Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: Cape Town (Page 1 of 7)

About that Land thing

I eavesdropped on a casual conversation between two white Woodstock residents who were ignoring their dogs’ poo in the park. They were ‘ventilating’ the notion of social and affordable housing in Woodstock and they were kinda whinging about why Woodstock had to ‘get social housing’. ‘Why them, where they live and have recently spent a total and absolute fortune on their newly revamped old Victorians or built from scratch mixed development apartments?’ is what I think they were getting at. And I thought about the people, mainly tenants, who had had to make way for these revamps, and those who had been evicted to make way for the snazzy developments that show only white people in their artists’ impressions. What interested me more than their ignorance and short memories was that they saw absolutely no irony in the fact that Woodstock had been a social housing and affordable option up until they had moved here.

I got home in a prickle. I couldn’t get their voices out of my mind. I also kept seeing the smile on Brett Herron‘s face as he handed keys to a resident of a social house in the, to use his words, Bo-Kaap facaded, development in the arse end of the world, Fisantekraal. He was so proud. Fisantekraal. In the photo of the Bo-Kaap facaded houses Table Mountain looks tiny because it is so far away.

Brett Herron is in charge of transport and housing in the city. Brett Herron lives in Newlands. Brett Herron has explained to Reclaim the City that the only place evictees of Woodstock can be temporarily housed is Wolwerivier (not Blikkiesdorp anymore because it is even more terrible and isolated than Wolwerivier).

People in the wealthy suburbs of Cape Town have made it abundantly clear that social or affordable housing schemes are not welcome in their ‘hoods. Their main argument is that it will bring down the value of their property. Well, folks, your property became valuable because poor people were either forced out or were never allowed in. The birth of townships like Imizamo Yethu is a perfect example of poor people having nowhere to live or transport to get to work for the rich in suburbs like Hout Bay.

No apartheid campaign was as successful as the forced removal of communities, and the destruction of homes, history, livelihood, stories, culture, families, livelihoods and access. Nothing deserves our attention more than redressing this. And yet, it gets a band aid, photo opportunity, pretend solution of Fisantekraal. It also provides the worst possible excuse for those who do not want affordable housing anywhere near their unaffordable housing.

What I don’t understand even a little bit is why these rich snobs of the fancy suburbs are even allowed to voice these concerns. Why is there any delay in identifying land, and building on it right now? Why is this not happening in Maiden’s Cove, Sea Point, Constantia, Hout Bay, the CBD, Milnerton, Pinelands, Rondebosch, Claremont (where people were forcibly removed), District Six (where people live in holes in the ground), Simonstown, and on any single tiny patch of land owned by the city of Cape Town?

Every (white) one is hysterical about land expropriation without compensation in theory, but these same people are clinging to a notion that they can spout ‘property values’ and not be racist and complicit in perpetuating the radical spatial and geographic apartheid of this city. And the city of Cape Town is complicit and active in perpetuating this too.

 

 

Water Tariff Middle Finger

This is an open letter to the City of Cape Town and local government.

Dear CoCT and all involved in the design and rollout of the new water tariff hike,

I want you to know that I have just done something radical. I have had my first five minute shower since September. I did not save one drop of grey water to use elsewhere. I know it is immature, but I needed to wash the unbelievably bitter taste out of my mouth and the itchy skin crawls off my bone dry body.

See, I have taken this drought very damn seriously. Our first attempts were haphazard and experimental, but now our water saving is totally on track. Our household has been consistent in using under 50l of water per person per day pretty much from the day the last severe water restrictions were announced. Our bath is filled with grey water for flushing, our pot garden is virtually dead, our stoep is covered in building dust and highway pollution but cannot be washed, our car sees water only when it rains and we have spent a fortune on drinking water for ourselves and our animals.

I must also state up front that I was, against the tide, in support of the scuppered water price hikes that would have seen home owners pay more for water based on the size and value of their property. I was so annoyed that the rich and privileged showed their ignorant and whining voices when this came up, and that it was these voices that won.

As punishment, your new sliding scale targets two kinds of people. 1. Those of us who have taken restrictions seriously. 2. The poor. No matter how I look at it, those who use the least amount of water will pay the highest prices. High users pay less. The more you use the less you pay. Am I missing something here?

In every way you favour the rich and powerful in our city and give the middle finger to the poor. And I am gatvol. Sies. Clean up your act.

The Privilege of Water

I am sitting on the couch with wet hair dripping onto my shoulders after the longest shower to wash sea salt and sand off my body after a vigorous swim in the Indian Ocean.

It’s the final day of a week-long holiday for us. We were invited by my family to join them for a week at timeshare in Umhlanga, and mostly it has been a break from the devastating reality of the drought in Cape Town. We left our animals and house in the care of a house sitter who had to negotiate our makeshift grey water storage in the bathtub for toilet flushing, a courtyard full of plants clinging to life with only dishwater to sustain them and boxes of bought water for human and animal consumption.

