Harfield, I’m out.

Hypothetical scenario. You have a dilemma. You live in a neighbourhood which you sort of enjoy (mostly because of the high ratio of bars to residents). It’s built on lies and bad history (aren’t they all?) and you want to make a change. Change the legacy, make a bit of a dent in the future you see ahead of it. But you’re damn well exhausted. For many reasons. What do you do? For example, you’re tired of posts like these:


I’m very concerned about safety, as I’m sure that most people are. But the shit starts with these sorts of posts and this sort of commentary. You see, I’ve been digging into the history of this neighbourhood. And, as I touched on before, and probably will write about again, my dad used to live here. Until he was kicked out under the Group Areas Act. The person’s post above might be well justified because of increasing crime that’s happening in the area. And I’m glad that she engaged with them and tried to talk to them. But she probably wasn’t very nice about it. In this neighbourhood, people openly ask others what they’re doing there. As though they have a right to do so. They don’t quite understand that people have the right to be where they damned please. This post appears to be the least dangerous of many that I’ve seen, because it only highlights that she was worried about these 2 particular men roaming the streets. They probably were “casing” the area. Crime is high all over the place.

But what hit me – and hurt me – is the ‘Gated Community’ comment. And the one below that. Because, after months of  ‘Our Village’ posts, and ‘Black man running in the direction of the train station – could be dangerous’, and cute names like ‘Harfielders’ for those in the ‘in’ group, I had lost it. This is not ‘their’ village. Not ‘their’ streets. Because, just a little while ago, they were the invading strangers, physically booting people from their houses and stealing their valuables without suffering any consequences. Their village has been built on theft and hatred and violence. Some of them might not know this. But most of them should. There are so many people here who have lived here for decades. They literally stole the homes they’re living in.

And they want to declare it off-bounds now to everyone who they don’t like. “Thanks, darkies, this is mine, now get out and don’t come back or I’ll call the cops”. That sounds terribly harsh, I know. But fuck me, I’m fed up.

The community page is filled with complaints (but that’s not unique to this community, so I won’t begrudge them their soap boxes – also, there are a few heartwarming posts here and there).

wtf squirrel
Paparazzi shot of a Harfield regular who stands out a little from the rest. Sorry dude, you’re out. Jokes, this squirrel is rather beloved around here.

They’ve got into the habit of taking pictures of people they don’t like and posting it online so that others can be ‘warned’. The local priest had her picture taken when she, suffering from a back injury & walking in the rain wearing a hoodie, had a picture of her sitting on the ground trying to tie her shoe posted on the community page with the caption listing a ‘dodgy coloured woman’ in the area. Two men sitting in a public park also had their pictures taken because they didn’t look too savoury. The other day, I saw this:

Thank goodness for Jamie. The world could use more Jamies.
Thank goodness for Jamie. The world could use more Jamies.



You know, I get it. Public drunkenness is not great for anyone. It’s not cool that that couple are passed out on the pavement. But the commentary below the image went wild. “Tar over them!” was one. “Vote DA” was another (Jesus Christ). A lunatic by the name of Pam Brash actually said, ” I’d like to take a fire hose to some of them…I certainly haven’t had a privileged life either, everything I’ve ever had I’ve worked very hard for…”. After claiming that 17th century missionaries saved the West Coast’s people of colour from poverty, she summed up her argument (and her claim that she is a compassionate person) with this gem:

If it weren't for Carlin, I might have stuck my cheese knife in my ear.
If it weren’t for Carlin, I might have stuck my cheese knife in my ear.
omg, Pam, I think I just choked on my Gorgonzola.
omg, Pam, I think I just choked on my Gorgonzola.

Fortunately, many people are as fed up with it as I was, as can be seen below. People are crying out for humanity and neighbourliness in the wake of all this online madness.

Some sanity in the madness.
Some sanity in the madness.
Too right, Kyle.
Too right, Kyle.


Wait wait wait, sorry – you thought Pam was finished? She’s got some real informed responses to some of the questions people asked her. You know, on account of her extensive background in South African history.

What am I doing on the floor? Did I pass out? Damnit, Pam.


