Our friend Pete was awaiting us at the airport. After we’d collected our luggage we drove to his house. The drive along the highway from the Airport to Cape Town was our introduction to the town we’d be calling home for another ten days. The highway was in excellent condition, and ran through regions of scrub that flowed away the verges of the trail towards distant mountains. However ten minutes later we discovered shanty towns that had been erected close to the highway.
They certainly were a shabby reminder than a decade after gaining independence the contrast between the rich and poor has perhaps worsened. The shacks getting back together the shanty towns were made of each sort of material known to man – corrugated iron sheets and rusty metal sheets combined with wood, cardboard and wire to form an exceptionally uncomfortable shelter than a family called home. A lot more appalling was the truth that lots of the shanty houses had run wires to the overhead power lines làm mái tôn.This dangerous link was apparently sanctioned by the electricity board – Pete told us that the municipality and the government were failing to keep pace with the demand for houses for the poorer members of society, and preferred to leave the shanty towns intact! A refuse collection service run by the area authority was operating to keep the shanty towns habitable. We saw numerous shanty towns along the main highways during our stay static in Cape Town.
Pete lives in a suburb called Somerset West, and his home was a functional and extremely modern cluster home in a compound around 30 residences. This style of living is extremely popular in South Africa, as a result of security and reduced overheads. The complexes are very well maintained because each owner contributes towards the upkeep and maintenance of the complex. Some complexes offer communal playgrounds for all the resident children, tennis courts and swimming pools. Owners are generally able to keep pets too, because each house has a unique private garden. Additionally it is an ideal way to call home in Africa if one needs traveling or go on holiday – neighbours will watch on your house while you are away. My husband and I were so impressed with this way of living that these year we bought into a bunch complex my then employers were marketing in Harare. When we sold our home in 2003 we reinvested the money in a second cluster home. If one wants to call home in Africa security is very important, and a bunch home complex offers the best level of security for residences.
Pete’s a bachelor, so that night he prepared a barbecue in his Weber braai unit. His girlfriend Pat came round to help with the cooking, and we’d a wonderful evening. The view from Pete’s house was superb. Somerset West is created on a mountain overlooking the town, and the view from his verandah offered the classic Cape Town view – the sprawling city at the foot of majestic Table Mountain, the lighthouse and the Atlantic Ocean. His house had three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large family room, state of the art kitchen and outside laundry/storeroom. He told us he spends most of his time on his verandah or in his garden.Read More