We left Cape Town but took the paranoia and panic with us, and it has slowly crept up the scale again today, as we think about our return home tomorrow. Never before have I considered so deeply my privilege. I have had a week of proper escape from my real life. There are working taps on pathways for holidaymakers to wash their sandy feet. There are working fresh water showers on the beach. Our resort towels may be exchanged for fresh ones whenever we want to, and if we leave shower towels on the floor that means we want fresh ones. Drinks are served with tons of ice. Lawns around us are watered. I heard the forgotten sound of sprinklers watering the plants on the promenade.

Whenever anyone finds out that we are from Cape Town they start talking about the drought. Holiday makers from inland (Jozi and Pretoria mainly) tell stories of friends and family who visited Cape Town in December and who were shocked by the severity of the drought. Cape Town’s status as a ‘premier destination’ has taken a huge knock, and the general opinion is that huge events like the cycle tour should be cancelled because of the strain they place on water usage. My Jozi friends are part of water collection drives, and I am moved when I get whatsapp updates about water being sent to animal shelters.

I am turning my head to what I return to tomorrow. I haven’t been online much, but every time I have stuck my nose onto Facebum I have seen friends posting about water fights at Newlands, shelves at shops being empty, hand sanitiser and wet wipes being sold out, and tips for further reducing consumption. I am frightened, and it is the fear of both what we have done, what we have ignored, and how we honestly believed it could never happen.

 

Noah of Cape Town, A prophecy of Drought

In 2003 Graham Weir and I sat down to turn an idea for a story into a fully fledged, futuristic accapella musical, set in Cape Town in the near future. It took us two years to finish the writing and get something of Noah of Cape Town onto stage. This took the form of a cantata version as part of Artscape’s New Writing Programme. In the cantata in 2005, Noah of Cape Town was set in 2012. It described Cape Town as an arid landscape where water was so scarce what little of it had to be guarded by the military. Politicians were involved in hideous water scandals and the city had ground to a halt. There was an illegal black market for water. When we started fleshing the thing out once Simon Cooper had agreed to produce the full version we shifted the timeline and set it in 2020 because 2012 was too close.

The full, amazing premier of Noah of Cape Town took place in August of 2009, almost 9 years ago. As I write this we are 3 months away from Day Zero. The day our taps will be switched off and we will have to queue for 25l of water. The Cape Town we warned about in a fantastic, futuristic, dystopian ‘what if?’ has arrived.

We didn’t pull the theme out of thin air. We were worried about Cape Town and water scarcity. We saw what was happening with the migration of people to the city, refugees from the North, the expansion of Cape Town, the corruption of politicians and officials. We knew there was going to be a water crisis. And we knew this in 2003.

We cannot have been the only ones.

 

Room with a View

I was away for the weekend, on a beautiful, celebratory trip for a friend’s 50th. We were in the Drakensberg, at a spot I have never been to before. It was also a group of 11 women, which is something I have never done before, and it was magnificent.

One of the most special parts of the space/place was the view from my bed out through huge windows over a special part of the dam. I saw the sun set behind the hills, and I woke to the morning star reflected in the water. I saw the pink sunrise turn orange and then pale yellow as Crowned Cranes fought with Plovers for the island. I heard and saw the massive Spurwing Goose, swim, dive and even take flight, and I watched the zebra from my front door. I had a live-and-let-live agreement with the family of rock pigeons sharing my balcony and even stopped frightening the two stodgy adolescents of the group. And I saw the elusive and much spoken about but hardly seen otter, twice. It was a room with a view. A whole new world for me.

When I came home late last night Big Friendly caught me up with what had happened while I was away, and one of the things we chatted about was that he had seen my brother, who was visiting Cape Town while I was away. He mentioned how my brother had said that if he hadn’t heard, from us, that there was a serious drought in Cape Town he would never have known. And when Big Friendly’s sister was here for a few weeks, she saw no sign of water awareness at her Waterfront hotel either. And this is really problematic for me. It means that visitors to our city have no idea of the extent of the problem, and are not prompted to do anything about it. It’s true. There is nothing about the drought at the airport, or in hotel literature, or in public bathrooms. There is nothing about it in the B&B’s and they are not telling their guests. We can do better Cape Town. We have to.

Improv for Actors

Dear Cape Town actors, I am seriously considering running once a week masterclasses in improv, specifically for actors, but I need to ask you outright whether you would come, and whether you would make it a regular thing? Is this something you think you need, or would benefit from?

My vision is that we would work in monthly modules. For example, we would do four sessions on being present, four sessions on improvising a character and character work, four sessions on status and relationships, and so on, pretty much ad infinitum.

I am also open to the possibility of focussing on what you as actors need from these sessions. I know that there is always a request for improv as an audition tool.

Improv is my big love, and I have seen how it has helped me, both on and off stage. Aside from the delight of performing improv, I also adore sharing the love as a facilitator and improv teacher.

Who is keen? Be honest here, is there a need? Would you come? Should I find a venue and propose a time? I would try and make attendance at these classes really cheap and accessible, so what would be an affordable price? What would be a good day (or evening, or morning)? How much would you spend on weekly classes? How long should a class be?

I would love to get your feedback before I source a venue and put in the work. Let me know by sending me your contact details in an email at megan@improvision.co.za

 

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