I tried to find a picture I had commented on, but it seems it’s been deleted. It was a photo, posted by a local business owner, of some women sitting in the swings in public park. The caption said something to the effect of “Nannies still sitting in the swings & damaging our parks’ property”. An earlier post (also with photos of people innocently sitting in swings) called for community residents to stop “their nannies” from sitting in “our swings” because the swings can’t take the weight & besides, they should not be relaxing while looking after your precious babies, anyway.

Nannies are now a subspecies of people who apparently belong to our community members, are clearly identifiable by their appearance, and must be contained so that ‘we can have nice things’.

You know… Fuck you. All of you. It’s public, fucking space. It’s our space, it’s their space. We own NOTHING. Even the houses we live in are stolen. So stop whining. Put up some signage or (much easier), get some stronger swings, and stop being a damned creeper and taking pictures of people doing things that are none of your business. Or TALK to the people who are doing things you think are so offensive. Don’t whine about it on social media and hope that your gang of suburban Facebook activists will take up the Great Cause and reprimand ‘their staff’ for doing something as innocuous as sitting in a piece of old tyre in a shitty park (literally, it’s full of shit, because someone also posted a pic of their baby’s toes covered in dog doo a few days earlier).

Protest Baby. Swings for All!
Protest Baby. Swings for All!

Why I’ve started ranting about this again, is because of the rickety bandwagon of indignance some of the community members have jumped upon has been fueled by the spate of crimes that have recently hit the area. “Do-gooders” one grumpy gus called those of us who protested the wanton whingefest that had taken over the page. A page really meant to help you orient yourself in the community and, hopefully, find out who makes the best cupcakes for your kids’ birthday parties (or, in my case, a party of one, wherein I eat cake in the bath, drink wine from the bottle, and sing along to 90’s Marylin Manson hits). Now our protests have been drowned out, because the neighbourhood peeping toms are justified in taking pictures of every brown person who enters the neighbourhood because these people must be the source of the crime. Again, I’m understanding. We brown people are a dangerous lot. Just the other day, I accidentally stabbed three people just trying to get to my car at Kenilworth centre. We can’t help ourselves. I was hopped up on cake, wine and industrial music.

I also understand the panic underlying the creepy behaviour. Crime is making us all jittery. They really want to protect our neighbourhood, and I appreciate that. They’re out at night, doing neighbourhood watch duties, they’re talking to people to tell them how to be safe. Fantastic! I want part of that! I can help, volunteer, keep my eyes and ears open! I’ll pick up dog crap in the park. But I’m new here and I already hate everybody. And I’m moving. I’m moving the hell out of here. I’m not moving just because of the crappy people (although, it was a factor in helping me decide where I want to live – diversity is important), but partly because it will be cheaper to live somewhere else. Another rather cute (albeit unintentional) way of keeping people out.

When I hear of the Harfield of the past, before the GAA, sure there was talk of crime. But with no drugs around, the supposed gangsters were just local skollies who hung out on street corners. And everybody knew them. And they knew everybody. One person even told me they used to sing. West-side fucking story-style. White people called the area a slum. Those who actually lived here called it a community. A community that was safe, where kids played in the streets, where neighbours watched each others’ children when their parents had to work. I know that, globally, these kinds of communities are dying out. But this one was sent to an early grave. No wonder people living here now are feeling paranoid and out of control and resorting to social media. There’s no sense of togetherness and we’re letting the bullies run the show.

A dodgy Harfield Street Corner before GAA. What a scary bunch.
A dodgy Harfield Street Corner before GAA. What a scary bunch. Source: http://to.ly/K51Q

Some bullies recently proposed that we make sure that there’s nothing attractive for homeless people to get from the garbage bins on bin collection days, because they want the homeless to go to other neighbourhoods. Apparently, these terribly dangerous people who scratch in our bins are not too dangerous for other neighbourhoods to handle. #notinourhood. Here, in Cape Town, it seems nobody cares about the next guy. We don’t care about the homeless, the neighbourhood across the road, the school kids needing to use our public parks, the people who have as much right to be on your street as you do.

I honestly don’t know how to change it. But I think it starts with nipping it in the bud when we see it. Starting with our language. Cut the crap, cutesy stuff that hides a dangerous pathway to exclusivity & prejudice (even ‘Harfielders’ has got to go). We can stop being quiet about people using terms like ‘ours’ and ‘them’. It’s a goddamned snowball. We can make a noise when we see people’s right to privacy being violated. We talk to people around us – whether they live there or are just passing through, in a human sort of way. We acknowledge the history that built up our neighbourhood/city/country and not be so damned short-sighted and blame all our troubles on the government. And not letting the bullies scare us off, I suppose.

