Overview of the Cape Flats
Overview of the Cape Flats

The term Cape Flats refers to well, a flat, sandy stretch of land which is located on the outskirts of the city of Cape Town. It has been accurately (I think) described as the "dumping ground of apartheid" and it is here that people of colour (non-whites in "old South Africa" language) were relocated to in terms of the infamous Group Areas Act.
This is the political definition of the term. The term also has a geographic interpretation, in which case it would include some of the former white areas in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. In these pages, the term refers to the political definition as described above and below.

In some ways, the Cape Flats can be regarded as a smaller product of the previous government's bantustan policy, and can also be compared with Soweto, on the outskirts of Johannesburg. It was an artificial creation, based on the sick notion that people of colour should not be allowed to live in the more upmarket areas i.e. close to town and their places of work. Thus, people from widely divergent backgrounds and experiences, were uprooted from their communities and thrown together in the wasteland that has become known as the Cape Flats.

Despite the way in which the Cape Flats was created and the harsh conditions under which people have to struggle for survival, there is a vibe that is unique to the Cape Flats- a vibe that has emerged, as new communities were forged and as people learnt to "make the best of a bad situation".

For me, the single most important characteristic of the Cape Flats, is its people. Visitors to the Flats often talk about the "Cape sense of humour"- the ability of the people who live on the Flats to see the funny side of every situation. Of course, this is part of a defence mechanism- what the American activist and poet, Maya Angelou, calls "the mask". However, it is this mask that has sustained the people of the Cape Flats, despite the odds against them.

These pages are dedicated to the people of the Cape Flats- all of them. I am a product of the Cape Flats. I have, however, been one of the few who have had the opportunity to be exposed to a much larger experience. Yet, I cannot forget, and I do not want to forget where I came from. This is my way of paying tribute to all the people of the Cape Flats, without whom I would have just been an "ordinary" South African.