Our friend Pete was looking forward to us at the airport. After we’d collected our luggage we drove to his house. The drive over the highway from the Airport to Cape Town was our introduction to the city we’d be calling home for the following ten days. The highway was in excellent condition, and ran through areas of scrub that flowed away the verges of the road towards distant mountains. However ten minutes later we came across shanty towns that had been erected alongside the highway.
These were a poor reminder than 10 years after gaining independence the contrast involving the rich and poor has perhaps worsened. The shacks getting back together the shanty towns were made of each type of material recognized to man – corrugated iron sheets and rusty metal sheets coupled with wood, cardboard and wire to create an exceptionally uncomfortable shelter when compared to a family called home. Much 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 help 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 local authority was operating to keep the shanty towns habitable. We saw a number of shanty towns along the key highways during our stay static in Cape Town.
Pete lives in a suburb called Somerset West, and his home was a practical and extremely modern cluster home in a compound of approximately 30 residences. This kind of living is highly popular in South Africa, as a result of security and reduced overheads. The complexes are perfectly maintained because each owner contributes towards the upkeep and maintenance of the complex. Some complexes offer communal playgrounds for all your resident children, tennis courts and swimming pools. Owners are usually able to help keep pets too, because each house has its private garden. It’s also a perfect way to reside in Africa if one needs traveling or go on holiday – neighbours will watch on the home when you are away. My husband and I were so impressed with in this way of living that the following year we bought into a bunch complex my then employers were marketing in Harare. When we sold the house in 2003 we reinvested the money in a second cluster home. If one wants to reside in Africa security is essential, and a bunch home complex offers the very best degree 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 simply help with the cooking, and we had an excellent evening. The view from Pete’s house was superb. Somerset West is built on a mountain overlooking the city, 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 big living 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.