Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A troll's views on Table Mountain

Let me kick off with a little disclaimer. I love Cape Town, ok. I was born and raised here and I’ve been here all my life – the place is simply awesome. Please don’t go calling my Captonianism into question due to this article because my critiques have nothing to do with being unpatriotic. Anyway, with tirades against Man United, shorts, VitaminWater, hipsters, rugby and the Black Eyed Peas, it’s a wonder why my Capetonianism hasn’t been questioned yet. I firmly believe that I’d be dead now if it wasn’t for my love of dubstep.

There’s a lot of hubbub going on in Cape Town at the moment. Radio stations, bloggers and the media in general have pushed the Capetonian public to vote for Table Mountain as one of the *ahem* NEW 7 Natural Wonders of the World (http://www.votetablemountain.co.za or some shit) and surprise of all surprises, it won! Blow me down. Theoretically, this will do wonders for tourism, giving our economy the firm kick up the backside it needs as the multitudes flock in to see our flat-topped mountain. Awesome.

Don't you just want to puke a rainbow right now?
It must be said though, I am kind of sick of Table Mountain. People come here and sample the city, drive up and down the M3, explore the Winelands, visit the Wine Route and dip their toasty toes into the coast and think erstwhile that that Cape Town is like a budget Monaco – it's got tans, parties, clubs, wine and beaches (spelled differently if you’re a conceited dick from Argentina).

That’s the way we like it, in fact. It’s the image we’re trying sell. Many people, mostly those of a distinctly European upbringing, would live their entire lives in Cape Town believing that it’s the most beautiful place on Earth. Now that isn’t necessarily untrue – there are amazing parts of Cape Town that ooze beauty, French electro house, kisses and a bright orange sun... but that’s about 2% of the city. The rest of it is just misery. And misery, in this case smells like tik.

Too getik. Too getik to quit.
If you want to find a place where the Group Areas Act’s legacy is most evident, come to Cape Town and taste the fruits of that system first hand. The windless, sun-drenched, hilly parts of Cape Town kiss Table Mountain and the grey, windy, flat parts of Cape Town are carefully hidden away – like the plane that hit the Pentagon or Charlie Sheen’s remorse.

Raiden, is that you?
 Come to Cape Town – the tour buses go to like 7 places, leaving out the Cape Flats and the miniscule “dorpies” with awesome Afrikaans names like “Varkstiek”, “Losbroek” or “Holdoring” so prevalent in what we call The Boland (a woeful attempt at renaming in an effort to separate Cape Town from its shame). They also avoid the townships like Khayelitsha, preferring safer places where ornaments made out of wire and beverage tins can be purchased for nominal fees.

"Give me your wire car and I'll give you a colonial legacy."
Now this is probably the first time you’re going to read this from a Cape Town blogger. Cape Town bloggers are generally of the photographic, fashion, e-zine or FHM pervert variety and ironically, they conduct their internet business as though the internet doesn't exist (u mad?). Thus, everything we’re told about Cape Town is a misconception and Table Mountain is that misconception’s mascot.

Mountain Troll.
I can of course appreciate the sentiment behind voting for Cape Town as a world wonder. It’s a Mountain shaped like goddamn Table (a weird trapezoid table) after all – but that’s the other problem I have with voting for it - see Table Mountain was up against REAL natural wonders and not other, if we’re honest, weird shaped objects.

It'd lose that competition quite badly.
I’ll drive my point home like Captain Hashim “Better-Than-Gibbs” Amla. Let’s see what Table Mountain is up against: Mount Kilimanjaro (a mountain so big it makes Table Mountain look like Plastic Kiddie Chair Mountain), the Great Barrier Reef (featuring the most awesome sea life and beautiful coral EVER), the Grand Canyon (the place where Odin buried his axe during Ragnarok itself), the Dead Sea (water you can FLOAT on even if you’re FAT) and the motherfunking Amazon Rainforest among too many others too awesome to comprehend. Aside from Fynbos - which is awesome, Table Mountain has klip dassies and stoners getting lost. If it wasn’t shaped like a table, nobody would even care and to people who live here it’s just part of the scenery – like clouds or "Bubble" Toyota Corollas.

