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Cape Town .....and Capetonians
...as the locals do
Cape Town Culture is dominated by the Cape Malays, many of whom reside in the Bo Kaap and the Cape Coloured People.
Cape Malays (Muslims) are the descendants of the many Slaves brought here by the Dutch Traders from areas such as Indonesia, Java and Malaysia. The Bo-Kaap, a 95% Muslim area, is situated within the City Center.
Cape Coloured People are people of mixed race...usually between the indigenous Khoi-San and Europeans or between Indonesians and Europeans. They are the largest race group in the Western Province....one of 9 Provinces in South Africa.
The largest part of the local community live on the Cape Flats. It's a flat sandy stretch of land outside of the city.
The dominant Language is Afrikaans...a language from Dutch descent mixed with English, French, German, Portuguese....and some of the 11 official languages of this country.
LOCAL IS "lekker"
Lekker is a word which is widely used when you enjoy something....then you say it was lekker.
The "official" local dish of The Cape has to be Bobotie.The Cape Malay people are famous for cooking this dish and it is usually served with yellow rice. It is a Savory, light curry mince with an egg topping.The origins of Bobotie can be traced back to the eastern influence on South African culture.The starters are usually Samoosas and of late...Spring Rolls.
It is very acceptable to eat using your bare hands..especially amongst the Muslim Community. This is very evident at weddings and large gatherings.
Capetonians are very friendly people and will openly welcome you into their homes. In fact they will feel offended if you don't come in. Coloured people are referred to as the "Jesters" of the nation.
A good place to start meeting people would be to go via the Bo-Kaap museum. There you will be directed to different homes and places in which you show interest or the best way is to arrange a local guide to take you around. It is a very entertaining way to get around. Many of the cultural events take place in the museum hall or in the community center. Once again , inquire at the museum. Ask if there are any weddings scheduled to take place on the weekends. These are quite spectacular to watch.
Cape Town music has a distinctive sound. Many of our musicians such as Robby Jansen, Johnathan Butler, Abdullah Ebrahim and Bazil "Mannenberg" Coetzee, to name but a few, have become world famous. We host the North Sea Jazz Festival annually in Cape Town. So some of the places where you can go to listen to good local jazz would be Bass-line, Mannenbergs, Green Dolphin, Kippies and Rosies.
To celebrate the freeing of the slaves in 1838 the Cape Minstrels march through the streets of Cape Town on New Years eve. This is a huge annual parade and streets in the City Center are blocked off for this event. This usually coincides with the Christmas Choir and Malay Choir marches. This is a very colorful and festive event and locals come out in their thousands to witness this event.
It would be criminal not to mention the huge amount of local musicians in cape town. I exaggerate a little when i say that there is a musician in every second or third home, but that's the idea one gets. The banjo has become synonymous with Cape Flats and Cape Malay music. The Ghoema is a skin covered drum which accompanies all street bands. It used to be made in the early days by the Coopers who lived in the area.
Now if you're lucky enough to get invited to a shebeen(informal drinking place) on the Cape Flats where musicians gather and you enjoy music, then you're in for a real treat. Most Capetonians have a flare for music and playing some or other musical instrument. It's really great fun and very noisy. From a distance it would sound like people having a serious argument.
The most exciting development in the arts has been the recent opening of the Athol Fugard Theater in Cape Town. Another great venue would be the Artscape Theater also situated in the main City Center. Do make inquiries about the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra performances from the local Tourist Information office.
Here are some we hold dear.....
- Christmas...some celebrate it the night before with a big family meal. Everyone stay up until 24h00, wish each other and go to their respective homes.
- New Years Day...generally a day for the beach
- Family Day...5th April
- National Braai Day....supposed to be Heritage day 24th Sept.
- Easter...most working people apply for leave to take advantage of a shortened week. Then they head off to camp for their entire vacation
- Good Friday...and every Christian household abstains from eating fish
- Tweede Nuwe Jaar...second new year
SPORT AND RECREATION
We have been blessed with fantastic stretches of beach and this is the main attraction on hot summer days. Some of our favorite beaches are:
- Boulders Beach
- Fish Hoek Beach
- Milnerton Beach
- Sunset Beach
Saturday afternoons are dedicated to sport. We're either playing it or watching it. The most popular sports in the country are Rugby (could be mistaken for the dominant religion), Cricket and Soccer.
The main local Rugby field is Newlands. Right next door is the main Cricket Pitch. The main soccer Stadium will be the one where some of the soccer world cup games will be played. This is in Greenpoint in Cape Town.
Baseball, Tennis, Hockey, Rugby, Soccer and Basketball are some of the other sports played on Saturday afternoons.
It is possible to go and watch local sports games. You would have to inquire from your host or from the local Cape Town Tourism offices.
