A backgrounds. In the 2001 census, Coloured
A Qualitative Analysis: Cape Town, South Africa and Its Urban, Social & Cultural Issues INTRODUCTION Ever since its first establishment by the Dutch East India Company in 1650 (“Bray, 2008”), Cape Town has experienced a number of tumultuous urban, social and cultural issues.
These events greatly shaped Cape Town into the urban centre it is today, making the South African city an interesting subject of qualitative analysis. In the present, Cape Town continues to face and address urban issues, the mains of which will be discussed later on. THE HISTORY OF CAPE TOWNBefore analysing Cape Town’s urban situation, knowledge of both the city’s and South Africa’s social history is essential to understanding the issues that pervade the city today. Cape Town, currently South Africa’s second most populated city and its legislative capital, was founded in 1650 by the Dutch East India Company as a supply station for Dutch ships.
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Cape Town, since it was located near the shore, was an ideal port city and rest station for travelling ships and sailors. A labour shortage prompted Cape Town to bring in slaves primarily from Asian countries like Indonesia, India and Malaysia. (“Bray, 2008”).The descendants of these slaves were legally labelled as “Coloured” residents later in the 1940’s. The native Africans were known as Blacks, and the descendants of European settlers were known as Whites. East Asians were also present in Cape Town during the 1700’s. By this time, Cape Town had become a very multicultural (but not yet tolerant) city (“Bray, 2008”).
The most prominent and important historical event of both Cape Town and South Africa is the Apartheid, the legislated racial segregation of Whites, Blacks and Coloured people in South Africa that lasted for almost half a century (“Chokshi, 1995”).The Apartheid and its aftermath greatly influenced Cape Town’s politics and society; it impacted how space was perceived and distributed in the city, the economy, social and cultural values, and the environment. CAPE TOWN TODAY: AN OVERVIEW Today, Cape Town boasts a population of 3. 5 million people (“Bray, 2008”) from many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
In the 2001 census, Coloured and Black people made up the majority of the population at 79%, while the remaining 21% was either White or Asian (“Chokshi, 1995”).The multicultural aspect of Cape Town makes it a popular destination for immigrants and tourists alike. URBAN ISSUE FOCUS: CITY REGENERATION During the Apartheid, 19 million Blacks were only given 13% of the total land in South Africa, compared to 4. 5 million Whites owning 87% of the rest (“Chokshi, 1995”). This problem is very apparent in Cape Town – Khayelitsha, located on the outskirts of Cape Town, is Africa’s largest and most populated shanty town (“Bray, 2008”). The slum was formed during the Apartheid, since so many people had to fit into such a small area.Additionally, Black people were given terrible access to materials to build houses, electricity, plumbing, water and other necessities and amenities.
Many of these poor houses were built using plastic, cardboard and mud (“Chokshi, 1995”). After the African National Congress took over South African parliament in 1994 (post-Apartheid era), Cape Town underwent (and is still going through) major urban transformations (Low, 2003). Urban planning and reconstruction is taking place in the inner city as well as the townships surrounding the city (Low, 2003).Living conditions in urban centres and shanty towns have improved – sanitation and electrical services have expanded, and education is beginning to reach the most abject populations (Low, 2003). Cape Town implemented the “Dignified Places Programme” in 2006. The goal of the practice was to demonstrate Cape Town’s commitment to equality and sustainable development during the post-Apartheid era.
Through the program, the city constructs public spaces in the poorest areas of the city to promote quality, equality, dignity and to improve accessibility and the overall aesthetics of the urban area (Southworth, 2002).This comes in synchronized timing with the 2010 World Cup, which South Africa won the right to host. During such international events, a host country attempts to improve the overall quality of the country, since it will be in the international limelight for a period of time.
Therefore, urban transformation and regeneration is an important issue facing Cape Town today. OTHER URBAN ISSUES The extremely high crime rates in Cape Town has proved to be a major social issue (“Bray, 2008”).Murder and rape rates are amongst one of the highest in the world, according to a United Nations survey conducted in 2001. Rape also ties in with Cape Town’s (and South Africa’s) battle against the HIV/AIDS endemic (Dinkelman et al. , 2008). A survey showed that 2 of 3 young adults do not use condoms while engaging in sexual activities, therefore increasing the chance of spreading sexually transmitted illnesses (Dinkelman et al.
, 2008). Fortunately, key HIV statistics show that infant mortality rates and tuberculosis rates in Cape Town has gone down in the past 5 years (“Dinkelman et al. , 2008”).The diverse nature of Cape Town does not always bring benefits – racial tensions still run high sometimes, and xenophobia (the dislike or fear of foreigners) is a prevailing issue in not just the city, but the entire country. In a 2004 study by the Southern African Migration Project, violence against foreign visitors and African refugees is met with tensions and hostility (“Chokshi, 1995”).
There has been a number of xenophobic killings in Cape Town. All this crime has brought up a controversial urban issue in the city. CULTURAL DISTINCTIVENESS As previously mentioned, Cape Town is an extremely cosmopolitan centre.For much of its history however, it was greatly influenced by the European and Western way of life. The majority of the population, 77%, is of Christian religion, although there is the presence of Muslims, Jews, Hindus and atheists/agnostics. 41% of Cape Town residents speak Afrikaans (the Germanic language originating from the first Dutch settlers), 29% speak Xhosa – an African tribal language, and 28% speak English.
The other 2% speak other African tribal languages like Zulu, Sotho or other. Traditionally, Cape Town has been a very Eurocentric city.Cape Town has a culture like none other – it consists of many different cultural groups, co-existing together. African tribes like the Bantu, the San, the Khoekhoe were present in the city, along with the Dutch and British Europeans.
There were the Asians, most of whom were former slaves, and the people of mixed race. CONCLUSION Historical events have provided a fundamental foundation for the current urban situation in Cape Town. The vestiges of events like European settlement and the Apartheid have greatly influenced society, culture and politics in Cape Town today.The city is facing a plethora of urban issues – ranging from urban restoration to crime rates, and from illnesses to racism.
Many of these urban issues can be traced back to the past when European settlers first established Cape Town in the 1600’s. Both these issues and the physical form of the city show how the city has progressed throughout its life – they reveal the society that built and continue to build it, and the values and they were founded upon. They also provide insight into how the city will progress in the future, in terms of politics, culture and society.Overall, it can be seen that the urban structure in Cape Town differed from other cities around the world due to the influence of history and culture, and the role it played on the world stage. The unique mix of all these aspects make Cape Town the distinctive urban centre it is today. List of References Bray, R.
(2008). History of cape town. Retrieved from http://www.
capetown. at/heritage/ Chokshi, M. , Carter, C.
, Gupta, D. , Martin, T. , & Allen, R. (1995). The History of apartheid in south africa. Retrieved from http://www-cs-students.
stanford. edu/~cale/cs201/index. html Dinkelman, T.
Lam, D. , & Leibbrandt, M. (2008). Linking poverty and income shocks to risky sexual behaviour: evidence from a panel study of young adults in cape town. South African Journal of Economics, 76(1), S52-S74. Low, I.
(2003). Space and reconciliation: cape town and the south african city under transformation. Urban Design International, 8(3), 223-246. Southworth, B. (2002). Urban design in action: the city of cape town’s dignified places programme – implementation of new public spaces towards integration and urban regeneration in south africa.
Urban Design International, 8(2), 119-133.