Kgomotso Matsunyane

From Sea Point to Spruitview

2007-10-04 09:20

Kgomotso Matsunyane

There comes a time when one has to take care of your parents. My time came four months ago when my mother suffered from excessive bleeding in the brain (subdural haematoma) and had to undergo emergency surgery.

My life was instantly transformed as I moved out of the house I shared with my Egyptian filmmaker flatmate, her German cameraman, and various other exotic local and international types. The decision to live with my mom came instantly. It was just what I had to do.

I left home when I was 17 years old to go study overseas, came back with an American husband, divorced, and have been more or less single since. I loved my life, free from children, permanent men and live-in relatives alike.

The first two weeks with mom were the hardest, with her in convalescence but recovering like the true warrior she is. I have never seen her so vulnerable before, and our paradigm shifted irrevocably - with me now becoming the caretaker, a role she has played brilliantly in my life.

Certainly we both had to adjust in a major way (I admit I ain't no walk in the park either), but we were so grateful to have each other, it obliterated any misgivings we might have had.


Adjusting to Spruitview however, has been much more interesting and frankly more of a challenge than I expected. Spruitview is a black suburb off the N3, nestled between Katlehong, Vosloorus and Leondale. It was developed in 1989 as one of the first "freeholds" where blacks could own land in the country (can you believe it wasn't that long ago?).

My mother moved into her new home in 1990, and by then I was already overseas. Since coming back home, I've only lived in suburbs where I was a minority as a black person. Moving back to Spruitivew has been a disappointing reminder of how racially separate we still are.

Where black people live in this country, and my suburb is no exception, the chain stores and franchises have bullet-proof windows to separate workers from customers. At the petrol station, there's a security guard to check your receipt for every single purchase inside the shop - so for the three steps between the door and the till, you better not lose your receipt.

It's terrible to be made to feel like a criminal, but I suppose it's a testament to the violence and crime that businesspeople have to endure. I just wonder why the same rules don't apply in white suburbs? Are blacks really more prone to stealing that other people?

No Mr Delivery!

Another marked difference between my two habitats is there are no pizza parlours in Spruitview, nor is there a Woolies. Most of all, what I miss the most from Sea Point is my dearest and most trusted friend, Mr Delivery.

What you can find in Spruitview are the following: Chisa Nyama and Chicken Dust, a franchise of that Nandos rip-off Carico Chicken, lots of hair salons, 2 BP Garages, one robot and the Mathambo Spar, where if I want to use a credit card I better have my ID with me.

There are no white people in Spruitview, so I'm at pains to find someone to blame for the many discrepancies between my two worlds.

For better or worse, I am a dual citizen, and to traverse both worlds with such ease is both a right and a privilege most South Africans may never enjoy. I'll be in Sea Point this weekend, so see you next time for more.

  • Kgomotso Matsunyane is a partner at T.O.M. Pictures - a film production company in Jo'burg.

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