Our friend Pete was looking forward to us at the airport. After we’d collected our luggage we drove to his house. The drive across the highway from the Airport to Cape Town was our introduction to the town we’d be calling home for the next 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 came across shanty towns that were erected alongside the highway.
They were a shabby reminder than ten years after gaining independence the contrast between the rich and poor has perhaps worsened. The shacks creating the shanty towns were made of each and every sort of material proven to man – corrugated iron sheets and rusty metal sheets combined with wood, cardboard and wire to form an exceptionally uncomfortable shelter than the usual family called home. Much more appalling was the fact most 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 us 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 neighborhood authority was operating to keep the shanty towns habitable. We saw several shanty towns along the key highways during our remain 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 of about 30 residences. This form of living is popular in South Africa, due to security and reduced overheads. The complexes are 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 usually able to keep pets too, because each house has its private garden. It’s also an ideal way to reside in Africa if one needs traveling or go on holiday – neighbours will keep an eye on the home while you are away. My husband and I were so impressed with in this way of living that the next year we bought into a group complex my then employers were marketing in Harare. When we sold our house in 2003 we reinvested the money in a second cluster home. If one wants to reside in Africa security is vital, and a group home complex offers the very best degree of security for residences.
Pete’s a bachelor, in order 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 great evening. The view from Pete’s house was superb. Somerset West is built on a hill 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 living room, state of the art kitchen and outside laundry/storeroom. He told us he spends nearly all of his time on his verandah or in his garden.