Mother City a mean mama who refuses to acknowledge her melanin-rich kids

Fred Khumalo Watching You
The writer says his disdain for the city of Cape Town is informed by a number of factors despite his in-laws being proud Capetonians.
The writer says his disdain for the city of Cape Town is informed by a number of factors despite his in-laws being proud Capetonians.
Image: Tony Marshall / EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

Every time I return from a visit to Cape Town, I detect a change in me: in my spirit, in my physical being and in my mental state.

My disdain for the city is informed by a number of factors, none of which relates to the fact that my in-laws are proud Capetonians.

The race question is one of the things that p*** me off about the visdorpie. You go to a restaurant, and you get assigned a waitress who happens to be white.

From the moment you sit down, she treats you like a beggar who shouldn't be there in the first place. When you don't tip her at the end of the ordeal, you're only reinforcing the stereotype: darkies don't tip.

You go to a clothing shop, the white assistant rushes to you, and says: "How may I help you?" You reassure them that you just want to browse, perhaps something might tickle your fancy.

As you move around, you notice that she's tailing you not unlike an amateur sleuth tracking a suspect.

Then a group of white people who smell like a brewery pour into the shop and start pawing clothing items, dropping some of them on the floor. The shop assistant doesn't startle them with the confrontational "May I help you?"

I lived in Cape Town between 1994 and 1995, and I thought the attitude of white Capetonians would have changed with time.

Ironically, the first time I was called a k***** to my face was in Cape Town. The miscreant was not a white person. It was a coloured brother.

He was p****d off that I didn't want to give him a tip after he'd allegedly helped me reverse my car out of a parking. So he called me a k*****. I smiled. Which made him frown in confusion. He'd expected me to be angry. Why give him the satisfaction? Not this k*****.

The Mother City is a mean mama who refuses to acknowledge her melanin-rich children.

Apart from race, the other irritant about the Cape is water. I visit the city quite often, for reasons relating to business, family, etc. It p****s me off when I suddenly realise that, after a hard day at work or at the gym, I cannot take a proper shower, let alone a bath! That's a stinking proposition.

I was reminded of it over the weekend when I visited White River, in Mpumalanga. I was overjoyed that at my hotel there were no water restrictions. So, I took three showers per day to make up for a recent visit to the Cape where I couldn't have a shower.

It's not as if I don't realise that water has always been a scarce resource in the entire country. But the Cape drought has reinforced the message in a rather scary manner.

Thankfully, South Africans find humour even in the direst scenarios. Melusi Tshabalala has just published Melusi's Everyday Zulu, in which he tackles everything from xenophobia to the Cape drought.

About the water crisis, he writes: "Mvula [rain] is related to vula, the isiZulu word for 'open'. It's the skies opening, talking about feelings and crying like a little baby. But nooo, not Cape Town's sky. Cape Town's sky is one crazy mother*^$# - part Xhosa, part gangster, part Afrikaner. The Cape Town sky is not some nkwenkwe [boy]. It's been to the mountain and came back a real man, dammit. And real men don't cry. The Cape Town sky is a Hard Livings, a Sexy Boy and a 28 combined."

As I record this, I am laughing so hard tears are coming out of my eyes. If only a clever Capetonian would come and harvest my tears, to add them to the near-empty reservoirs down there.

We commiserate with our Capetonian friends. Kuzolunga.

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