Howard Feldman

Christmas in Cape Town despite the drought?

2017-10-20 08:12

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South Africa is about to enter the pathological season. It’s the time of year when no one wants to make a decision.

No one dares to take on new projects and the irrational fear that something might interfere with the December break occupies every wakeful moment. With six weeks to go before December, South Africans are careful to make no sudden movements, lest they disturb the Holiday Monster. 

South Africans have in fact never forgiven Jacob Zuma for interfering in their 2015 Christmas break when he fired the finance minister and appointed another for 23 minutes. And he will ultimately pay for that. 

This year however presents a real dilemma for many. For years and years our family has left Johannesburg to enjoy a few weeks in what has to be the most beautiful city in the world: Cape Town. We grew up doing this, at first traveling on the overnight Trans-Karoo to the coast and then later when air travel became more affordable, flying down.

I met my wife on a Cape Town holiday and a few years later spent many dawn hours pushing a pram and walking along the promenade with our infants whilst their exhausted mother caught up on some sleep.

On occasion, in what can only be described as the triumph of optimism over experience, we attempted the 14 hour drive to the coast with our babies (not recommended) and then later, I "road-tripped" with my teenage son whilst the rest of the family "Kalula’d".

Cape Town has always been the punctuation on the narrative of our lives.

But this year we don’t know what to do.

A friend of mine, who has a holiday apartment in Cape Town had a conversation with the property management company. He was chatting about various administrative items when the guy said something to the effect of, "I assume you are not coming down this year.

When my friend asked why, he said because it is "morally wrong for Joburgers to come down to Cape Town and to use what little water resources we have." My friend answered that his apartment is unoccupied for 11 months of the year, during which time he pays rates and taxes and therefore is fully entitled, and morally not compromised, if he chooses to do so.

And he is right. I think. But my wife isn’t so sure. She is concerned that if we go to Cape Town it will negatively impact and place strain on the economy. She is also concerned about the health aspects of functioning with so little water and if it’s a smart decision to make.

I countered that with the fact that the Cape economy relies heavily on tourism and that not spending our Gauteng rands there will do damage to the region in different ways.

We also don’t know if the building administrator was simply being obtuse and reflecting years of disgruntlement because come December, his roads are full, he has to stand in line at his Woolworths and can’t find parking at his Boulders beach.

He might also not have the luxury of time choosing which half of the chicken schnitzel he wants for dinner whilst the impatient holiday-makers jostle behind him and shout their orders in dozens.

"Joburgers" are well accustomed to the love-hate ambivalence that Capetonians feel towards them. And it’s not difficult to understand why. December in Cape Town is the battleground of the vast difference of the cultures of the cities. And it plays out on Main Road in Sea Point and at the malls, beaches, restaurants and in the check-out line of the local Spar.

But this year will be different. Because Cape Town is in crisis. And when it comes down to the basics, South Africans view the city as the jewel in the crown of the country. And everyone loves Cape Town.

The question if prompt action could have assisted in alleviating the situation aside, our prayers are with those who live in the region. It cannot be easy to picture the months ahead until the winter and there is little doubt that the rest of the country would want to do what is best to assist.

We just don’t know what that is. 

- Feldman is the author of Carry on Baggage and Tightrope and the afternoon drive show presenter on Chai FM.

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  |  water shortage  |  drought
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