‘Cape borners’ dis­play com­pas­sion deficit

In Mother City town­ships, mem­bers of an East­ern Cape in­flux are ‘igo­duka’ – mi­grants, not kin

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SINOLWAZI APRIL

XOLISWA Qoni is a pro­fes­sional, a jour­nal­ist, but to many Capeto­ni­ans she is re­garded first and fore­most as some­thing else – igo­duka (a mi­grant).

Born and raised in Kwanobuhle in the in­dus­trial town of Uiten­hage in the East­ern Cape, Qoni has lived in Gugulethu, one of the old­est town­ships in Cape Town, for five years. But she still doesn’t feel a sense of be­long­ing, not least be­cause she is so of­ten re­minded she grew up else­where.

Qoni is a vic­tim of a form of dis­crim­i­na­tion that has not re­ceived much public­ity, but is per­va­sive in Mother City town­ships where peo­ple from the East­ern Cape are made to feel like for­eign­ers.

“Of­ten re­fer­ring to them­selves as ‘Cape borners’, black peo­ple born in the Cape think that they are su­pe­rior to those who re­lo­cated from the East­ern Cape, be­liev­ing they de­serve first pref­er­ence when it comes to gov­ern­ment hous­ing and jobs,” Qoni said.

She re­called the de­ci­sion to move to Cape Town was not easy, but her main mo­ti­va­tion had been to pur­sue a ter­tiary qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

“I chose to ex­er­cise the priv­i­lege that our par­ents never got to en­joy in the apartheid era, the free­dom to travel freely with­out be­ing re­stricted from trav­el­ling in cer­tain ar­eas within the coun­try,” she said.

Qoni added the feel­ing she did not be­long in Cape Town had wors­ened a few years ago when West­ern Cape Pre­mier He­len Zille de­cribed peo­ple from the East­ern Cape who’d re­lo­cated to Cape Town for ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses as “ed­u­ca­tion refugees”. Yet she re­mains de­ter­mined no one – not Zille nor Cape borners – will de­prive her of her rights in her own coun­try.

Lukhanyanyo Mzingisi, 27, moved to Cape Town in 2004 when he was in Grade 9.

“It wasn’t easy for me to ad­just, I had a tough time mak­ing friends and fit­ting in at school, with hav­ing to learn dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters. Com­ing from Um­tata, my school mates had per­cep­tions and as­sump­tions about me. There was a lan­guage bar­rier that made it dif­fi­cult for us to un­der­stand each other,” he said.

It badly af­fected Mzingisi’s con­fi­dence and self-es­teem.

“I was taken ad­van­tage of and bul­lied in high school. On our last exam, my friends and I were at­tacked. It’s been 12 years since that in­ci­dent but I still have so much anger to­ward them, par­tic­u­larly the group leader,” he said.

The ex­pe­ri­ence changed him to the ex­tent that he had a bad rep­u­ta­tion at school, be­ing per­ceived as a vi­o­lent per­son.

“I’d had enough and had to stand up for my­self, which re­sulted in me be­ing in­volved in fights,” said Mzingisi.

On the other side of the di­vide is Thozama Mdumezweni, 58, a Cape Town-born fi­nan­cial ad­min­is­tra­tor.

Mdumezweni said peo­ple from the East­ern Cape were un­wanted in the city be­cause they were seen as de­mand­ing, cor­rupt­ing and tak­ing over.

“They are ac­cus­ing for­eign­ers of tak­ing their jobs, yet they are the ones tak­ing our jobs and our land,” she charged.

“Cape Town is very dirty be­cause it is filled with shacks that they have built. Some of the prob­lems we en­counter from them are crime and pay­ing water rates on their be­half be­cause they stay here for free,” she said.

Sivuy­ile Vimba, 24, was a tem­po­rary cit­i­zen in Cape Town for al­most four years.

Like Qoni, Vimba re­lo­cated to pur­sue ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion. He said he had an ad­van­tage com­pared to black peo­ple who came from other ar­eas be­cause at least he could speak Xhosa.

“As a Xhosa speaker from the East­ern Cape in Cape Town I felt more wel­comed and at ease be­cause isiXhosa is the lan­guage used mostly among the black com­mu­nity through­out the city. This meant that I wasn’t go­ing to have lan­guage bar­rier prob­lems,” he said. But he still faced prej­u­dice. “For me the rea­son for the dis­crim­i­na­tion was the dif­fer­ent up­bring­ing from a Cape borner, me be­ing a ru­ral child in the city,” he said.

Vimba’s ex­pe­ri­ence points to one of the ar­eas of sharp dif­fer­ence – those from the largely ru­ral East­ern Cape say the city-born have lost touch with their roots and hu­man­ity by adopt­ing west­ern ways, while city borners view those from the ru­ral ar­eas as slow, with back­ward views.

In re­cent re­search on race is­sues, the South African In­sti­tute Of Race Re­la­tions found prej­u­dice and dis­crim­i­na­tion was born out of eco­nomic frus­tra­tion and a sense of dis­em­pow­er­ment.

The SAIRR noted: “Due to South Africa’s weak econ­omy and that the ma­jor­ity of South Africans are not be­ing em­pow­ered, peo­ple are frus­trated and lash­ing out at each other – be this black-on-black racism, xeno­pho­bia, white- on- black racism, racism be­tween any race groups. It will con­tinue un­less peo­ple are in jobs and em­pow­ered. ”



Thozama Mdumezweni (not her real name) says peo­ple mov­ing to the prov­ince from the East­ern Cape are steal­ing jobs and tak­ing over Cape Town.

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