Oh hell. That means I have to get involved now, doesn’t it. Christ.

I’ll see you at the next Watch meeting. I’ll bring my stabbing knife. Joking. Seriously, that was a joke. I’ve hardly stabbed anybody.

Claremont Histories: http://claremonthistories.weebly.com/

Claremont Histories (Facebook)

South African History Online: http://sahistory.org.za/

Harfield Village Association (Facebook)


    1. She’s wonderful! She gives up so much time for others, & is exactly as nice as she seems in the video. We meet up now and then and she tells me (and everyone who is happy to listen) ALL the stories. She really wants to share them & has given permission to post them on Claremont Histories. Again. She is a legend. You can find her profile (work in progress) on Claremont Histories here: http://claremonthistories.weebly.com/raylaine-hendricks.html

      Thanks for sharing her story!

  1. GREAT piece. Thank you so much for this. Thank you thank you thank you.
    PS: I live in Claremont, and I’m wondering when I will be stopped in the street to be asked what I’m doing there… Unchecked privilege is baiting a backlash. And if this shit continues, it will be ugly. That is all i have to add. Thanks again.

    1. Thanks for the support, Anton (side note: were you at Norman Henshilwood?). Back to the topic: the priest I mention’s son got harassed regularly by police for being, essentially, a teenager (and not white). I don’t think the majority of the residents really understand what it’s like to be a person of colour – particularly a male – in this neighbourhood.

      1. Hi. No I wasn’t at NH 🙂 But I am very happy for discovering your blog. Power to you.

  2. Hear hear! As a fellow Harfield resident I agree – my best was a post from last year saying the nannies should wear labels with their employer’s contact info on it so that other residents could report when they weren’t watching the kids carefully enough. That said, the group has done some real good in helping people find lost pets, recover their belongings after a devastating house fire, raise money for charities. If only we could stop the bigoted posts.

    1. Oh. My. God.
      Oh. My. God.
      Did I say “Oh. My. God?”

      That’s a level of messed up I can’t even fathom.

      Also: yeah, I like it when the pets get found. A while ago a cat jumped in my window, puked on the floor and then ran away. That was one of those instances where the HVA site really helped. Mostly because I wanted to find that cat and give it some grief, but also because it was nice to let the cat’s human know that its cat was sick.

  3. I do understand your anger. The comments you highlight are repulsive.
    What I also noted though, is the fact some people in that group are calling those repulsive comments out. And when they do, their calling out is supported by others in the group – 14 Likes here, 16 there.
    I don’t know how big the group is, but you need to know that you’re not alone in finding this situation unacceptable.
    I live near Harfield and recently I actually managed to get our local “Neighbourhood Watch” FB group closed down. I use the inverted commas because it was basically just a small number of small-minded, privileged white people with racist agendas moaning about pretty much the same thing that your “friends” are.

    Recent publicity of several horrific racist occurrences have tarnished the character of all whities living in the Southern Suburbs. The Harfield residents you mention above further entrench the stereotype.
    But while these events are horrendous, the perpetrators certainly don’t speak for me and they don’t speak for many of those living in these areas. I understand why I am – we are – being tarred with the same brush, but I hope you and others realise that between the shouting racists of Southern Suburbs (or anywhere else), there are at least some of us that don’t subscribe – and never have subscribed – to that mindset.


    1. You’re very right. Without the support of others in the village, I don’t think any voices of dissent could really be heard. I think the ratio is 50/50. But the compassionate ones are struggling because the prejudice runs deep. It’s not unique to this area. But I think it becomes more stark because of the area’s history and the fact that there are really amazing people here calling that shit out.

  4. Thank you for this blog post, thats my comments you posted where i raise the issue of racism to Pam and others in the neighbourhood. This neighbourhood makes me want to move, those posts make me so frustrated, and then i post comments and feel as though they fall on deaf ears. I am not sure how to make a change and change the legacy. It makes me depressed and angry. Thanks for speaking the words on my heart -Leila Emdon

    1. Shit Leila, you’re my hero. Hope we can have coffee sometime (did I say coffee? You read that as whisky, right?) and rant about it. Then start a new group, as they advised us and CONTINUE flooding their page with protest. It’s a small thing, but it’s a thing. And, hopefully, it’ll be a bigger thing in the future.

