Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Stellenbosch, near Cape Town, is a beautiful place. It's quite old - the oldest year number I have seen on a building is 1837. Full of low-rise houses (one or max two floors); lots of lovely little shops, coffee shops, restaurants, a university described as 'Ivy League'....and yet and yet....

There seems to be a white part of town and a black part of town (that with the cheap shops, including a rather smelly fish shop). Black people are seen as shop assistants, gardeners, tradesmen - though I saw a fair number around the university. In the viola congress the audience is white; the South African violists playing today were white (though one had a Russian name and a playing style similar to Bashmet's, rather attacking a Brahms sonata).

To us Europeans it looks as if nothing has changed.....I suspect Stellenbosch is rather a middle-class town - but does it all need to be white? We are very conscious about it, or, I wonder, is it our prejudices speaking and our way at looking at South Africa which is out of date? Are we overlooking the middle-class blacks? I wonder what it will be in Cape Town when I go there on the weekend.