I remember how this coastal city in South Africa is the place where I had my first real job after finishing college. I started the work that has become my life’s passion in Cape Town. I studied social work in college, but it is only when I actually started doing the work that I found my true calling. My first job was at Cape Town Child Welfare and that job taught me everything I know now about social work.
This blog also started in Cape Town. I remember writing my very first post in September 2012, you can read Hello world! I was so excited to share my social work journey with the world and this blog was born. It was called Mind of a Social Worker at first and I did a lot of ranting about social work as a profession back then, LOL. Six years later, I am still here. Although a lot has changed (I have changed location, started a Ph.D. and grew older), the core of my message has remained the same. I am still writing and I am still passionate about the different aspects of my life, most of which are centred around my work. It all started in Cape Town.
Cape Town is home to the famous Table Mountain, Robben Island (where Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years) and lots of other beautiful tourist attractions. I remember always being grateful that most of these sights that people traveled far to see were just a train ride away from my home. I definitely made sure to spend time exploring Cape Town and I miss that a lot.
With fond memories, I remember Cape Town as the place I lived with one of my older sisters, almost twin sister because we are just a year and a half apart. It was our first time living away from home together, just the two of us. She is the love of my life, so you can only imagine how much fun it was living with her. We made so many memories in our first apartment, then the second. I know now that even if I go back to visit, it will never be the same as when we actually did life together. Leaving her to pursue my own dreams is still one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. But its part of growing up. At least I always have an excuse to visit Cape Town, my heart is still there.
The bitter memories of my time in Cape Town are not things I like to dwell on because I like to focus on positivity. I was not in Cape Town when the most violent and deadly xenophobic attacks took place in 2008 and left 62 people dead and more than 100 000 displaced Source, but I was there in 2009 and 2010. In 2009, approximately 2500 immigrants (mostly Zimbabwean) were displaced due to xenophobia. Living in a state of fear for one’s life is not something I will ever want to go through again. Xenophobia is still alive in South Africa as a whole and because it is Zimbabwe’s neighbouring country, most of my people migrated to South Africa. My family members and friends still live in South Africa, so this affects me on a personal level.
There is also the issue of institutionalised racism. In Cape Town, white privilege is a real thing and having been a black employee in that city, all I can say is that racial inequality is something I also experienced. I never got the chance to confirm it, but salaries and positions seemed to follow a racial hierarchy. I was just happy to have a job as I am sure most people of black descent often feel when they are employed. You consider the bills you have to pay and the mouths you have to feed. At times, you feel rather demotivated to fight an injustice that has been going on for so long that it feels normal when it really shouldn’t be. There are places in Cape Town where black people are still not allowed. I remember, one time, when a group of my friends and I went to a white majority suburb and decided we needed to eat. We entered a restaurant and the place went really quiet as we found our own place to sit, with no assistance from any of the people who worked there. People started moving from their seats leaving us isolated in the corner that we had chosen. In the end, we were politely asked to leave. It saddens me to remember it now.
It is sad that such a beautiful place is also home to a lot of pain, violence, and injustice. As you can see, my memories of Cape Town are bittersweet.
Day 16 Blogtember Challenge