  5. Thanks for your great blog post. I found you blog post posted in the Woodstock community group.
    I am following their group out of interest, I like to know when new restaurants and shops open etc.
    I live in Pinelands and belonged to the Pinelands 531 group for about 2 weeks before I left after
    daring to call one of the racist comment out. I was attacked from all sides and left as I was beginning
    to think I had moved to Mordor or Stepford and I was spending all my time screaming at the laptop.
    After following the Woodstock group for a while, the same patterns started to show. So Harfield is not
    unique. You are right to stay on-line and in the area, your voice will give others, who are probably
    quietly watching in disbelief, courage to speak. Debra

  6. I’m not the type to be politically correct so you may find what I have to say refreshing and direct. You are angry. I get that. You also hate. I get that too. Question is, where are you going to go to? Will you live your life in reaction and unforgiveness toward those that are blind and cannot see? Will you keep giving them the power to dictate your state, your well-being, your happiness? Will you continue to live at the mercie of your own biases, and judgements (tragically, as deluded and diseased as those you take issue with). Will you stop bitching, and become part of the solution? Will you seek to understand in order to be understood? Will cross the chasm from victim to victor? Will you take personal responsibility for your own attitudes and see them as part of the problem. Will you continue to live in the past – that many have long since forgotten? You’ll find hope if you carefully, truthfully, honestly answer those questions and with humility acknowledge that by the tone and nature of your post, you cross swords with those you seem to despise and demonise. You lower yourself to the level you think they are on. Tragedy is, the jokes on you. This is a free market. A pillar of democracy is land ownership. Can you really continue to project your shit onto those who saw a home there in 2014 and bought it? Do you really, really think they are who you say they are? My advice is – move on. As painful is it is. Move on. You don’t want to put on your headstone one day “It was everyone elses fault”.

    1. To forget the past is the privilege of those who didn’t suffer through it.

      I am angry, but I embrace engagement. This post is the result of regular engagement with people I disagree with and attempt positive discussion with. It is the result of years of frustration, trying to educate the privileged few about the plight of those who do not share their privilege. I will continue to engage in a respectful way, but this venting is a relief to me. And, it seems to resonate with a few other thinkers. I appreciate your comment, but I do not agree with it.

      I am no angry for no reason. I am, however, fed up. But I encourage you to do the same – to listen to those who are still angry. Because they can’t afford to ‘forget’ when they are still under the oppressive thumb. If you cannot see that they are, I urge you once more to talk to those – on an equal level – who struggle against negative commentary, daily prejudice, oppression. It still exists, unfortunately. And I – somebody who has recently spent a lot of time talking to and engaging with those who were directly oppressed by the apartheid government (they’re our parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, neighbours, teachers, etc.) – have had a fire inside me lit. It encourages me to do the exact opposite of forgetting. Because how, then, can we ever heal?

      Ps – I hardly think this rant, which is sometimes sometimes light-hearted represents the real anger inside most people. It’s a rant. It shows true comments found in a public forum in my neigbourhood. Pam is an arsehole & many here are too. But many are wonderful. I received a few message from fellow neighbours (all white) who fought against this racism. They don’t forget either. This stuff is still going on. Perhaps you should attempt to ‘get over it’? I don’t mean to sound rude, but it can be hard to convey tone in a message like this. I merely suggest. I do appreciate you taking the time to comment, though, and hope that you continue to do so for future posts. A debate is always welcome.

  7. Please don’t leave! We live in a flat in Rosmead Avenue, and would love to move into a small house in the area, but I’ll think twice if people like you are leaving and the Pams and Collettes of the world are staying. I feel an incredible need to apologise for the way you have been made to feel by those disgusting posts, and just general attitudes in the community. There is no excuse for it. On another note – your blog post was great! I’ll keep reading! Would love an article on ways in which we can drag these people out of their own comfy privileged head spaces and into a place of compassion and acknowledgment that we’re all just a product of our own opportunities in life (or lack thereof).

    1. Tracy, I’ll stay on the page (but have already stopped all alerts from it because it was exhausting). Whoa, don’t apologise. We’re all part of the same mess now, so what we do to fix it is what matters, right? Let’s fix it and take those buggers down!