Seen in its natural surroundings.
Yes, we’ve all been sold the spin; that it’s this amazing mountain and a natural treasure so we put pressure on ourselves to sanctify its superiority. Truthfully, it’s another case of South Africa going “Look guys! You have Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberty and Hanging Gardens and we have an oddly shaped lump of limestone” like the idiot of the global village. The global village of course looks at South Africa and says LOL NO.

More surprisingly, we won it. Table Mountain beat all of the amazing places it was up against. Klipdassies and baboons have trumped glow in the dark monkeys and spiders that can give you a 24 hour hard on with one bite. I give up on this species.

I guess that people voted because they believe it'll attract Euros, Dollars and Pounds to what essentially is the ass-end of Africa. Compelling - but my return argument is that all of Jamaica, Vietnam and Mozambique among other stunning countries are tourist destinations. They’re also countries so raped by colonial powers that they can’t develop due to debt brought on by what I call aid slavery (a blog topic for the future) and pressure to remain underdeveloped because of tourism.

People who live informally don't always choose it.
 Tourism is an industry reliant on your particular country being apocalyptically badly run so that rich people can have a little R+R in your backyard while you catch fish wearing a shorts made of frayed khakis and an open shirt. I do like that I can meet foreigners without moving but when I talk to them I feel as though they’re thinking “Why is zis local peasant standing before me? Should he not be out catching my fish?”

A white girl for Jamaica? Seriously?
Should I brave being called a Paki or a Turk and go to England, I'd find my previously adequate Rands almost useless. Meanwhile, a Scouser barman could realistically save up, move out of his one bedroom apartment in the shadiest part of Everton and into to an awesome home in Rondebosch. He could marry a local to get citizenship (because SA girls love foreigners), land a role as a voice artist because of his accent and live out his days in complete bliss.

This would be his car. Want.
Tourism does nothing for a country – especially tourism due to natural heritage. If economy could be likened to a corner shop, the milk, bread and eggs would be the goods and services that local companies develop and export. Tourism would be “loose” cigarettes, Rizla or those individual candies with the Arabic wrappers that they keep in jars. That our politicians put so much emphasis on Tourism proves that they’re idiots.

Julius pulls an awesome "Fuck That" face.
 We should instead focus on things other than tourism. South Africa is famed for its designers and engineers. If our very own Rory Byrne can design Michael Schumacher’s car why don’t we have small car manufacturer like a TATA, Geely or Proton of our own. Those companies pull in billions with a quarter of our automotive pedigree and it’s not because their products are amazing. No, those companies are able to offer a perfectly good car, cheaply and en masse to the entire frikkin’ world. Would you have said at the turn of the century that Jaguar would end up the hands of the Indians or that Lotus would be bought out by the Malaysians? Why can’t we build a car of our own and then buy TVR or something?

Do it.
If we absolutely have to be merited for our natural aspects then why not be merited for something that is truly unique – not just some mountain that people think would be really cool to walk on the top of. Also, it might be a good idea if said archive was actually supported by UNESCO. UNESCO is in charge of determining what is of historical or natural significance in the world and the people running this new 7 wonders tripe aren't even partially associated with them. Basically then, this new 7 wonders claptrap is the heritage equivalent of a Chinese knock off.

Seems legit.
They've convinced our media personalities to make us vote by the virtues of pride and patriotism. Furthermore, the people in charge of this New 7 Wonders malarkey have just made a small fortune charging us R3.00 an SMS and now that we've won, they're going to charge Helen Zille a few bar to put a sign up that says Table Mountain is a natural wonder. Having such a sign on our mountain means precisely dick without a UNESCO stamp. Think about it, If I hung a sign on your house that said "Here resides one of the 7 unnatural idiots of the world" it means nothing but if I was a psychologist, people would be throwing stones at you right now.

Kill him. He stupid!
Alas, this is Cape Town: where the people are nothing if they aren't suckers.