If you haven’t been to Cape Town, get here. It’s a wonderful city even though “Call Me Maybe” is playing in the restaurant where I’m sitting now. Oh, wait. New song? “Truly, Madly, Deeply” by Savage Garden.
Well, at least you don’t have to hear it. However, sadly, you’re also not having the best lamb I’ve ever had in my life. It’s unbelievable. Springbok, according to the waiter. Apparently, there are more than just sheep out there…and I haven’t even been to New Zealand, yet![By the way, sorry for fewer pictures today. I’m having some trouble uploading them.]
But I digress…
Were some thorough doctor to tell me that I had 6 weeks to live, my first stop would be Table Mountain. I have never seen anything like it. And the people! The residents here have more pride in their city than any group of people I’ve met yet.
The history here is fascinating, too. The Slave Lodge, for example, illustrates the excruciating experiences of the slaves brought here by the Dutch East India Company from India, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Their middle passage was the single largest and unaccounted for loss of human life in human history. Thankfully, the trade was made illegal here in 1807, and slavery was abolished in 1834.
The District 6 Museum tells the story of one neighborhood that was destroyed during Apartheid. During my visit to the museum, I was guided by Tahir Levy [click the link for a video]. Tahir proudly says that he is “coloured,” which means that he descends from the slaves I mentioned a moment ago. The 78-year-old former — and in some ways current — activist wanted to show us the ways he was mistreated.
He told us, by way of example, about his schooling. In order to learn the Queen’s English, he was forced to say – over and over again – “How now brown cow” and “The cat sat on the mat.” A whipping was earned if his vowels weren’t right.
In order to illustrate the humiliation he experienced, he asked an American to raise his hand. Sadly, I was the only one willing to step up to the plate. He asked me to read a newspaper clipping about Apartheid in a British accent. Wasn’t he surprised with my spot-on impression! Only the Scots were offended. They promptly left when I told them that July 4, 1776 was one of the great dates in world history. I should be more courteous.
Tahir did have some…well, they were strange observations. For example, he told us there are 14 million Americans literally standing in bread lines today. And, according to Tahir, “marriage is like a besieged castle. Those on the outside want in. And those on the inside want out.” He also described women as a “dangerous species.” He’s been married for 45 years.
I was fortunate because our dear friend Phillip offered Tahir a ride to his house in the car I’d rented. I was happy for the company. And richly rewarded! Tahir showed us around District 6. Wow! As he was offering his tour, he was responding to people shouting, “Hey Tahir!” Apparently, I was in the presence of a local celebrity.
“Stop here, Phillip. That’s where I lived until they bulldozed it, Jeff.” He said that four times. Four. How many times has my house been bulldozed? The correct answer is none. And yours? Has your house been bulldozed?
We went on to have beers at Phillip’s house. Fortunately, Phillip didn’t have any beer, but he insisted that I have some. I think I have a friend here in this country. And I can’t wait to come back.
From here, I fly 12 hours to Amsterdam. Wait 12 hours there. Then fly about 14 hours to Hong Kong. It’s going to be a long couple of days. And you probably won’t hear from me. Sorry.
Time for me to catch a cab. Keith Urban’s “Kiss a Girl” has just come on. Goodbye Cape Town!