Cape Town not racist, just too fabulous for some

2012-01-17 07:51

David Moseley

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.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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  • Jarryd - 2012-01-17 09:26

    Cape Town <3

  • Citizen - 2012-01-17 09:28

    David pretty much sums up the rest of the countries views on Cape Town,hard to argue with that kind of logic.You must all be doing something right if you can still AFFORD to live there ha ha

  • nowelazn - 2012-01-17 09:28

    "...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..." LOL!!

      anorkie - 2012-01-17 10:11

      I had a black plummer working at my home not so long ago, he told me I was the first and only person to hire him in a few years, the only way he could get work was if he worked for a white person. Now do I need to say more???

  • Roland - 2012-01-17 09:37

    Please! How can you possibly be qualified to defend CT when you haven't lived anywhere else? And then to add that SA is not racist?! That takes the cake. White and living in the Southern Suburbs, I bet? Easy for you... This attitude is precisley what people are commenting on, fool! It reminds me of the eighties' 'we're not so bad' defence of apartheid.

      mikenortje - 2012-01-17 13:11

      Eeeeiish Roland

      Leigh - 2012-01-17 13:42

      And what is wrong with being white and living in the southern suburbs? It is comments like this which keep racism alive in South Africa. South Africa is an amazing country which is trying to escape its heritage of racism but until people actually let go and stop screaming racism as soon as they feel like they have not got what they feel / want to have then it will never stop. I do not feel guilty for being white and living in Cape Town. I can never change the colour of my skin and never should apologise for being white, it is how I treat others which defines me.

      ArchAngel - 2012-01-17 14:17

      @rolandpox: Sorry mate, your comment was an EPIC FAIL. 1. There is NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING WHITE AND LIVING IN THE SOUTHERN SUBURBS. 2. There is NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING WHITE AND LIVING ANYWHERE. 3. There is NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING WHITE, period. Just a much as there is (substitute BLACK for WHITE in points 1, 2 and 3 above) You either just do not get it or you are a very bitter and unfulfilled little man. When you use the word *fool*, with your attitude above it fits your profile to the proverbial T. You are a RACIST TW@T!

  • TheyTookMyNickLaZynEko - 2012-01-17 09:47

    ?"From all this we may learn that there are two races of men in this world, but only these two - the "race" of the decent man and the "race" of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people." - Holocaust Survivor.

  • myst.rackermann - 2012-01-17 09:56

    Brilliant article!

  • Edwina - 2012-01-17 09:57

    People of Cape Town - smug bastards. That's exactly what we are. We are smug, happy, contented and proud to be living here. Call us names, try to belittle us if that makes you happy, we couldn't care less.

      Rob - 2012-01-17 14:03

      Edwina...I know a few folk who moved from Joeys to Cape Town and are very happy where they are. They in so doing contributed positively to the average IQ of both Cities.

  • ruben.maistry - 2012-01-17 10:09

    Yes racisism is prevalent in Cape Town, however, it is not as bad as in other cities and towns in South Africa.I must concede that the quality of life in Cape Town is ten fold superior to any other city or town in South Africa.My use of the word racisism is practiced by people of all races.

  • JodiAllemeier - 2012-01-17 10:14

    Its a perception that needs to be addressed regardless. If people anticipate racism, it often becomes a self-fulfilling prohpecy. (e.g. "bad service at a restauran, they must be racist!" - never mind we all get bad service, regardless of race).

  • colleen.figg - 2012-01-17 10:28

    Brilliant piece David! I could not have said it better myself and I am not a Capetonian but have been privileged to spend some time in that lovely, lovely place, filled with VERY cool people! In fact I once wrote a column about the place myself, AND I was quoted on Cape Talk! Go me! Go Cape Town! Nice one David!

  • barbara.pieterse - 2012-01-17 10:32

    David Moseley for Mayor. You tell 'em doll!

  • Godfrey - 2012-01-17 11:36

    "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". Classic. Of course the racist allegations are made by the useless, overpaid, underqualified, disinterested pinheads who run then other provinces. They hate the comparisons.

      Pumlani - 2012-01-19 14:19

      Why dont you just go ahead and say "BLACKS" because thats what you are implying. Stupid idiot....

  • lydonmcg - 2012-01-17 11:55

    LOL at that description of Durban.

  • Afrofestina - 2012-01-17 11:56

    1) You've live in every suburb. Have you lived in the Cape Flats? Or in any township? 2) Why must the people of Cape Town be defended. Just because you love it doesn't mean everybody else will or should. 3) As rolandcox said below: "This attitude is precisley what people are commenting on, fool"

      James - 2012-01-17 12:52

      By the same rational, no-one is allowed to voice an opinion if they have no lived in every,single 'environment'. People from Cape town and surrounds love the Cape, there is nothing wrong with that. If you want quality of life - come to Cape Town. If you want lots of money- go to JHB, and become yet another money hungry capitalist pig.

      ArchAngel - 2012-01-17 14:20

      @AfrofesteringA: You and RolandPox moved out of that Wendy house out back yet? The rent is due!!

