November 14, 2007


I was fortunate to spend a long weekend recently in Cape Town. To be sure, Cape Town is truly a world-class city with an amazing array of sights and experiences and I was grateful to see them, even if it was a 22-hour one-way bus ride to get there. But my experience in Mthatha and Itipini has conditioned my expectations of South Africa in such a way that Cape Town felt like a completely different country – rich, white, clean. South Africa may be the “rainbow nation” and in Cape Town that definitely includes the blue and white of the BMW logo – they are everywhere! After nearly three months in Mthatha, I felt a bit uncomfortable in Cape Town. I don’t want to toss around words like “authentic” or “real” but I will say there is something much more basic about the lifestyles and concerns of the people in Mthatha than what I saw in Cape Town. It is amazing that such extremes can be part of the same country. It had me thinking all about economic inequality again, which always makes me uncomfortable, and got me thinking what South Africa’s income per capita would be if the Cape Peninsula was excluded from the calculations. (Yes, I know there are poor parts of Cape Town and the situation is similar in my own country.)

I could post any of my million pictures of Table Mountain or the Cape of Good Hope but instead I thought I’d prove I’m the most conscientious of tourists and show off my meeting with Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu. Now, I’ve just got to meet the real guy!