Cape Town culture today
Apart from the established Cape Town Southern and Northern Suburbs communities whose origins largely stem from European occupation and later immigration, the modern Cape Town of today is a mix of many traditional cultures and influences from around the world.
The indigenous Afrikaans speaking 'coloured' community predominantly occupy the so-called Cape Flats region where they were relocated by the Afrikaner led Apartheid government.
Closer to the city a traditional Malay community of Muslim culture, descendants of 18th century artisans, tradesmen and fishermen, live in the Bo Kaap area which has retained its character despite the resale and upmarket transformation of properties at inflated prices.
Since the Apartheid institution of influx control was scrapped in 1986, people from the Eastern Cape and other rural areas, as well as immigrants from other African countries have been flocking to Cape Town in search of work and a better life. 'Informal' settlements have mushroomed along the Airport highway, on the fringes of affluent areas and on all available land. Local government has been hard pressed to keep pace with this expansion, and problems often arise due to overcrowding, floods and shack fires.The so-called N2 Gateway housing project has been long in the planning and was finally kicked off by a devastating shack fire. The project was intended to eventually replace all shack settlements in allocated areas, especially along the airport road which has become something of an eye opener for visitors. As such it will supposedly cater to the needs of recent migrants as well as thousands of impoverished residents.
Cape Town Culture
Although housing and basic services have been promised to all, it remains to be seen how long this will take to implement. Local authorities have committed to a housing plan but they have to deal with the fact that thousands of people are migrating to the Cape Town area from other regions, as well as make provision for impoverished local residents.
Interim housing of one sort or another has to be provided to the homeless while building is taking place, and available land is still being sought for this process.
The first phase of the N2 Gateway project was completed in March 2006 with about 750 apartments standing vacant while authorities wrangled over who was eligible to rent them. They certainly were not provided at no charge. Tenants were finally allocated but would not move in to the apartments due to fear of repercussions from disgruntled squatters and shack dwellers. Red tape and legal problems, as well as angry protests by local people on long housing waiting lists are making the process difficult to implement without an element of favouritism appearing to creep in.
Cape Town Culture
Cape Town is home to thousands of immigrants - many illegal and destitute, from neighbouring African countries such as Zimbabwe, Angola, Nigeria and Mozambique. This varied mix of Cape Town culture and lifestyle contrasts against an upmarket self indulgency among many of the Cape suburbs wealthy, and creates obvious divisions between classes.
Beneath the Surface
One of the major problems facing the local government in the Cape since the onset of the new democracy in South Africa is a legacy of low social standing within the Cape Flats communities.
Limited education, unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse has affected many, resulting in ongoing social problems, an eroding of moral values and a search for identity among the youth. This has led to the formation of gang culture and associated problems such as drug peddling, prostitution and crime. Street children and vagrants roam the city streets, antisocial behaviour is rife, and crime and violence has reached an unacceptable level.
On the positive side Various NGOs and international aid agencies work alongside local organisations to address these social problems, and when communities are in need of assistance following fire or floods, emergency services are quick to respond, along with the residents of Cape Town, who assist with clothing and food.
The various social issues in the Cape are not unique and similar problems exist in many other countries around the world. Our unique Cape Town culture, scenic beauty and multifaceted history continues to attract many international travellers. There is a burgeoning economy and plenty of opportunities for investment in big business. The tourism industry is carefully managed and continues to grow in leaps and bounds.