You will love me

2012-02-11 09:47

This confrontation has been a long time coming.

But by holding my tongue in the interests of peace, I realise I’ve been indulging in the same passive aggressive behaviour I’ve accused friends and family of practising when it comes to addressing the injustices they face on a daily basis in this beautiful city.

I have been a hypocrite. But I’m finally ready to confront my hypocrisy and the thorny issue of race relations in Cape Town.

First, a disclaimer: I don’t have scientific proof for most of what I’m about to preach, but some things just require the understanding of human nature.

When I refer to “black people” it is because I have been one all my life.

And when I talk of Capetonians, know that I was born and raised there until the age of 21.

On New Year’s Eve, a group of us decided to go up Table Mountain to usher in 2012. In previous years we’d done the clubs, the beach and the street parties.

This time we wanted to try something most of us had never done – going up the mountain.

As a group of seven 22-39 year-old natives of the city, it was time to find out what all the fuss was about.

But our magical night on top of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World was nearly ruined.

All because a smattering of stiff-necked fussbudgets seemed to find seven happy, huggy, singing women more of a menace than piss drunk German tourists falling into thorn bushes and teenagers heaving up their alcopops on the rocks.

As the clock struck midnight and fireworks joined the twinkling city lights below, we set up a chorus of “Happy New Years”.

Then, from somewhere to my right, came a disembodied female voice. “Gawd! Do they have to be so loud?”

My euphoria instantly evaporated and righteous anger took over. I’d been “touched on my studio”.

I turned towards the Voice, took a deep breath and yelled “Happy New Yeeeeeeeeear!”

If there had been a Halls mint representative around, I would have been hired on the spot.

When I explained what had happened to my companions, we unanimously decided not to go down quietly.

We broke into Lengoma by Zahara and DJ Sbu and proceeded, quite deliberately, to irritate anyone within a five-kilometre radius.

Our motto was: This is Africa, bitch! We are here to stay. Get used to it.

For the next two hours, as we made our way down to the cable car in a painfully (for some) slow queue, we became the Insane Seven, carrying on loud conversations in deep isiXhosa, broken-accented Engrish and larney proper Queen’s.

We yelled across at each other about having long hair: “It’s mine, I’ve got the receipt to prove it!” and gave our support to a drunk German whose girlfriend had dumped him among the rocks – “We love you Stephan!”

We threw veiled threats at any upstarts surreptitiously giving us dirty looks: “If anyone’s got a problem they can meet us outside the gates!”

When the people in front of us finally entered the cable car and the glass doors put a barrier between us and them, they broke into loud applause and made rude gestures as they trundled back down the mountain.

My group’s bravado and infantile behaviour might have been fun and funny, but it veiled a simmering anger that so many of my black brothers and sisters have towards to snooty white people in this city.

These are the people who believe that we “invade” their space when we stroll among them in Somerset Mall, sing and dance on Table Mountain, or bring our camp chairs and cooler boxes to Clifton Fourth beach.

The Helen Zilles of this world might dismiss these as petty issues that prove nothing.

But the fact is, black people have been seen and not heard around here for way too long and we are sick of it.

So, my darling Cape Town, be warned.

A revolt is brewing, and if you continue to dismiss your black children with a flick of the wrist like irritating flies, you will regret it because the darkies are finally ready to claim you as their own.

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