(PICTURES EXCLUDED TO AVOID CREATING MORE STEROTYPES)
Capetonians are notoriously cliquey. I was born in Johannesburg where I lived for seven years before moving to Cape Town. When I was 19 I headed for the big bad US of A where I spent a year in Philadelphia, Boston and New York collectively as well as two years in Texas. So, these being my only other points of reference I can safely conclude that yes, Cape Town is cliquey.
While travelling through America I discovered that its people are infinitely more open minded and inclusive when it comes to socializing. We generally stick within our circle of friends and very rarely venture out of our comfort zones.
I interviewed Charles John recently and he offered me an entirely different point of view.
I asked him if he thought Cape Town was cliquey, he replied:
“Yes and no. Yes in the sense that obviously people hang out in cliques, but no in the sense that you can’t really call it cliquey because it’s the nature of human kind to surround ourselves with people similar to us. It’s the process of natural selection. We stay in herds, we need to be around people that in case danger arises that we’re around people that we’re safe with, you know, you don’t want to be around people and 90% of those people run away from their comfort zone, and leave you stranded. So, being in a clique is negative in a social way, but in a human way it’s the most natural thing.”
I agree with what he says, and yes there is this innate human truth that is impossible to ignore, but somehow we take it to another level – especially white people. It’s as if each of our cliques live in separate villages, governed by unconscious social codes.
Cape Town is a lot more segregated than other cities in South Africa. Why is this so? What is it about us that makes us so damn exclusive within our tribes?
/// Why do Inner-City Hipsters never hang out with trance koppe? Why do the Rock-Chic avoid Irie-vibing Hippies like syphilis? Why do Constantia Boytjies spend so much time working on their abs? Why do Brasse vannie Flats never hit Long Street, even though they shmaak white chicks? Why do Southerners rarely venture past the Boerewors Gordyn? ///
“In spite of our social progress over the past 20 years Cape Town remains a culturally divided city. Cultures and even subcultures remain insular and exclusive.” – Wendy Moorcroft
Social and cultural groups remain separate. This applies to all groups: Cultural, ethnic, racial, religious and class. Now, these structures grip the entire world, not only Cape Town. We’ve been conditioned from birth to believe that we’re separate from each other. We’ve created film, media and music which has shaped stereotypes; religions have created vacuums of separation; money has built class structures; our skin colour creates illusions of separateness. These constructions are universal.
So then, it’s got to have something to do with the way Cape Town is laid out – the very mountain, the goddamn seventh wonder of the world which we all adore could just be the thing that has planted an imaginary barrier within our minds.
Segregation is usually always seen as a hindrance to societal advancement, but there is also a flip side to all of this. Creativity at its very core thrives on polarity; it thrives on the perpetual drive to transcend reality. The very fact that we are so cliquey is also a reason for why we’re known as The Creative Capital of the World. Jeez man, I love this city.
I’ll be running a bulldozer through our collective psyche to uncover, once and for all what makes Cape Town clique, and what makes Cape Town tick.
This is a party and everyone’s invited. Take a stab. Take a stance. Wys me. I invite you on my quest to discover what lives Under the Culture.