Thursday, April 5, 2018

My Last Thoughts on Cape Town

Lion's Head (background) and Cape Town (below)
shot by Paul Cook from Table Mountain
I erased my original posts and thoughts about Cape Town and wanted to share more of my thoughts and feelings about South Africa. Yes, I did the touristy things, such as Lion's Head and Table Mountain and the Victoria and Albert Waterfront and the aquarium there. But, that wouldn't capture my impressions of Cape Town and South Africa. My final thoughts is that South Africa is in a bad shape. The social fabric of trust has completely rotted in South Africa. No one trusts anyone.

View of Cape Town from Lion's Head
One thing I did that was special and not listed in any of the tour books (not in the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide), is that I sat in a session of parliament. It's free and worth doing in Cape Town, as my hostel was nearby. The entire session was a like a circus. The minority parties were arguing with the ANC, and the ANC acted like it didn't matter what legitimate complaints existed, they were in charge. So, why should they listen?

Most of the houses are surrounded by electric wires to keep thieves out. I met a pair of South Africans, who were robbed at gun point in their gated community. Every place, like restaurants and bars, have a big iron gate in front of it. You have to be buzzed in a lot of times. 

It's the small things that get to you. Like, nobody hands the waiter their credit card.
A shark at the aquarium
at the V&A Waterfront
Instead, the waiter brings the machine to you, or you walk to the front counter with the credit card. This is because credit card fraud was rampant at one point.

Talking about the small things getting to you. I also don't like how when I hitchhiked here, people look at you like your crazy. I still got picked up, and the guy said, "Man! You're crazy. Nobody will pick you up."

And I said, "Well, you did."

"Consider yourself lucky and get yourself a taxi next time."

"Why won't they pick me up?"

"Because, no one will trust you. Everyone thinks everyone else is a criminal."

Over breakfast today, the nephew of my host said that a
hitchhiking passenger killed a driver recently. Not good. Like I said, it appears that the social fabric of trust in South Africa
The Butcher by Jane Alexander
Featured in the National Gallery
(These are the creatures Apartheid created.)
has deteriorated, at least towards the stranger, to the foreigner, to the unknown person. In my view, the concept of Good Samaritan has been lost. 

What that means for an entire nation, who knows? According to Jacques Pauw of South Africa, he says that South African untouchables "are unemployed for life. Exports are falling, commodity prices are falling, growth rate forecasts are falling, business confidence is falling. We have become world leaders in income inequality, racial tension, rape and illicit financial outflows." I don't recommend investing in South Africa, sadly. I'm sure the future will only tell us more.

On the theme of investments, there was a day I learned about diamonds at the museum. It was so commercial, I won't even bother telling you which diamond museum I went to. Did you
Cartoon at the National Gallery
Doesn't it remind you of Baldwin Park too and
their refusal to give up records?
know that a man-made diamond is exactly the same as a natural one? You can't tell the difference. 

I asked my guide, "Well, what if De Beers started making
artificial diamonds and putting them into their trade?"

She said, "They wouldn't do that."
"But if they did, nobody would be able to know. You just explained that to me."

Nothing was said after that.

Sunset of Cape Town from Table Mountain
All in all, I've decided I'm not going to buy a diamond. It's a dirty trade to put your money into. The pursuit of diamonds have caused the death of so many blacks and Boers alike. No matter what De Beers says, all South African diamonds are blood diamonds.

Final political thought. The big stir here is whether former President Jacob Zuma will be convicted of his crimes, which are so well documented. It's kind of the same problem in Baldwin Park - how does Mayor Lozano and his men continue to engage in corruption without prosecution. In fact, it's becoming more and more blatant and overt.

Not good at all. It appears that accountability and prosecution of government officials and administrators is a global problem. I'm convinced we've come to a point in time, where, we as a human race need to figure out how to prosecute those who govern us. Currently, South Africa has shown me that the checks and balance system is clearly not working but hasn't shown me how to make it work. 

One thing that I haven't mentioned about Cape Town is the beautiful coffee and food and ice cream I had. I'll post on that separately, as I think it should have it's own article.

So besides meeting "interesting" people and some good people, eating good food and drink, and seeing a country in one big mess, I think I can say I have a good feel for Cape Town. 

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