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Postcards from the edgy

Cape Town, July 19 2021

I don’t know if you saw that South Africa survived an attempted coup last week. Not many people are saying coup though it is obvious to me that it was one.

Hectic week. My mum was pretty close to it, the nature reserve alongside their complex was set alight, their local grocery store was ransacked. It was scary and destabilizing.

For white South Africans of a certain age there was a bit of a sense of inevitability to it … a reckoning that we have been waiting for.

 We often talk about the excitement of 1994 and those queues to vote and the sense that we were a magical rainbow nation with Madiba in charge. We jumped on the ferry to the New South Africa but the ferryman never came to collect his due. It is like climate change, in a way, we know there is a big debt to be paid one day (and that we cannot afford to pay it) …

We all know that our so-called democracy will be on very shaky ground as long as we all sit in our homes on the hill drinking white wine spritzers and planning home renovations and holidays overseas while the majority of our countrymen live bleak and brutal lives in the townships. Pass the wine please …

As the dust seems to be settling on this scary period of violence and looting (apparently ignited by Jacob Zuma’s arrest) people are reflecting on a terrible week, the “worst since the 90s” some are saying. That feels true from where I sit, but it was probably just be another bleak and brutal week for most South Africans.

The taxi violence continues unabated in Cape Town. Our cleaner was forced to walk to the nearest “coloured township” in her efforts to get to town this morning (there have been no taxis servicing her own neighbourhood for the better part of two weeks now). But she turned back in a hurry and made the long walk home feeling defeated and powerless after shooting erupted at the taxi rank.

Was last week harder for her? I don’t think so.

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