Fishing or Rock angling is another great pastime as we have nearly 2900km of coastline.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is a huge favorite for locals with kids. It has wide open grassy spaces which are ideal for kids to play on and to have picnics. There are some wine farms that offer the same facilities.
LOCAL PUBS AND CLUBS
One of my favorite hangouts is a pub called The Woodstock Torchbearer. Woodstock is just 10 min. outside of Cape Town City.
My favorite lunch spot on weekends is in Kalkbay and it's called OUTSPAN. In fact, I love that entire area. I go there on most Saturday afternoons to buy fish from the boats. You have to try eating Snoek, when you're here. It's a Barracuda type fish and is caught mainly off the Cape Coastline.
There are some really great restaurants along the coastline from Kalk bay [pronounced "cork bay"] to Simonstown. A real basic local experience would be to eat at Kalkies. It's a local fish and chip outlet on Kalk bay harbor jetty. Other good fish and chips spots are Salty Sea Dog in Simonstown, and two other franchises called Snoekies and Ocean Basket.
There are many great hangout spots on the upper end of Long Street. It's a safe area even at night and a great area to go pub and club hopping.
FOOD AND WINE
Meat........we eat lots of meat. We're Africans. Something must die so we can eat. Forget about dieting. You're on holiday.
Some time during the course if the weekend we have to Braai. You may call it a Barbecue. We call it a braai....and we only use wood. Not Gas. Wood.
The favorite meat of choice is chicken or Lamb. Fish and lobster are the 2 other favorites.
The favorite fish for braai is aSnoek, which is a barracuta type fish. This gets marinaded with sauces that contain Apricot Jam, Coca-Cola and all sorts of wonderful "secret ingredients".
The Chicken Braai has taken a whole new style. The latest braai kit has a small grid with a can holder mounted on it. You place a can of beer on the grid, you force the open side of a spiced up chicken over the can, seal the backside and place on the fire. Picture that.
Meat is marinaded in a variety of ways including marinade that contains beer or Coca Cola.
Now, don't you dare mess with another mans fire. No sir. If you want to know what's in the marinade, ask nicely. In a general roundabout way. ...after you've paid the compliments and had a good few drinks.
Our wines are world renowned but South Africans are Beer drinkers..........oh and the water is of the highest quality. Most of the countries best wines are produced just outside of the City.
Vienna and Chips Parcel
To enjoy the Cape Flats' best Vienna and Chip parcel you would have to get down to Busy Corner in Grassy Park on the Cape Flats and speak to Parker.(Mr. Parker, who has been there forever). You should order it with barbeque spice.....but the locals have it with Peri Peri. If you don't know Peri Peri then you might understand......HOT. VERY HOT. I mean keep "toilet paper ready in the fridge" HOT.
This is made up on a long, fat bread roll, about the length of your forearm. It is then filled with chips and any other filling you wish. The fillings may range from Polony and Vienna to Steak or Sausage. Once again, as the locals do, with that same Peri Peri. We like it hot.....
OFF THE SHELF
There are some delicacies which can make a South African homesick and cause withdrawal symptoms should they not be ingested, savored and/or enjoyed regularly. Some of these include:
- Biltong....dried meat. Jerky.
- Droewors...Dried Sausage
- Mrs. Balls Chutney....a sweet, fruit based relish sometimes eaten with curry
- Rooibos Tea...A local indigenous herbal tea which in endemic to the Cape
- Mango Atcha.....a pickle relish. Atcha is a Hindi expression for "Good"
- Pinotage Wine...a true South African wine cultivar
- Marmite....a beef extract used as sandwich spread, soup enhancer etc.
- Boerewors....farm style local sausage
- Dried Snoek...snoek is caught mainly off the Cape Coast
- Castle Lager...a favorite local beer enjoyed by tourists
- Carling Black Label...our countries most consumed beer
- Amarula...a very popular local liqueur
- Kreef....Crayfish or Lobster
- Pap and Chakalaka.....Grits or stiff Maize and a type of Salsa mix
- a Springbok...a mixture of Amarula and Peppermint Liqueur. also the name of our National Rugby side
HOW THE LOCALS GET AROUND
The mini-bus taxi is what moves the nation. The taxi associations is the largest consumer of fuel in the country. Taxi's are often in very bad shape and the industry is not very well policed, however it's a fast, cheap and well integrated transport system. You will often see families getting around on weekends by taxi to get to beaches and shopping malls.
Taxi's (sedans) are easy to come by and are stationed at all the major attractions in and around the city and the airport. The per Km price is normally displayed on the side of the door.
Many people own their own private cars and i think that if the public transport system was better networked most people would use it instead of their own cars.