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Lasting peace not achieved in Hangberg September 22, 2011

Posted by cmfry in Cape Town, Politics.
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Last night, I was privileged to be asked to provide musical accompaniment at the 1 year commemoration service of violence that erupted in Hangberg.

Hangberg is an underprivileged community in Hout Bay, a suburb of Cape Town. Some of the residents had built makeshift dwellings on a firebreak on the slope of the Sentinel, which belongs to the City and SA National Parks. When the city’s anti-land invasion unit moved in to remove the illegal structures, violence erupted. Some people were seriously injured in the ensuing fracas, and everyone was permanently scarred.

One year later, to the day, a peace accord was signed between the Peace and Mediation Forum (representing the community) and the City of Cape Town, led by the mayor, Patricia de Lille.
In the interfaith service, remembering the events that unfolded the previous year, you couldn’t help but feel that Hangberg is a community crying out to be heard. People still are in pain over the terrible events that transpired that fateful day. While the posters that were on display expressed the extremity of the community’s anger
 (And, it must be said, not everyone agreed with the wording of some of the posters), it was clear that, whatever was agreed in the peace accord, does not have this community’s full blessing. The Cape Argus has an article on the accord here.
Whatever the future will hold for this loving, yet broken community, it is clear that the peace accord has not yet provided a sustainable, lasting peace for them. At times during the service, that emotion was so prevalent, you couldn’t help but feel it yourself.
Let’s hope that all the role players in this matter realise the vast potential for a positive collaboration and transformation, and next year, when hopefully I will be asked to play again, the service will be one filled with unspeakable joy.

Why #Seattle is a good partner…. July 18, 2011

Posted by cmfry in Cape Town.
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Pike Place Market in Seattle

Image via Wikipedia

Today I was very privileged to be part of the #mondaythinktank hosted by FUTURECAPETOWN and today the question was which city should Cape Town look to form a partnership with?

Well, I was very lucky to have lived in Seattle, Washington and, being a born and bred Capetonian, of all the cities I have visited, this one best reminds me of home!

The feeling of nostalgia, old world charm yet modern chutzpah one gets when walking downtown is very simliar to the feeling one gets when strolling down St. George’s mall during a weekday lunchtime. And while Seattle is surrounded by lakes as opposed to our oceans, a stroll through Pike Place Market is almost as if you’re back in Kalk Bay or any other place south of Muizenberg.

Seattle has just as rich an arts and culture heritage as Cape Town, with Seattle having a diverse music base ranging from opera and claaiscal music to jazz to grunge rock, and, of course, it’s the birthplace of the legendary Jimi Hendrix.

As far as Sport is concerned, just like Cape Town, mainstream sport is woven into the psyche of the city, with the Mariners, Seahawks and Sonics garnering as partisan a following as the Cobras, the Stormers and Ajax Cape Town.

Seattle also has a well developed tourism industry, with a multitude of festivals happening throughout the year, covering a vast array of sectors within the regional economy.

Finally, Seattle prides itself on the many outdoor activities one can do in and around the city virtually througout the year. These activities change with the seasons. Although we are blessed with more natural abundance, surely we can learn from them as to how we can use our resources to maximise our brand. 

For more on the City of Seattle, please see their Official website

Thanks for the kickstart @futurecapetown ! There are vast opportunities for collaboration here!

Democracy as a way of life June 27, 2011

Posted by cmfry in Cape Town, DA, Politics.
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This past Saturday, our family spent some time with my wife Natasha’s colleague and friend, Bongani Mnisi, his wife Lulama and their little daughter, Tisani.

Around the braai fire, Bongani and I had quite an interesting discussion around the City of Cape Town and the relationship between democracy and conservation in the city. The conversation was interesting in that he is a manager within the field, and I, of course, was talking from a DA viewpoint. He was making the point that politicians from both the ANC and DA have made democracy an ideal, instead of a way of life. He was saying that when he speaks conservation, he has to use  different terminology to people from Constantia, as opposed to people from Cafda, but not because they might have different education levels, or interest levels. It stems from the mere point that conservation means different things to people from different areas, yet we all share the bountiful splendor of the natural beauty that is Cape Town. For some of us, conservation is a means towards a better understanding of our city, but for others, conservation might be a barrier in daily survival.

And wrapped up in all of this, the discussion eventually came to the point where we debated whether democracy had just become an ideal, that is building better roads, infrastructure and housing,  or whether we should strive for it to become a way of life. Should we not be striving for our people to be exercising democracy in everything they do, including something as important (especially in the Cape Town context) as conservation? Yes, we should be building houses, bulding roads, improving social infrastructure, and creating economies of scale, but are we doing it to improve the lives of our citizens, or are we doing it to create the illusion of democracy?

Patricia DeLille installed as Mayor of Cape Town June 1, 2011

Posted by cmfry in Cape Town, DA, Politics.
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I was privileged to be present in the council chamber at thee inaugural meeting of the city council of Cape Town, held on 1 June 2011.

As council meetings go, this was about as dignified as they come. And everything went according to plan, with Dirk Smit installed as speaker, and Patricia De Lille elected as mayor.

In her speech, she reiterated her commitments made during the campaign, with the fervour and zest that characterises her career. She outlined how Cape Town would become a more caring city through addressing various social issues including back yard dwellers, expanding the IRT system and engaging service delivery for all. She also thanked previous mayors, Dan Plato and Helen Zille, who was in the gallery.

The new mayor’s speech for the most part, drew the ire of the ANC, with the speaker having to call the house to order on more than one occasion.

In the reply session, Tony Ehrenreich, the ANC mayoral candidate continued to beat the same drum as during his campaign, bringing up the Makhaza toilet saga yet again, while bringing up the incorrect notion that the DA does not care for poor people. It is indeed sad that a man of his intellect can be so dishonest and driven by the nefarious agenda of others.

Ian Nielsen was voted in as Deputy Mayor & Anthea Serritslev elected unopposed as Chief Whip of the council.

Attached are some photos taken in the chamber.

Finally, my thanks to Alderman Garin Cavanagh for the invitation to attend today’s meeting.