Our friend Pete was waiting for us at the airport. After we’d collected our luggage we drove to his house. The drive along the highway from the Airport to Cape Town was our introduction to the town we’d be calling home for another 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 close to the highway.
They certainly were a poor reminder than 10 years after gaining independence the contrast involving the rich and poor has perhaps worsened. The shacks creating the shanty towns were made of each type of material known to man – corrugated iron sheets and rusty metal sheets coupled with wood, cardboard and wire to form an extremely uncomfortable shelter when compared to a family called home. A lot more appalling was the fact 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 us 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 area authority was operating to hold the shanty towns habitable. We saw a number of shanty towns along the main highways during our remain 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 around 30 residences. This style of living is very popular in South Africa, because of security and reduced overheads. The complexes are very 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 generally able to help keep pets too, because each house has a unique private garden. Additionally it is an ideal way to call home in Africa if one needs to travel or go on vacation – neighbours will keep an eye on the home when 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 profit a second cluster home. If one wants to call home in Africa security is essential, and a group home complex offers the best amount of security for residences.
Pete’s a bachelor, to ensure 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 a great evening. The view from Pete’s house was superb. Somerset West is made on a mountain 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 big family area, 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.Read More