Cape Town and other 'African' moments

Some top 5 lists from someone in the place dubbed as 'The mother windy city'

These extremely personal perspectives are by no means comprehensive and present only a slice of a multiplicity of slices of a city as diverse as it is fragmented. Cape Town's fraught history is worth diving into in order to fully understand its current place in both the 'developed' country of South Africa but also the rest of Africa (post-coloniality, post-modernism, capitalism and the politics of race and Diaspora included). Playful and perhaps provocative - enjoy this non-Tourist guide.


Image106.jpg - Cape Town by train - just hold onto your bag

Top 5 Boho hangouts
1 – The Woodstock Biscuit Mill, Victoria Road, Salt River *A renovated biscuit mill in the heart of Cape Town’s most ‘edgy’ suburb – Salt River. This area was deeply imbricated in the apartheid segregation acts of the 1960s. It remains beautifully neglected with many of the original inhabitants slowly being ousted from their ‘shabby chic’ homes by up-and-coming Cape Town and foreign trendsters. Feel free to pick up an organic lemonade or some overpriced 100% rye while you’re deciding whether this is ethical or not.
2 – Manna Epicure, Upper Kloof Street – really food from heaven, and the tapas is expectedly expensive.
3 – Neighbourhood bar, Long Street, opposite the legendary Mr Pickwick’s.
4 – Café Ganesh, Trill Road, Observatory, for a ‘real taste of Africa’ meets the alternative hippiness of its Observatory location. The lemon meringue pie is really really worth the slow service.
5 – Clarke’s Books, Long Street. Overpriced but how else would you subsidise the cute canvas bags that your purchases come in?

Top 5 “African” experiences, because Cape Town really is in Africa
1 – Mall parking lot, anywhere in the city, speak to one of the many illegal immigrant or refugee car guards who’ve fled their war torn homes and professions to look after your nice or not so nice car.
2 – Hout Bay, take a drive through this picturesque bubble of a “Republic” as they like to call themselves, and note the interesting architectural contrasts between the first township on your left and the gated community penthouses on your right.
3 – Khayelitsha, Site B, eating fresh vetkooks made by home owners looking after the wellbeing of volunteer house builders as they brave the dangers of the ghetto.
4 – Gugulethu open braais, you’ve got to know someone who knows someone to get you to the newest ‘it’ spot at the heart of Gugulethu for a barbeque that will make you rethink vegetarianism and then say, ‘Naaaa’. Bring a coolbox of your own beers and hope that the police don’t shut it down as it doesn’t really have a liquor licence quite yet.
5 – Go stand at Home Affairs on the docks of downtown Cape Town. This is Africa.

Top 5 New Old Gallery spaces
1 – Michael Stevenson just relocated to the increasingly popular drag for commercial galleries. Also in Salt River, these spaces sit a little uncomfortably with the derilictness of the abandoned and condemned buildings around it. But hey, if you can sell some expensive Guy Tillim’s?
2 – What if the World, Salt River Main Road and off Roeland street, downtown. These two venues come under the bigger project of WhatIfTheWorld started a few years ago by a South African designer and American curator. “Nichey” and “Shichey” are two appropriate words.
3 – Kwa Mlami’s and the Gugulective, Gugulethu. This bar in the middle of a residential street takes visitors by surprise just as they’re contemplating turning around and going back to safety of the suburbs. It sports a bright yellow striped tent out back, home to a little known (outside of the local scene) collective of artists – the Gugulective.
4 – The Goodman Gallery Cape – this legendary institution, mothership Johannesburg, has tried to make it work on the slopes of Lower Woodstock (another name yet again for Salt River)
5 – South African National Gallery, Gardens. Let’s see what happens in 2009 when you take a bunch of middle aged white women and introduce the city’s up and coming black curator contingent with the same low budget afforded the museum twenty years ago.

Top fashionista street culture
Nonsikelelo ‘Lolo’ Veleko started taking pictures of the everyday South African self-made designers in 2002. She took to the streets of Cape Town (as well as a few other cities down South) and found inventive individuals styling, making and wearing their own ensembles. (images by Nonsikelelo Veleko, Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder, 2002-2008)

Top 5 Mobile phone moments – avoid being a Tourist with a capital T, trade toting your over-sized Canon around and capture your stay subversively on your Nokia instead*See following images