Bo-Kaap Development Approved is the headline of the article that caught my attention, and I can’t say that I have seen this story covered in mainstream media. That in itself adds to my suspicion, that the City Of Cape Town is really trying to sneak this in. The Bo-Kaap, for those of you
not familiar with the name, is the colourful, visually charming area in Cape Town, nestled on the slopes of Signal Hill.
My title for this post should have rather been Bo-Kaap community destruction… The topic is emotional enough, so in the interests of being constructive, I have chosen to go with a community distortion in my title, as opposed to a community destruction.
The Bo-Kaap is an area rich with history and culture with real everyday people living there. It is home and a special place for the people that live there. You may know it for it’s picturesque houses, and cobble stoned streets. Many a traveller has posted these images on Instagram and multiple sites on the internet.
Big words like gentrification are used, to mask the tragedy and abuse at play here, as the continued land grab by the haves is causing rifts in the community. More money buys more property and what was affordable living, right on the edge of the city centre, is becoming less accessible to the lower income groups of people.
Children grow up in these streets, and have ambitions of making it big in
the city, if not the country or the world. An old man will sit on his stoep, watching life go by, wishing well for the community to prosper with his own children and grandchildren owning a bigger piece of the Bo-Kaap. Staying in the area, on the way home from work, his loved ones can still pop in daily to visit him and say hello.
Heritage and culture is not something we should be experiencing at museums and through old wive’s tales. These lofty dreams that developers have, make that the most likely outcome. That is a violation, for those of us whose riches are of the soul (as opposed to simply financial). The only thing I can see this development serve, is the agenda of creating a wedge between the haves and have nots, something the rest of us South Africans are looking to eradicate.
Inclusive growth is not simply political rhetoric. It is what is at the core of making the development of this country and its people the reality many of us wish for. So in a country, where we have yet to correct the sins of the past, where valuable land was taken from people by force, why would the City Of Cape Town approve an action which not only fails to reverse the sins of the past, but actually the action actually magnifies them?