By Leo Tolstoj

 

Slowly I am getting a sense of the narrative in Cape Town. The general narrative is not a common denominator found in the stories about South Africa, but a narrative found in the way this town talks about itself.

 

The narrative as a concept in singular form is first of all a misleading phrase in this city. When I say misleading I am pointing towards the post-modern idea that all events in this world generate different stories depending on the perspective they are told from. In this country of massive inequality and a rich diversity this is more evident than ever.

 

An example is transportation. Travelling from Denmark we were introduced to the advice of renting a car when we got to the Mother City. Cars were the only real transportation, as a Cape Town native told us, and we were focused towards acquiring a car as soon as we would arrive.

 

Renting a car was harder than we though and a small group of KP’s autonomously rented some bikes.

 

Now a lot of us find ourselves on bikes; getting faster through the city with a richer and deeper understanding of the landscape this city is situated in. We have gotten astound looks on the streets, started conversation with our surroundings because of our way of transporting ourselves and generally intervened a little bit in the hectic traffic to show that there is a more sustainable way of transportation.

 

So why do Capetonians tell us to use cars? Why are they fencing their property with barbed wire, cameras and armed response? Why are there so many warnings to a newly arrived in this city?

 

Probably because it is dangerous in some places. Probably because cars are the safest transportation in some areas. Probably because we all are reasonable beings that do what we think is best and try to look out for each other.

 

But some of the reason for the fear passed on from one to another must also be found in the stories we tell each other. It is true that all happy families are alike, but we must not forget to tell the stories about happy families anyway. Then we can handle the stories about the unhappy – without passing on fear.

 

This is my initial reflection about the city I am situated in. I hope that it will be proved wrong. And I hope that I along the way will be able to give you a far more detailed description of the narrative that this city and country holds.