Cape Town is not Racist

by Vus Ngxande

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So the question is, is Cape Town an inherently racist? I’m not one for gross generalisations, that’s just retarded, so I thought it would help if I gave my first hand experience in race relations in the Mother City. Firstly, there is an assumption that racism is perpetrated by whites onto unsuspecting black. No fam, Cape Town is on some other tip on this one.

White vs Black
There is no other place in the country I ever seen where white people so at peace. Here they walk really slow. You see them at coffee joints, there’s A LOT here, pooch on chain. With no sense of alarm. In Joburg white people walk briskly and generally avoid eye contact. In the Cape they look at you, right through you, and walk past. At times not recognising you, their colleague (its happened a few times). Is there anything wrong with this? Not at all. My point is, White people here don’t feel as threatened by the “otherness” of others.

Cape Town affords them their own space where they can live in nonchalant bubbles. Doing anything and everything they please. The list of extra mural activities here is a lengthy one. Most of these are “sponsored” mother nature but they are heavily facilitated by the City of Cape Town. There’s a 20km bicycle that was launched between Blouberg and Cape Town. Round about the same time the open air toilets in the townships hit the headlines. In many of the pro-Cape Town tweets, people kept to talking about the majestic scenery, mountain, oceans and such. Rarely were people relations mentioned Does this mean Cape Town whites are racist? No, Cape Town affords its white population the opportunity not to give a sh*t. Many, many have taken this opportunity with both hands.

Black vs Coloured
I’m in a taxi going to work. The coloured driver gives me R25 worth of coins as change. I ask him for a R20 note rather. “Waz rong, iz stil maani mos? Jerrreee dets why you pipol don’t get anywheres in life”. Different month, different taxi. I ask to get off by KFC. The driver drives past. I protest. The driver responds “Hey, iz my taxi neh, I will decide. You pipol don’t mos belong here”.

Different month, different taxi. The 4 sitter seat I’m in has 3 small sized black people. The one in front has 3 large coloured people. A huge coloured lady comes. She’s directed to sit with us as there’s more space. “Haa aah, its fine, I’ll squash, as long as I’m sitting next to coloureds”. I could go on with this. What seems to have happened is that SOME coloured people still believe in the status quo they were given by the apartheid system that placed them above black people. You almost don’t exist to some coloured people. A historical nuisance at best.

Black vs Xhosa
This one takes the cake. From the time I was a student, experiencing SOME Xhosa peoples’ disdain for anything not Xhosa was amazing. “You Joburg boys are sissies. Where we come from when you want meat you kill a cow or goat”, said one res mate of mine. With machismo and bravado you get told how only Xhosa men are real men, something to do with a mountain. There was once a legendary battle in our residence around 2005. People nearly died in a fight involving bread knives, pots and any other appliance that could be picked up. The cause of the fight? A group of Xhosa guys wanted to prove to everyone that they “controlled” the place simply because they were Xhosa.

I was walking in town one time and an elderly man came and asked me for directions. I wasn’t that fluent in isiXhosa so I responded in isiZulu. He stopped me mid-sentence. He didn’t want my directions because I was not Xhosa. Someone close to me once went to a KFC loo. The door was closed and she asked a lady sitting close to the toilet if there was anyone inside. The lady just stared at her. My friend eventually went into the toilet. As she came out and walked past, the lady remarked, “you are black, why do you speak English to me? Why don’t you speak isiXhosa?”. My friend wasn’t Xhosa.

Again, I could go on with these stories. Things I’ve never experienced anywhere else in the country. 95% of all my friends and acquaintances are not Cape Townian. Hit the streets at night and most people you bump into are not from here. In spite of these, I have Xhosa, Coloured and white friends who’ve come to matter to me at some point of my life.

So, is Cape Town racist? According to me, no. It has some other racial, cultural, traditional fecal mix I’ve never seen before. Here, you are either white, coloured or Xhosa. Cape Town is not racist. Cape Town is f*d up!

 

Writer: Vus Ngxande    Photographer: Tumblr

  • Fredino

    Your exaggerated use of, what you probably perceive as, a typically so-called:”coloured” accent is quite easily one of the most racist and demeaning posts Ive encountered on the web. Cape Town doesn’t afford “whites” the opportunity to not give a sh*t about race, as you so articulately stated; their financial status, garnered under Apartheid allows for that, i.e. they have the means to exclude themselves from the larger, poorer, black majority. Often after they’ve made a brief pit stop at the cultural swap-meet and exchanged the necessary pleasantries to afford themselves another black Facebook friend request (‘cos they’re so cool bru!). This was a child’s interpretation of a monumentally complex issue, you’d probably be better off not venturing down this road again.

btt