Walking Around Cape Town

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Portrait of Table Mountain, with my friend Kevin

My trip to a certain place isn’t complete without walking randomly and stumbling upon interesting things. Cape Town is known as the Mother City among South Africans.

October wind here is a bit cool especially for a person who spent most of the time in a tropical country like me. This is especially true at night. A light jacket is appropriate at night but temperature in the morning can be hot.

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I have interesting observations of Cape Town. This city isn’t like the “typical Africa” portrayed by the media. Perhaps there are more places in South Africa and in the African continent in general which physically are modern citites. I mean modern in the sense that this city is comparable with Western cities. This city isn’t the typical Africa for another reason that I have seen more whites than blacks while walking around.

I unconsciously exerting effort to question myself why there are more whites than black. My friend Kevin who is American and have been living here told me that Cape Town is a white city. I glanced at the cars passing by and the drivers are all white. It is quite amazing to me being in Africa and seeing white people, and they are South Africans.

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In South Africa, there are three major races: the blacks, whites, and the colored. Yes, there are colored people here. But no, you won’t see blue and red people walking around. They are colored in the sense that they have a combination of Asian and Latino features. This is very interesting for me as I have never encountered such a race.

So there you go, Africa isn’t about blacks only. There are whites and colored too. Another observation is that these three races don’t mingle much. Walking around the city, I hardly noticed groups of people with different races. Blacks are with blacks, whites are with whites, and guess what, red people with blue people. Yeah, the point is that most people are still confined with their own race.

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A piece of Berlin Wall was donated to South Africa

Another observation is that most blacks are working as waiters in restaurants, sales personnel in department stores, taxi drivers, and so on. I particularly noticed at several occasions that coffee shops’ staff are blacks while all the customers are whites. This gave me a signal that whites remain “superior” in South Africa despite the end of apartheid more than two decades ago.

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This led to a conversation with Kevin’s friend who is South African and told me about the Black Economic Empowerment which is basically a law that requires companies to hire a certain percentage of black people. Failure to comply would result in paying more corporate taxes. There is a lot of debate in that it’s a form of discrimination against the whites to a large extent and to the coloreds as well. I guess I have to leave that it issue there, but that is a very interesting thing I learned in South Africa.

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While walking, there were many thoughts which came to my mind. Are white South Africans do really feel that they are full blooded South Africans? Yes, there a lots of them in this city but I still wonder why there is so little interaction between them. My observations are limited to what I saw on the streets but I suspect that it’s a good representation of the reality in South African society.

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I can only guess and wonder. Though I have to admit that Cape Town is a beautiful city. If I was blindfolded and was brought here unconsciously, I would guess that I’m in Europe or somewhere in the United States or Canada, or perhaps in Australia or New Zealand. This is a modern city. I like it very much and would grab every opportunity to come back.

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