      Leigh - 2012-01-17 15:03

      Afrofestina you are perpetuating the racism in this country. Sad but true. Stop judges others for where they live. Again, regardless of where you live it is what you do or how you think that matters.

  • Gareth - 2012-01-17 12:25

    Cape Town vs the world - yawn.

      Lanfear - 2012-01-18 09:12

      LOL! Truly spoken. I grew up in Pretoria but have lived for a year in Cape Town, lived for a year in East London, two years in Jozi and several months in London. And of all those, East London is the city I would return to most gladly. Its beaches are way more beautiful than either Cape Town or Durbs, its nature far more untouched, its weather great, its not the massive tourist trap that other places are, the people are friendly and down to earth and its atmosphere quiet and relaxed. If it wasn't that my job kept me in Gauteng at the moment, I would gladly move to East London.

  • Miss-Joy - 2012-01-17 12:40

    "Dont touch me on my Cape Town"

  • ludlowdj - 2012-01-17 12:42

    A great article, of course Cape Town's "Racist" tag comes from the fact that its the only city the ANC hasn't managed to take over. With Durban now officially the most expensive city to live in, with possibly the least to offer on an industrial, commercial or private level, I can see a lot of people selling up to move to cities where their rand is actual worth more than 10c, and knowing that Durbanite's also enjoy a laid back existence without the need to dedicate every hour to making money, Cape Town will attract more new residence than any other major city.

  • Miss-Joy - 2012-01-17 12:43

    Chillax people, this isn't about which city is the best, and which is the worst. But Joburg really is the worst ;)

  • Ed - 2012-01-17 12:52

    Jealousy makes you nasty,I may be wrong but I have never heard anyone excited to go back home to Jo'burg or Durban.

  • Derek - 2012-01-17 12:56

    There is a mindset in this country that if something works it is racist...if it doesnt it is a legacy of apartheid...

  • John - 2012-01-17 13:00

    JHB < CT < London

  • magda.harmse - 2012-01-17 13:10

    This is my take on this... Cape Town is an awesome place to live... Some people are full of themselves but there are people like that everywhere... if you can get over this and meet the right people Cape Town is a fantastic place to live... and Im not born and bred Cape Town.. but lived here a for a short while (being 1 year) and wouldnt move away...

  • wesley.bischoff - 2012-01-17 14:29

    Clearly Derrick, you were hanging out with the wrong crowd. You now judge all Capetonians to be that way just because of a FEW people you met along the way that were so...

  • wesley.bischoff - 2012-01-17 14:31

    We don't need the love or respect of you Gautengers, or anyone for that matter. We know who we are, we are proud of our home and just because we don't go around seeking attention and approval like some other people (not all, because not everyone is the same...) doesn't mean that we look down upon Joburgers or Durbanites or whatever...

      Lanfear - 2012-01-18 09:16

      True Wesley that you don't need love and respect from the rest of the country. We all know how you secretly long to create the Republic of Cape Town. And you do look down on the rest of the country, for example, still calling those from the north "Vaalies" although that tag has been redundant for many years now. You guys frequently comment on here how the rest of the country should stay away, bugger off, not come for holiday [even though that's your city's biggest revenue], and gods forbid that one of us should dare move to Cape Town. You should be thankful that you live in such a beautiful place, not smug.

  • samuel.serfontein - 2012-01-17 15:07

    yes and there's a reason why our kids are the smartest in the country

      Lanfear - 2012-01-18 09:09

      Oh please! In 2010, Gauteng was tops. It differs every year. And funny that the top 20 schools are not only mostly in Gauteng but actually in Pretoria. Tukkies also beat all other universities last year with marks, pass rates, research output, etc.

      Lanfear - 2012-01-19 08:55

      ROFL! I can only shake my head and laugh at the thumbs-down. So come you guys, bring the statistics. Or do just thumbs-down out of habit.

      agosthino - 2012-01-19 09:52

      Actually the top 2 Universities in Africa(in the top 200 worldwide) are UCT and Stellenbosch, so I dont know where your getting your facts

  • Struan Alexander - 2012-01-18 06:11

    Durban is the best city, you can actually swim in the sea here all year round!

      hilton.bannister - 2012-01-18 10:10

      Yeah you need a bulldozer to get through the people just to wet your toes

  • Dave - 2012-01-18 10:56

    Context: Africa for the Africans,Asia for the Asians,white countries for EVERYBODY! Mass immigration and "assimilation" forced on all white countries and ONLY white countries. Genocide is genocide,it makes no difference if it is accomplished by bullets and mustard gas,or mass immigration and social engineering. Anti-racist is a codeword for anti-white.

      logical007 - 2012-01-18 11:28

      @ Dave What or where is there a 'white country'? How boring!!!! And please explain what you are going on about - This was a tongue and cheek article and you write this nonsense??? You seriously need help - TARA in Sandton?

