Social Cohesion Projects Are Needed in This Polarised City

Cape Times (South Africa), July 2, 2007 | Go to article overview

Social Cohesion Projects Are Needed in This Polarised City


BYLINE: Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana

I have lived and worked in the four largest South African cities. Cape Town, without a doubt, has been the most difficult to acclimatise to.

I moved to Cape Town in 2001 and, six years later, I am still not feeling quite at home in this city even though I have grown to love its physical beauty and its people.

The one dominant fact for me when I relocated to Cape Town was the surprising realisation that, even though we were well into the new democracy, my skin colour and culture were still the most important arbiters in determining what areas or communities I could claim as mine, or be at home in, in this city.

As a non-Capetonian female African senior manager in a polarised environment, I didn't seem to fit nicely into a pre-conceived category.

This is the plight of many black professionals who relocate to Cape Town. The so-called black middle class struggles to define a home for itself in this city.

Unlike most marginalised Capetonians, members of the middle class have other options available. As they have chosen to relocate to this city, so too can they choose to leave. Most do, opting to go to Johannesburg, Pretoria or Durban.

A friend, who has just resigned from a senior position and decided to relocate to Pretoria, summed up her experience: "You spend your time and energy struggling to be valid and not just free to be, because the environment is blind to your professional existence, but pathological about the sight and presence of you in their midst".

This is a tragedy as polarisation in Cape Town is not only along racial lines, but is also defined along class lines. Creation of a mixed middle class of all races is critical.

Cape Town is a complex city.

A city which can never be defined through a single lens. It is a city that is clearly caught in a perpetual struggle to find an identity embracing its diverse population.

Cape Town is a city characterised by geographic and cultural polarisation, racism and xenophobia.

It is critical to move beyond stereotyping Cape Town in broad categories and seek to unearth the nuances that lie beneath its racism, polarisation and xenophobia.

Is Cape Town an African city?

This question has been asked many times in this debate. I think we should rather ask: as a city on the African continent located in South Africa, what kind of African city is Cape Town striving to become?

Does it seek to offer all its residents a sense of ownership and belonging, recognising all aspects of its history; centuries of colonialism, slavery, apartheid dispossession and the triumph of the new democracy?

Cape Town, like most South African cities, has to confront the past, constructively and honestly.

Capetonians must find tools that will help surface the "ghost voices". These are those deep-seated feelings of hurt, alienation and dispossession that are usually very difficult to express, yet are central in determining how we act and relate to others.

Capetonians must find constructive ways of talking openly and debating the shattering impact of 300 years of colonialism and slavery; the impact of the savage apartheid machinery, including the distortion of identity which is the legacy of the coloured labour preference and the influx control policies.

We need to examine the impact of this past on the relationship specifically between African and coloured communities. It is undeniable the Langa community is as unconnected to Llandudno as to Bonteheuwel, its neighbour. Unbridled hostility exists within and between the two groups.

The lack of confidence or the extreme reluctance exhibited by coloured and African Capetonians in boldly claiming the city as their own is deeply rooted in this past.

The white communities seem to be content with the status quo. It is said that it is human nature not to identify with problems where we are the cause of marginalisation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Social Cohesion Projects Are Needed in This Polarised City
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.