      Ps – some practical advice on buying in the area. Shitloads of rising damp (so it’s not just some of the people who are rotten). Be prepared!

  8. Fantastic post. I own a house in Harfield and, when I still lived in it (now I’m an evil landlord) I joined and fled the HRA group about 7 times. I’m sorry people are being such pillocks, and hope you’ll stay in the ‘hood because otherwise the Wilcos like me will continue to call the shots (I assume you’ve noticed the habit of describing suspicious folks as “Bravo” or “Charlie”, because that’s WAY less offensive than black or coloured and not at all problematic. Actually my god. Why would you stay?

  9. Also PS – interesting that the onus is being placed upon you to change, to make Harfield a beautiful rainbow nation…and not on us white folks to stop being racist prats. That’s constructive.

    1. Sums up the fight perfectly. As if we don’t go through enough, now we still gotta be nice about it (in this day and age!) and any racism: “deal with it”, “get over it” and not get angry or fed up about our LEGITIMATE LIVED EXPERIENCES. Sigh. Smile and wave 🙂

  10. I hope that you’ve taken a look at the comments on the HVA group about this, because it highlights exactly what you mentioned here: typical mudslinging, ad hominem attacks, and illogical justification of reporting/suspecting “crime”. Some of the naysayers misunderstand that reporting the physical characteristics (e.g. ethnicity) of someone who commits a crime (e.g. He came into my house with a knife) is *different* to reporting a crime (or in the HVA case, the maybe suspicious behaviour that may lead to a crime, such as “He looked dodgy”) *because* of someone’s skin colour.
    I’m really glad that you captured those comments by Pam. I was flabbergasted.
    But in all seriousness, the group needs people to stand against this type of covert and overt racist behaviour, so thank you for posting and don’t leave.

    1. Sjoe, I had a look at some of the comments. It’s a bit of a hit & miss, really. Thanks to some really intelligent people I didn’t have to do a lot of defending myself. But thanks to some half-bricks, the conversation had to go on longer than I thought. It’s funny, because my rants are normally so personal (and in my own head). Who knew that expressing them would cause so much butthurt? Is butthurt still a thing? Or is that so 6 months ago? I try so hard to keep up with Internet lingo 🙂

      I find it laughable that people would defend the actions of PAM of all people. I would distance myself the hell out of that mess if I were them. They’ve now suggested we make a separate ‘lefties’ group or a ‘people against Harfield racism group’.


      Thanks for reading, by the way!

  11. What a great post! While I chuckled out loud, the harsh reality, sadly, is that your experience is based on… uhm… reality. We live around the corner from Harfield Village – have done so for the last 8 years – and your experiences echo our own. The tragedy is that we have come to accept is as the way life is around these parts. It’s so enlightening to see someone call it out in the way you have. Both mine and my wife’s folks grew up in District 6, so we have fond memories of their stories about what it means to be a community, what it means to be neighbourly, and how having access to fresh koeksisters on a Sunday is as important as running water 🙂 . Keep up the good work with this blog. Glad I found it!

    1. Koeksisters on Sundays! That brought a bit of a tear to my eye, I won’t deny 🙂

      Thanks so much for the positive comment. Actually rather a relief after the angry comments on the HVA page! Hope you have success transforming the facade that your own neighbourhood has built up.

  12. Wow – you have taken my thoughts and put them in to words way better than I ever could. Sadly, you could very well be describing Green Point where I live and where I am a member of a community page full of the same racist bullshit. While of course the page has positives and there are a lot of members who call people out when they post photos of homeless people minding their own business (for example!), on the whole the comments on the page make me feel incredibly ashamed of my community and the fact that living through all the changes of the past 20 years hasn’t done anything to change some people’s attitudes. I often wonder how one person can make a difference or change any of this, but you are right, we have to speak up and nip this stuff in the bud.

  13. This is excellent and accurate and necessary. I lived in Harfield for about three years some of the things I heard in that park made me want to die.

