South Africa

Cape Town- beautiful but unequal

Last year, I visited Cape Town for a few days and I found it a splendid city and the most beautiful one I’ve ever been to. However the Guardian had a bleak article about Cape Town, using Desmond Tutu’s celebration of his 80th birthday last week in Cape Town to lament the extreme inequality of that city. It seems a bit harsh, but for sure there is a lot of poverty right outside the city in the vast low-income and shanty neighborhoods that include townships like Gugulethu and Khayelitsha, said to be the biggest township in South Africa with over 1 million people. The city itself is really nice and has a European or San Francisco feel to it, with good museums and scenic places like Table Mountain and the V & A Waterfront. Yet as my tour guide mentioned (and which the article also describes), Cape Town is great for tourists but not for many locals, alluding to the poor, most of whom are blacks or colored. It’s a striking example of the vivid issues and problems that afflict South Africa, and make it such a fascinating country.


2 thoughts on “Cape Town- beautiful but unequal

  1. You comment on the inequality in South Africa as if it is unique to that country. if you travel to South America, the Indian subcontinent, the rest of Africa and Asia and pretty much anywhere….Australian outback with the poverty stricken Aboriginal people in dire 3rd world circumstances ….all these places….the inequality is just as bad. Some first world countries hide the inequality that lurks in dark streets only at night out of sight….and if there is none, it is in the places your cheap clothes come from, just a matter of hours away on a plane. The funny thing re South Africa is that is has always been seen, even during the dark ages of Apartheid, as the land of opportunity for those from countries north of the border. Now there are a million illegal immigrants in South Africa earning money to send north to single parent desperate families. The last government repatriated those souls. Now they take local jobs, but also add to that incredible vibrancy that makes South Africa fabulous.


    1. Thanks your comment on such an old post. In general, I really liked South Africa but the extreme contrast was very apparent and something I had to point out. It is true poverty exists in wealthier countries in the first world, and aboriginal/indigenous communities are very hard hit. However, the question is how large/widespread is the poverty, and the contrast and the scale in South Africa is so much more noticeable. In Canada or UK (I’m not from either of those countries), do they have giant slums with hundreds of thousands of people right outside their major cities?
      But yes, I do note that South Africa is still very much a land of opportunity to many Africans, though on the other hand, there is a flow of South Africans outward to Europe and Australia for a better life.


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