      Maximus Odinidus - 2012-01-24 09:24

      It may be too late to respond on Dave's behalf but the general sentiment from young, black, militant youth league supporters is "Africa for Africans" which forms part of the "African Agenda" which is supported by people by Julius Malema and Robert Mugabe. It is evident every time someone says if you don't like the way the ANC runs the country then leave. There are a group of people who would like for nothing more than to kick minority groups out of SA and return mg's to their mother countries because those who have a slightly more fair skin tone are not seen as Africans.

  • Luke - 2012-01-18 12:36

    Great writing Chris! love it! Capetonianista's are all about the lifestyle. I have been living in CPT for the last year, and nothing beats early run on the beach, kite-surfing, day trips to the wine farms and all the glorious and delicious things that this City/Province has to offer! the people are friendly and chilled and honestly just want to get on with it. Black, White, Cloured, Indian & Asian or who or whatever. Peace

  • Gail - 2012-01-18 14:37

    I am a Vaalie, and I loved your article David.

  • Jarbas - 2012-01-18 15:59

    My name is Jarbas dos Santos. I´m from Brazil and I stayed in CT for 6 weeks. I must to say I love that wonderful city as well as Capetownians. Despite of social problems, every coutry also has its positive issues, including Brazil. Anyway, we must believe our countries will overcome such historical problems. It takes time, but it´s possible. Many of the rich nations were barbarians in the past and now they are good examples of nice society. But now we don´t need such a long time to develop. Let´s go for it?

  • Harald - 2012-01-19 13:53

    This whole rasism thing is BS, its because the DA runs the Western Cape and CT, thats why its "rasist", the ANC hate the fact that they cannot win the Cape, because the people here don't want their BS!! As for the rest... Don't come here if you don't like us, problem solved!! :)

  • Bongani - 2012-01-19 14:16

    blah blah blah, no place is safe as long as human beings occupy it, just live with each other, who cares which city is the best politicians keep wasting taxpayers money whilst we busy lauding about which place is the best......nxa

  • Kara - 2012-01-19 14:53

    I have lived in Cape Town my whole life, but have travelled quite a bit within South Africa. Firstly I would like to say that I have never experienced any form of racism towards me from a stranger in the Western Cape. Sure I have heard some racist remarks, but it's mostly just kids repeating what their stone age parents have told them. When I go to Polokwane, I am actually too scared to go into the shops by myself. I have literally been pushed out of shopping lines on more than one occasion, with the shop attendants completely ignoring me and serving the black (yes I said black, because that is what he was) guy first. WTH is up with that? My mother was actually shouted at in the middle of Pick 'n Pay because she let a lady with a small basket of goods go in front of her and then protested when the lady's family came pushing two fully loaded trolleys. Again the cashier did nothing. Again, WTH is up with that? And don't even get my started on the racist whites in the area. Never before have I come across so much animosity, simply because of people being a different colour. The Western Cape seems to be completely removed from this. Secondly I would like to say that Captonians ARE cliquey.Dare I say it's mostly the white Captonians! I find the coloured and black population to be friendly in general. However if you want to see REAL friendliness, go somewhere like P.E or Pretoria or Beaufort West. That's where you see what being "welcoming" is all about!

      Graziella - 2012-01-19 20:53


  • Kara - 2012-01-19 15:00

    One of the things I hate about Cape Town is that everything is almost double the price of anywhere else. Because of this we hardly ever get to enjoy the wine farms and beautiful views our city has to offer.

  • Shaun - 2012-01-19 19:39

    I don't know what planet you from bro? but racism amongst whites towards coloureds & blacks are still very evident, especially in the southern suburbs. The reason is that they still see our people as either a maid (cleaning up after their mess) and a garden boy (common phrase "we took a while to sort the garden out" us = me, not the garden boy) Walk into a shop anywhere in southern suburbs with a white person behind the counter , a white person will be served like this: "good day sir/mam, how can we help", a coloured/black person will be greeted like this "yes". I'm glad I don't stay in the southern suburbs anymore and for my overseas/inland friends they've seen the same. I travelled the country and all whites are the same! But then again I don't hold grudges that's the way white children are reared (You're are the BOSS and "anything" below you will stay below you)! Enjoy Cape Town bro, I'm enjoying it as well, I live by the rule: Majority Rules = Black, Coloureds and Indians.

  • Graziella - 2012-01-19 21:02

    For me a walk in the beach with friends or family really can be much more enjoyable and healthy than a shopping trip to the mall to buy stuff every Saturday. How's that for Analogy?

  • Nirvan - 2012-01-20 20:19

    Well said David. Most racism in Cape Town is perpetrated by rotten eggs who have moved to the Mother City from other provinces, mostly white Durbanites. I have experienced more racism in Durban in short holidays than my whole life living in Cape Town! I have had racial slurs hurled against me by people in Cape Town, and guess what...they were from Durban lol.

  • Liza Anderson - 2012-01-20 21:34


  • Jamiu Peleowo - 2012-01-23 22:28

    Well written, great piece.

  • given.zondi - 2012-03-13 13:15

    After having been told a million times about the racism in cape town, I will sure keep this article in mind wen I visit in december.

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