  14. I live in the neighborhood and couldn’t follow that page due to some of the reasons you mention so thanks for doing the hard work and calling out this nonsense. Me (light brown) and my black husband lived here for 2 years then bought a house here, we were told gleefully by the former white owners how nice everyone on the street is and how they were so warmly welcomed. We moved in…tumbleweed. 3 years later I think they’ve decided we’re not going to erect a backyard shack or slaughter a cow in the yard and have become a little warmer. Little do they know…we’re just biding our time before our shebeen opens and we have all the darkies over for a massive ritual slaughtering complete with drums and singing. You’re invited…(;

  15. Amazing post, thanks so much! I know Leila, whose comment you highlighted, and she often posts about the fuckery present in the HVA group. I’m continually shocked that people like Pam and her ilk still exist.

    I’ve always loved the Harfield area, I live in Claremont and have wanted to move to Harfield as well, but with all the fuckery I see, sho, I don’t think I could take it.

  16. I really couldn’t have said it better… I often find my mouth hanging open when reading the usual’s posts… and yes i say the usual’s, as more often that not, its the usual ‘clan with their pitch forks out in full force’. I don’t know if they don’t think before they talk, or if they think they are actually quite funny… but being a relatively young home owner in the area.. it shocks me that these are my neighbors 😦

  17. Hear hear! For the longest time I felt alone in my sentiments. God, I’m so glad I’m not the only human that feels this way! One thing I can tell though is that these “keepers of the gates” are in the minority. Perhaps we’re inadvertently handing them the power, simply by not taking a stand? We (and anyone els who wishes to join us because we’re not snob like that) should meet up for some beer and Marilyn Manson. Preferably sat outside on the pavement, quart bottle in hand all the while stabbing fun at the self entitled locals. #peacefulprotest

  18. Thank you for this post! I left that group a few weeks ago after one too many of those kinds of posts. I just can’t take it anymore. I think I left just before the creepy stalkerish photo-posting (I mean the fuck, honestly?). But I do think it’s important that those posts are being challenged by the people you highlight above and by you. It seems there are more sensible people than I’d initially assumed. As a black person, it is reassuring to know I don’t live amongst only bigots who are facebooking about how suspicious I, or my son, are. There are also some sensible folks willing to call the bigots out and not retreat into invisibility and let these fuckers define what is acceptable and who has the right to visibility in which areas.

    Please, please, may someone post your blog post all over that damn group and in all the hateful comment threads!!

  19. My grandmother grew up in Harfield, after the Group Areas Act came into play she was forcibly moved, only to go back years later to work as a maid in the same area. When I bought my first apartment in Third Avenue she cried, so grateful that her granddaughter could now live and raise her own son in the same area that she lived – and where my dad was born. That being said, I had experienced my fair share of racism while living there, I was literally asked “Can I help you?” – in a tone that says “you obviously don’t belong here” in the apartment block’s common property, when a black couple moved in, a petition was brought around to have them evicted because of the “element” that they attract, smh

    1. It was a pretty big deal for my father, too, when I moved back – even if I was just renting. But it was more than a little shocking to discover the undercurrents of prejudice that still exist in the area. Who is your gran, by the way? Perhaps, if she or her kids are keen, they’d like to add something to Claremont Histories? http://www.claremonthistories.weebly.com. I do interviews about once a week & the purpose of the site is to reunite ex-residents and keep a record of all the memories of the area.

  20. I just discovered your blog. Thank your calling out bigoted folks living in modern day South Africa with their heads stuck in another era. Shame on them and their entitled opinions of who belongs and who doesn’t. Perhaps they should try a bit of compassion. It goes a long way, and doesn’t hurt anyone at all.

  21. This is a very good article, thank you. As a former (white) Harfiled resident I am disgusted by some of the residents’ comments you show in your article. I think you shouldn’t have blacked out their names and faces. ‘Name and Shame’, I always say…
    Who the actual f**k do they think they are anyway?
    I’m sorry you’re moving on because of these @rseholes. I hope you find a better neighbourhood to live in, but if I were you I’d stay – just to piss them off! (And because you have every right to…)

  22. Brilliant, brilliant blog. Thank you for the care and passion with which you wrote it. This I will be sharing .. over and over. It touches on so many issues that have troubled me – but I have found difficult to articulate as well as this. Thank you for your courage and honest … and ‘gatvolness’ – it gives me hope.

  23. Gardens, i am in. there is no difference. you should stay in. you are brilliant but chickening out. same as i often feel like doing. and i am white (not my fault!).

