24 February 2010

cape town, south africa's whipping boy...

every so often, there's someone who write a something  about the lack of "racial transformation" in cape town.  after a while, it gets tired and annoying because, well, the black south africans with money are not putting it where their mouth is, and the non-black ones aren't going to put up their money to do it until the black people go first. that's pretty much the real reason. 

in today's episode, we have ryland fisher asking why there are few streets in the cape town city centre named for anti-apartheid figures? of course, there's the normal pro- and anti- cape town crowds have given out their R0.02 about the whole thing. one person actually has a good point in this thread: most central cape town streets are neutrally named -- strand [beach], long, loop, bree [broad], buitenkant [outer bank], buitengracht [outer canal].  riebeeck? not so major. darling? not really.  adderley street is about the only "major" street named for a person in the city center, and even the lower end of that street has its original name of heerengracht. 

granted, there are streets in the city center which are named after prominent afrikaner nationalists: henrik verwoerd, df malan, hans strydom -- but their location in the city center is pretty much reduced to the foreshore -- which is reclaimed land that in reality are basically used for highway on-/off-ramps and parking lots. if you come into cape town via train or most bus routes, you don't even see these streets -- much like most people don't see the streets in the townships named for struggle vets. if you come in via minibus taxi, you do have do deal with oswald parow. but cape town is unique in south africa in that most people do *not* come to the city center via minibus taxi, but by bus and train.

the comments have quickly deteriorated into the normal "cape town is racist" slugfest. this gets really annoying. i really hate defending cape town on this subject. i don't exactly defend cape town, i don't think -- i point out the blinders of the "cape town sucks" crowd in what they say. 

what they want to say is "xhosas aren't well-represented in the heartbeat of cape town." and that's a very true statement. but instead they say "africans" meaning "all black people" and that is very thoroughly wrong. most foreign blacks in cape town live fairly centrally here. as a result, most nights you're more likely to hear yoruba or kimbundu or swahili than you are to hear xhosa or zulu or sesotho.

but of course, foreign black people don't count -- and that is what annoys me about any thread regarding the lack of black "representation" in cape town. 

click on that link and you'll see my comment. cape town [and the country] have much bigger fish to fry rather than the name of a street. someone will ultimately bring up "dignity" and i will pre-emptively respond with "which gives a person more dignity? living on a street named for someone who died in the struggle or working and eating every day?"

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