Cape Town photo

“In some sections of South Africa 38% of men, two in five, admit to having forced a woman to have sex, but what’s going on in Cape Town right now is at least just as bad as that kind of widespread violation, worse than the coltan slavery.” — one of the author’s home schooled teenage students

In the most recent edition of Lonely Planet‘s travel guide for Cape Town, South Africa, they score the “environmental progress” in that realm. And since that publication has a reputation for being down-to-earth with regard to its descriptions and advice, I thought that what they offer up would be of interest to readers in light of the unprecedented turn of events taking place right now in the oldest urban area of South Africa, the Mother City. I trust that my punch line below will be instructive for one and all the world over… with the world seeming to be headed toward being over soon.

As you read this, keep in mind, if you will, that no one I know has heard a word about the catastrophe which is now officially unfolding. Even though it’s been building in blatant ways for years. That’s a major point to take away from this piece.

First, though, cue into what Lonely Planet has to say. They note that in 2014 Cape Town scored highly on Siemens’ African Green Cities Index, and was praised for its comprehensive Energy and Climate Change Action Plan and policies to contain urban sprawl and protect green space. Some of the areas that beg for improvement include having the highest carbon-dioxide emissions per capita from electricity consumption in the index, and the second highest generation of waste, according to Lonely Planet. They balance that negative, however, by underscoring that there are city initiatives in gear to tackle waste generation, including schemes to separate recyclables before collection and an Integrated Waste Exchange program to facilitate the exchange of potentially useful materials.

One is left with a fairly rosy picture, nothing at all being said about their water crisis, which has been escalating for years behind repeated droughts.

Is anyone surprised that a publisher of travel guides would tend to commit such a sin of omission? Be inclined to ignore facts which would play out as huge negatives for tourists who would recoil in horror at having to travel abroad with a conservationist’s mindset? No, of course not. For it’s the same dynamic, essentially, that everyone witnessed watching the movie Jaws, being entertained by a plot the runs parallel to the real life scenarios we all witness incessantly in this self-serving world of citizens who do not consider themselves citizens of the world. Bottom line first, yes?

This is not to foul mouth Billionaire Brad, publisher of the LP guide books, as not a single travel guide for Africa at my local bookstore provided a word about the dwindling potable water in Cape Town. Brad Kelly, known to many as a singular philanthropist, sponsoring projects like The Center for The Conservation of Tropical Ungulates in Florida. As the fourth-largest land owner in the U.S., he’s well-positioned to do such good in the world.

Selling over a 100 million guide books representing only a small part of his income, he certainly could do more, though, yes? Yes. [Pause.] Like… be honest with his customers. Ditto for the other publishers cited above.

But truth be told, none of the career politicians in South Africa, and too few of those who call the shots with NGOs there, care one whit about the Collective Good. And the reason that’s worth noting for readers is that it’s quite typical worldwide, isn’t it? Yes, it is.

Vananda Shiva’s Water Wars delineates community-based approaches for dealing with what Cape Town is going down about at present. And her recommendations are timely for one and all. For there’s not a place on earth that will not be affected by the dynamic that Cape Town is going through, especially as we watch it repeated in all sorts of other unexpected quarters, the public also not having been sufficiently warned and prepared for the worst… anywhere.

Thirst must come first… when it comes to education, I’d say. And as an educator who’s mother was born in South Africa (with many lovely reminiscences of Cape Town resonating at the moment), I advise parents, teachers and others to take special note of the atrocious, unnecessary momentum in Cape Town. It used to be a beautiful place, but neither surrounding physical beauty nor college degrees or high teas will see anyone through a winter or summer or fall or spring without water, yes? Yes.

Africa has been raped directly for centuries. Now we witness what I call indirect rape… violation through neglect.

Yes, it used to be that rich folks would skin the head and neck of an animal to prepare a hunting trophy from the Dark Continent, cape them. Today… we don’t prepare for anything anywhere. Talk talk, but no walk talk.

And that’s a function, in part, of wealthy people protecting a bottom line which is at odds with telling the truth about what is, arguably, the most precious substance on earth. In lieu of that we get misleading, self-serving facts and figures about our green realms, progress being made. Disingenuous declarations.

Such Cape Rape deserves to have the word EMERGENCY! screamed out loud. To stop it.

Something can be done.

Valleria Ruselli is a member of the Oxman Collective. She can be reached at [email protected].



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