    1. Hey Micha. Yeah, I suppose it’s an easy out. But at the moment the place is a bit too hectic for me. Maybe one day I’ll return. There’s a lot of history here, so I don’t want to lose my access to that – but it’s also very sensitive to me too, because of the history. I’ve found a place not too far already, so we’ll be off soon. But I think I’ve come to a compromise: stay actively part of the community, despite how infuriating that may be. I don’t think they’ll delete me from the page. Thanks for reading!

  24. It’s scary realising bigoted cretins mired in the sludge of aparthate even after 20 years cannot see past their inculcated ingrained hate. What are they afraid of, what is it they cannot understand that if together we don’t make a stand against the issues of our time, we’re going to run out of time, then it will be too late to take a stand, and all that will be left is hate…

  25. I can indentify with your frustration and what I’d call SHEER IGNORANCE of some of the present home owners, ‘dwellers’ who have no idea/clue as to the history of this once vibrant, colourful, life giving and caring, supporting community that once had residence (t)here. Our neighbourhood was SAFE back then until we were ‘moved out’ …..those were painful years….to leave

    I was born and raised in Harfield, I attended Rosmead PS and the Livingstone HS, and there we(I) was made aware of the inequalities of society wrt humanity and all that the past government stood for…

    My childhood was rich and adventurous yet tough and I survived, at the same time it took an upward curve when I attended LHS, because we had teachers there who were our ‘second parents’ who wanted us to be aware of what was happening around us and educate us to be well informed in order for us to become meaningful and contributing members to society in a positive way. We were enouraged to STAND UP for what we believed in and speak out against injustice and more so to be treated as a respected human being – regardless of your skin colour!

    Incidently our and our neighbour’s house still stands ‘unrenovated’ in the road where I lived…Durham Street, there are no ‘vacant plots’ in the road let alone the neighbourhood…so much has changed, but my childhood memories live on, I often drive through Harfield and pass ‘our house’ and tell my children this is where I grew up and lived as a child until we had to ‘move’ via GAA.
    I’ve not been ‘photographed’ or asked if I’m lost, yet! Not on Police file as such…

    It’s encouraging to see your passion and heart and I commend you to keep up the Good Fight and not to ‘leave your post’ but carry on…yes, we all have a right to live wherever we can afford to buy and we are free to walk, visit any POS /area/parks….unless stated for safety reasons.

    STAND and KEEP STANDING and continue WRITING

  26. YAY! So wellwritten. Cant wait for a communal wine swigging Marilyn Manson party in the Park!! I will bring the food!

  27. I live in Harfield Village and the HVA has so often made me ashamed to live here.
    Their Facebook page is a breeding ground of racist assumptions and stereotypes dangerously masked by pronunciations of doing good for the community.
    I have certainly valued and appreciated how the HVA has worked for example to improve and beautify our parks but to then adopt a sense of ownership, plausibly underpinned by white middle class entitlement, is disgraceful.
    A spate of racist attacks have rocked Cape Town recently and the vitriol spewed by some members of HVA indicate the too pervasive mindset that exists in Cape Town that perceivably has led to these attacks.
    My one wish is that as Cape Townians and as South Africans we move away from any mindset that focuses on separateness.
    Gated village – fuck that!

  28. Thank you for this blog, it is brilliant. I, too, live in Harfield and I was horrified by the bigotry (and then misogyny!) shown in the comments and resulting slew of posts. I held my tongue until this morning when I realised that you (and many other wise voices) had been removed from the page. What the fuck? I’m sorry. Voices like yours are exactly what this community needs, and they remove you from the page? Utterly ridiculous. It prompted me to comment, and I’ll copy paste my post to the HVA page below. Please, when you go for your ‘coffee’ (whisky), can I come too? I’m sad you’re leaving.

    My post on the HVA FB Page:

    For the past few days I have kept quiet as the debate raged on. It has been fascinating, and I want to say thank you to all involved. From the bigotry that made me cringe through to the incredibly profound and often eye-opening comments, you all taught me (and I’m sure many others) different things. Stand out point: when debating on a social media platform, do yourself a favour and read people’s comments. Even more importantly, read your own, before pressing publish.

    And think. Terry-Jo’s frankly fabulous blog did that. It made us (well it certainly did make me) think. This is stuff we all know about (I hope, at this point) but it’s stuff we all need to be reminded of, regularly, to adjust our attitudes in order to create a better community. It opened up the can of worms that many of us have worried about, the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality that pops its head up on this page. It’s horrible, it’s not community, and it needs to be called out. And to deal with it? We need debate, we need to talk about it and rage about it and expose the hurt and the history and acknowledge it and, in doing so, work out how to make it better.

