Cape Town’s secret white club

November 28, 2012


November 27, 2012
By Khaya Dlanga

A few months ago I wrote about Cape Town’s professional unfriendliness towards black people. I stated that most black people don’t want to work in Cape Town because they come up against the white ceiling that they cannot go through, which is why any self-respecting aspiring black professional will leave Cape Town for blacker pastures in Joburg.
For there lies opportunity for them. I left the Cape because of the visible ceiling.
I had an interesting conversation with a German friend of mine who has been in Cape Town for the past six months or so.
Before that, she spent four months in Joburg.
First, she gave me the biggest shock of my life when she said she preferred Joburg to Cape Town.
Almost choking on my drink, I turned to her and said: “What? Did you say you prefer Johannesburg to Cape Town but in actual fact you meant you prefer Cape Town to Johannesburg?”
It made no sense that she didn’t like Cape Town. The city is beautiful, and she’s German, she’s supposed to like Cape Town, like the many German tourists who fall in love with the city and never leave.
Even after she assured me that she meant that she would choose Joburg over Cape Town any day, I waited for her to tell me that she was joking.
She gave me a compelling argument. She said she found Cape Town racist.
She said white Capetonians looked at one another as if they were members of a secret club. The White People’s Club.
Strangers made racially biased remarks to her, assuming that she will agree with her simply because she is white. It is something she said she had never experienced anywhere before.
One of the examples she gave me was an experience she had last week while she was shopping at a supermarket.
There was a trainee at the till. The trainee was obviously slow. The trainee explained that he was still new and figuring things out.
But the man in front in the queue turned and looked at my friend and then said: “These people are so slow and stupid and lazy. This can’t be that hard.”
My friend said she got that a lot in Cape Town.
That they are all part of the club where white people can just say things about black people and expect everyone to agree.
If this is the case, then what is it about Capetonians that they think they can get away with that kind of behaviour?
Obviously this is not everyone. All my friend was saying was that if she encountered this kind of behaviour so regularly, it could only mean that a lot of the time people say these things without being aware that they are being racist.
Am I saying Capetonians are racist?
Not at all, but I am saying that Cape Town needs to engage in proper soul-searching before denouncing what my German friend noticed. Outsiders tend to see things in a different light because they are not emotionally invested in the country. I appreciated her perspective on the Mother City because it created a mind shift.
In Joburg, she said, she never felt that she was looked at as if she belonged to this exclusive white club. She finds Joburg more accepting and more patient in letting others grow.
And, oh, one more thing: she said Cape Town was like a fishing village. – The Star Africa
* Khaya Dlanga is a social commentator and author of In My Arrogant Opinion.
Source: Independent Online

3 Responses to “Cape Town’s secret white club”

  1. K Dirker Says:

    Dear Mr. Dlanga,

    I have read some of your other comments & articles published on other online media and possibly magazines and frankly I think you have a huge chip (black chip I might add) on your shoulder (broad based opinion on this article & others authored by you) and the vein always seems to be centered around your racial insecurities / perceptions etc.

    I also live in Cape Town and have moved here from Pretoria 8 years ago and have to strongly disagree with your opinion.

    I have been around Cape Town in various places, at various times of day with varied people and find Cape Town a lot more politically tolerant, cosmopolitan and a lot less racist than for instance your beloved Joburg (where I was born incidentally and spent a large portion of my life and still consider home to a certain extent – I suppose it’s the smog and the sweeping highveld grasslands that’s in my veins).

    Anyway, Cape Town is a different planet than the rest of SA, on it’s own clock and with a life & culture of it’s own.

    I would argue that people should not generalise because of their own personal experiences on a minute scale and then stick a stereo-typical tag on people, places or events and sell it to all and sundry as the God’s honest truth.

    Least of all people with the ear(s) or the eyes of the broad public ie. (ir)responsible journalists like yourself who carefully researched this article by basing it on one person’s opinion which just happens to coincide with your own biased opinion of Cape Town for whatever reason and then still has the audacity to publish it on a worlwide medium like the internet – for me to stumble upon on a business visit to China.

    You remind me of another very public individual, currently a councilor in Cape Town, a certain Mr. Ehrenreich who jumps at every opportunity to cause contoversy by all kinds of public statements and stunts like the “invasion ” and claiming of the Rondebosch common, opportunistic TV appearances etc. uttering all kinds of nonsense – without adding any value.

    Like the proverbial barking fox terrier.

    Put that in your pipe & smoke it.

    And if that doesn’t work – I know some people who knows people, who knows people – that has some greenish stuff that apparently works well in a pipe or bottleneck or any other type of cylindrical container – and they’re in ………………..Cape Town


  2. Maria D Says:

    You are so one sided and moaning again and again, instead of looking forward.

    Everyday white people must endure being badmouthed and degraded by thousands of black people. The sad part is that the whites don’t know it, because they don’t understand the language. In fact often it is thought that these blacks are friendly, but in truth the white people were degraded and sometimes told what nasty things will be done to them. The blacks don’t realise that some whites actually understand their language!

    Racism is rife in the Cape, but contrary to what you say, it’s just the other way round – Black Racism towards whites!


  3. JJ Says:

    Weird. I encountered way more racism in Joburg in my 20+ years there. In 5 years in Cape Town, I have found it to be a lot more cosmopolitan, and its citizens more indifferent to background, both in terms of race and social stance. However, I have encountered some people who attempt to portray Cape Town as racist simply because they are uncomfortable with the idea that it is controlled by the DA, and it seems to be in much better shape than traditional ANC strongholds.

    Nevertheless, I think the number of people who look at, and experience South Africa through racial glasses, are dwindling – they are fast being supplanted by a more sophisticated generation who couldn’t care less about race.


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