What if black people inverted South Africa’s township tours?

Two black Capetonians went to rich Camps Bay and filmed white people going on about their lives.

A still from the video.

This video piece is just brilliant. Here’s the set-up: What if two black Capetonians (both photographers) went to Camps Bay (a rich, majority white suburb on the other side of Table Mountain) and do “an alternative township tour” to invert the “township tour”?*

The video is by LiveSA, a web and print initiative staffed by young black South Africans: “Recently LiveSA made a news insert for eNCA [a local channel] about township tours in South Africa – do they promote tired stereotypes? Are they ‘poverty porn’ for tourists? Can young people re-invent the township tour?”

For those not familiar with “township tours,” read Busisiwe Deyi’s post from last year. In short, township tours are instances “where tourists are taken in buses through townships to experience ‘authentic’ South Africa.”  (BTW, Deyi’s post also takes on a supposedly progressive variant of township tours, “social justice tours.”)

As for Camps Bay, it’s a largely white neighborhood of the super rich on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard, which is as much a legacy of Apartheid. There’s little else to add other than to say watch the video and see how all the whites featured do exactly what you thought they would do.  From the white man who announces that his dogs are barking because ‘they [the dogs] don’t recognize strangers.‘ Then there’s the people at a restaurant who are annoyed at this intrusion on their privacy and “Desmond,” “their black” (because that’s what he is), to deal with “these people.”

So apart from the comment on “township tours” (privacy is a privilege of the wealthy and the mostly white, poverty means you are ready to be on display, be a ‘type’), what the video does is gives you a sense of what most black people Cape Town have to keep up with everyday, including random violence, in “white spaces.”   On the upside, this kind of interrogation (on video) of white privilege in Cape Town (and elsewhere in South Africa) by black people is relatively new, and with increasing access to social media platforms like Youtube, and media production tools like  DSLRS we’ll see more of this. Kudos to LiveMag for being the first (as far as we can tell) to do this. We only wish the video was longer. Next up, there should be tours of places of forced removals.

  • Update: the link is broken.

Further Reading

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The opacity of Fanon

This week on AIAC Talk, we speak with Leswin Laubscher and Derek Hook about the phenomenology of Franz Fanon and the ways he is understood throughout different eras of time.