    I had kept quiet, but I will say my bit now. I am utterly horrified to see censorship forced upon us. It seems that some of the strongest and most literate and wise voices have been shut down and banned. The HVA do a great (and largely thankless) job in making Harfield a lovely place to live, and for that I say thank you BUT at what point did the admins on this page become our guardians and censors?

    Harfield Village is not a Nanny State. Neither is it a primary school playground (although in the past week one may have thought it was). We do not need prefects telling us what we can or can’t say, who we can or can’t be friends with or what we can or can’t read. We’re all adults. Not interested in political debate? Scroll down, just as you do if you see a dog post and you’re a cat person.

    Deleting posts and people is like stepping back twenty five years into the dark days of this country. Don’t do it, please. Communities are not just about cake sales and kittens, they’re also about learning about each other – our histories, our hurts, our joys. It’s about learning from each other ,and how will we ever learn if we’re not allowed to talk and, sometimes, get angry?
    LikeLike ·
    Caryn Rawlings, Leigh Brown, Jeremy Daniel and 15 others like this.

  29. Thanks for writing this. I live in Harfield and my dad was kicked out because of the GAA. The outright racism of some of the residents on the website is disgusting but not surprising. I have more to say but I’m tired of white racism. I’m tired of doing political work around race and things seem as if they’re taking too long to shift, even just a bit. I feel white people should engage each other on their racism. I don’t have the capacity to be a native informer anymore. So, yes, on the one hand, it’s important to make them aware of their racism, but on the other hand, it’s actually their work to do. Surely they must be aware to some extent of their stupidity? I find their lack of consciousness quite embarrassing.

    1. Hey Nadia – thanks so much for the comment. I think, that’s my problem too. I’m TIRED of holding people’s hands to get them to this place of tolerance. We all have to do it every day. Be the ‘bigger people’. Sometimes we just want to rant a little. And stomp our feet and tell people to shut up because they’re not making any sense. I will still be as fair, polite, and civil as possible. But ffs, when we tried to do it with dignity just recently on the HVA page, we were shouted down & banned. Because we were ‘radicals’. If being nice and decent is radical, then I suppose I should embrace it. Nah, fuck it. I’m going to go back to stomping my feet for a little while longer until my brain settles.

  30. Thank you for this. It resonates with me.
    For me I think starts with us NOT allowing micro-aggressions through the use of words, images, innuendos & “jokes” etc to slide. I’ve found that its the “little things” like being racist over social media, making passing judgments under your breath and in other “lesser” ways that really stirs my pot – well for me as a “coloured” person anyway. I get jas for those “so typical of them” comments. Makes me wonder if that’s what you online – what do you say in the confines of your home?

    I also listened to the interview and I must say well done! You carried yourself very well with John – no easy feat 🙂

    1. Thanks Amy! I was crazy nervous when they asked me to talk to John. Had a drink halfway through 🙂

      I feel exactly what you say. If the microaggressions are sort of gateways. To larger generalisations and full-on lies about people. It just goes nowhere good. I find it hard to believe, when we try to explain it calmly and kindly, why people still defend it. So screw calm. 😉

  31. I can imagine. He terrifies me. You did good. 🙂

    Gateways: nail on the head.

    Its just that its hard because I don’t want to reinforce the stereotype of a “angry, black women” and I try to stay calm but sometimes people just.don’t.get.it. It goes completely over their heads. The privileged just don’t see their privilege

  32. Thank you for this piece.
    I recently decided I will stop engaging on conversations about race but its prevelance in Cape Town lately makes it almost impossible.

    I think we have all just been talk about this topic for ages. Its time we acted as South Africans. I hate conformity or the idea of following America but they have showed courage and unity with the Ferguson issue…we need to stand UP!


  33. Thank you for writing this. I lived in Harfield, joined the Harfield FB group. I’m now in Kenilworth, and after the racial profiling episode I removed myself from the Harfield group. It was horrid and after a while I just thought it was more negative than positive, and I don’t want to be part of that crowd. (not everybody, but enough to spoil it) So far, the Kenilworth group seems to be more sensible and use the group for what it is meant for.

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