as I really don’t feel like trying any more.”

When he’s out shopping and socialising, he’s often mistaken for a supermarket worker or a waiter.

The fact that his girlfriend is white is not seen as unusual by Cape Town whites, but “black people always seem a little animated when they realise we are a couple”.

Nearly all his black friends live in formerly white suburbs too, having come of age since 1994.

The “’kasi” holds little appeal for them, he says.

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