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From one 'gatvol' Capetonian to another

2018-07-06 08:43
Member of Gatvol Capetonian (Photo: Supplied)

Member of Gatvol Capetonian (Photo: Supplied)

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Estrelita Moses

If ever there was a stark reminder of how effective apartheid was, and still is on the psyche, it is the attitudes of residents of the Western Cape towards one another.

I am sure there are plenty of pockets in the rest of the country that are the same. But somehow the "oh so cosmopolitan" Cape Town and surrounds just pip other possible runners up.

The recently formed "Gatvol Capetonian" group, who are calling for all black people from the Eastern Cape to leave the Western Cape, is a prime example of a systemic poison that will take who knows how long to root out.

The group is advocating for people to be bussed back to the Eastern Cape, but insists it is not "anti-black", but "pro-brown". A spokesperson for the group Fadiel Adams says there is "not a racist bone" in their movement. 

So, what is pro-brown then? What does that actually mean? 

The group's chairperson, Ebrahiem Davids, told News24 earlier this week that they would like to see the independence of the Western Cape. Are coloured or mixed-race people (because you got the good hair and the light eyes) an island on their own? Are we not all South African?

"Take a walk around Cape Town. Show me the trace of us [coloured people]. We have always been here. You see Sobukwe, Mandela, Kgosana, everybody. Where is Ashley Kriel and Pedro Page Boulevard? Krotoa Airport? They act as if we have never been here. They want to black out all of Cape Town," Adams said. 

Who are the "they" that want to "black out" all of Cape Town, I ask you?

The formation of this group simply serves to show that the coloured/white, coloured/black and yes, coloured/coloured divide is still a huge chasm in the Western Cape. It is pervasive and manifests itself insidiously. I don't know if the damage done to coloured people in our province (and country) is something we will ever be able to repair. It certainly won't happen if we are on our "own island".

A recent discussion on school admissions in our area made me cringe. 

Where I grew up, most of the schools in the immediate surrounds were all-white. We stay in what used to be considered a "sturvy" coloured area – separated from the neighbouring and previously all-white area by a railway line. 

So, when these schools opened up after 1994 there was a massive migration to schools that were better equipped, had better facilities and so on, and I wouldn't begrudge anyone that. But two decades on, the criteria seem to have shifted.

"Only a sprinkling of white faces here now"; "It used to be such a good school, but now they (and I read that to mean black kids) are everywhere"; "Have you heard how they speak, they sound so flat?"; "I don't want my child to go to a coloured school"; "The teachers are mostly white, thank god"; "Did you see that hair?" 

These are some of the "nicer" comments I've heard there.

And that school discussion is a drop in the ocean. Let's not get into why we still use harmful chemicals on our hair, why the right (well, white) accent is still favoured, why we still use phrases like "Mitchells Plain born and fled" and why I still think I am better than you because I grew up on the right side of the tracks. I can go on and on. 

Are we still here? Clearly.

This is the Wikipedia definition of a system that continues to make its footprint felt: "Apartheid was a political and social system in South Africa while it was under white minority rule... The word apartheid means 'apartness' in Afrikaans. Racial segregation had been used for centuries but when the new policy started in 1948 it was strict and more systematic."

We are still a very long way from being comfortable with our racial identity as South Africans – no matter how groups like Gatvol Capetonian spins it. 

God forbid, I call us all black. That would be a whole new debate. 

Not sure about that Steve Hofmeyr endorsement either, Gatvol Capetonian.

- Moses is managing and mobile editor of News24.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    western cape  |  cape town  |  racism
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