The night market that has been part of the City of Cape Town calendar for many years is in decline.
On Monday at around 6pm my family and I visited the night market which had shifted to the Company Gardens some years ago. As born and bred Capetonians we love supporting small local business and enjoy the opportunity to meet friends and family that we may not have seen for some time. The night market was always a place to meet and greet and snack and eat all at the same time.
The night market was uniquely Capetonian as it had a spirit that was reflected in the sociable atmosphere. The rhythm of the city was reflected in the music and aromas that filled the late afternoon and early evening. The night market was special because of the many characters and personalities among the traders as trading and bargaining was part of the experience.
At the bottom of the Gardens you could buy underwear and at the top of the gardens you could buy crayfish curry. The rivalry among traders were positive as the range of gourmet and simple savouries and eatables made those few days in December memorable as Capetonians and foreigners from diverse cultures interacted and engaged with each other in a genuine multicultural experience.
In some way the spirit of the market has changed and is in fact dying. From what I know, the City of Cape Town spends lots of ratepayer’s money funding the market, yet something vital is missing.
Speaking to many traders on my recent visit, I learnt that for some years now, the organisation of the market has been in disarray, badly managed and promoted. That the market was reduced to just a few days and a few hours to the end December reflects the sad situation and the bad planning.
What I witnessed, the market this year, could easily have had a third less stalls to previous years. Ironically the relaxed hustle and bustle was gone and so were the many, many Halaal stores of earlier years. The family who sold ice cream banana splits and fruit salad was absent. The basic staple of Cape Town which is Malay styled pies, samosas and spring rolls were absent. How can you have an event in the city centre and have nobody selling koeksisters, where were the traders?
Had I not called three weeks ago on behalf of a local resident to inquire from a senior official about trading on the market, I would not have known that the process of allocating stalls had not yet started.
Since I know Cllr Gareth Bloor the executive Cllr to be hard working in his portfolio with regards to small business progress, I suggest he investigate, why the city is being shamed by the ineptitude.
Questions to be answered include: Who was responsible for placement of the stall holders and how many applications were received and how many were rejected? Also, why was the process so late and who was liable for the delay and why was the market limited to so few days? What happened to the toilets and lighting that was available years before? Why was the advertising so poor and why was the farmers market so small and expensive? Where was all the children’s fun of years before?
Cllr Yagyah Adams
Cape Muslim Congress