The Nightmare of Paradise:

The brochure:

The breathtaking views of Cape Town when you’re standing on Signal Hill certainly makes you rethink your belief in God. The unspoilt beaches along the “millionaires mile” in Camps Bay and Bantry Bay gives you an insight, a glimpse into a slice of Paradise, that even Hollywood couldn’t rival.

There are nightclubs to attend if you choose to glam up and “be seen.”

Table Mountain looming over Cape Town feels as if it’s protecting you from the harsh elements of nature. Everywhere you look as you travel along the coast seems better than before. 

Inland there are the Winelands that boasts international recognition, and spending a day at one of these, makes you forget your troubles as you bask in the sunlight. The drive around Chapmans Peak, a road carved out of the mountain, allows you impressive views of the mountain above and the deep, blue ocean below. While you are casually driving, you may come across some baboons, which somehow lends credence to the “unspoiled” look and feel of Cape Town. The streets are clean, and people are welcoming and friendly. 

After being on holiday, you are reluctant to leave, and many international tourists don’t: they simply convert their currency and snap up one of the many homes for sale. Cape Town as a holiday destination is accessible to wealthy people and those travelling on a shoestring budget.

The reality:

Whether you flew economy, business class or arrived in a private jet at Cape Town International Airport, to get to the places mentioned above, you would have to drive past what tour guides will no doubt refer to as “the slums,” aka the Cape Flats. Home to millions of Black and Brown people. Poverty is rife, and people barely exist on just under a dollar a day, according to Stats SA.

You would see the densely populated areas mostly comprised of shacks (tin homes) and or “matchbox” houses built for those who were not white during the Apartheid era. You would probably be told about the gangsterism problem as if all households on the Cape Flats have family members who are gangsters. Then, of course, you would be privy to the methamphetamine (tik) drug problem that has spread like wildfire and hardly left any family unscathed.

You could be told as your tour guide quickly whisks you away from the poverty-stricken areas that “those people” are suffering because of the ruling party’s corruption. Finally, you will be told that Black and Brown people are dangerous and they are lazy.

In a first receiver believer world, we live in, you would believe them and remind yourself to steer clear of “those” types of people.

What they fail to tell you:

Your tour guide fails dismally at informing you that systemic and structural racism is still very much at play in the city of Cape Town.

Your tour guide fails to mention that unlike what the Germans did to the Jewish people after Hitler, reparations have not happened here after ’94.

Some homes that are primarily owned and occupied by white people belonged to the indigenous people of the Cape, yet nothing has been done to right the wrongs.

Your tour guide will not tell you that most employed people of colour are not only earning less than their white counterparts but are paid less nationally. 

The slave mentality is what keeps the rich in comfort.

Your tour guide will also fail to mention that for years the ruling party in the Western Cape, have “underspent” on their housing budget! In other words, they were given money to build low-cost housing but failed to do so.

Your tour guide will show you places like affluent Constantia but will fail to mention that Brown people aka, “Coloureds,” lived there and have to date,  not received either their land back or been compensated for it.

Let your tour guide tell you about the history of the Cape, not the sanitized version.

Ask your tour guide to take you around the wine route and discover not only how great the wines are but how little most farmworkers get paid and their often horrific stories of abuse at the hands of the farm owner.

I could go on…

Crime increases in any place where poverty is rife. People will fight each other for the breadcrumbs falling off the “Masters” table. Add in some undocumented foreigners who will work for less than their South African counterparts, and you have a recipe for disaster.

So, next time you are visiting Cape Town and fine dining, ask yourself at whose expense and who is benefiting from tourism because it’s not ordinary Black and Brown people who live there.

The nightmare in Paradise is hidden under glamorous plasters and billboards. You only have to look a bit harder.