Racial and class integration has never been a South African strong point. The Voortrekkers stands testimony to this reality. Historically since Afrikaners could not tolerate the notion of living under English rule, they packed their bags and trekked in-land. Those who remained or recently returned (terug-trekkers) created a boere- wors curtain along the northern corridor of Cape Town. The English remain in the shadow of the mountain and in the southern suburbs. Coloureds that were strewn across the Cape Flats were tolerated as long as they did not threaten the historic imbalance. Blacks were allocated to a few townships from which they dared not venture.

The Zola squatter relocation brought the history of integration to the fore. That the squatters were relocated to a coloured suburb has resulted in turmoil.

On 18th of October 2012 at the launch of Transport for Cape Town a speaker from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology advised that by 2020 nearly 80% of the world’s populations could be living in cities. How are Capetonians with centuries of racial and class separation going to manage this?

Historically racial separation has been so entrenched that it has become part of our global identity. For example, the British are linked to colonialism, the Americans with imperialism, the Russians with communism, Arabs with religious extremism, Jews with Zionism, and South Africans with racism.

Racism as a political strategy is not unique to South Africa; across ancient and modern Europe, racism has inspired many political renewals. In Greece the right wing Dawn party recently secured 12% of the Greek parliamentary vote, in Germany politicians live in fear of neo Nazi activity. In France the vote achieved by the politically influential Le Pen family has caused a traditionally liberal society to re-evaluate its own values in terms of immigration and what defines a free an open society.

Rapid urbanization implies that locals who have misgivings about racial and class integration should have a tangible fear of what the future holds. Beyond the polemics of racial spacial plans the question remains, are white, black, brown {Muslims, Indians and Coloureds}, poor, middle class and wealthy keen to live in close proximity to each other.

Apartheid not only divided communities along racial patterns but also along income. Although there has been a natural integration in the middle class, the same cannot be said of the poorer areas. Most poor black and brown people continue to exist and operate in separate settlements. As the material conditions of middle class brown and black families improve, many move into former white middle class suburbs. However these evolved multi-cultural suburbs remain limited.

Years ago, with his “Home for All” strategy, Premier Rasool integrated the poor by giving homes to black and brown in Delft. Were the people housed, consulted about integration, I do not know? Do poor brown people prefer to live with other brown people, I suspect so. What is obvious is that race and class integration is difficult. The response to the relocation of squatters from Zola Township into Blackheath was typical. The standard adverse response to the squatters in Kensington, Lansdowne and Bo-kaap, are typical. Middle class brown people do not even want poor brown people near them.

This raises the question, for what historical reasons should poor people be allocated land within middle class suburbs and how, if at all, will this affect Constantia and Bishopscourt.

Cllr Yagyah Adams

Cape Muslim Congress

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