Home Articles The gentrification of Bo-Kaap: An alternative perspective

The gentrification of Bo-Kaap: An alternative perspective

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Humairaa Mayet | Image: Voice of the Cape | 28 November 2018

Bo-Kaap is a scenic, colourful area rich in flavour and heritage; but as the city of Cape Town has grown and Bo-Kaap has remained the same, developers are threatening to gentrify the community.
Speaking to Ebrahim Gangat on Salaamedia, Brendan Golding, councillor of Cape Town’s ward 77, described Bo-Kaap as “one of the most heritage worthy portions of Cape Town, if not the country.” Bo-Kaap is the second birthplace of Islam in the city and has mainly Muslim residents and many masaajid. Many of the current occupants of Bo-Kaap are there as a result of their forced removal from District Six in the 1960s and 1970s.
The growth of the inner city of Cape Town is obstructed by mountains which surround the CBD, stated Golding, making the land of Bo-Kaap- just on the side of Lions Head in Signal Hill- incredibly valuable. He further stated that Bo-Kaap is one of the few non-white enclaves which has managed to maintain its heritage and is “a bastion for the City of Cape Town.”
According to Golding, two main factors affecting the people of Bo-Kaap are the building of apartment blocks and property sales. Apartment blocks will raise the influx of people into the area, thereby raising expenses, and due to its location, land in Bo-Kaap has a high value, and therefore high rates and taxes. Individuals, specifically pensioners, who live in the area struggle to afford such high costs of living, and are likely to “sell out’ if given the opportunity.
Some residents of Bo-Kaap have accused others of having “sold out,” claimed Golding. However, it is difficult for individuals to hold onto their properties for the sake of the community when large sums of money are offered. He stated that people are being offered R 5-6 million for their homes.
Golding declared that Bo-Kaap attracts large amounts of tourism. This market space, if harnessed effectively, will benefit the community. He claimed that gentrification can be stopped if funds from tourism are used to assist the residents of Bo-Kaap; if they stand to gain they will not “sell out.” Yet he described this process as “an uphill battle” which is likely to span across years, if not decades.
Applications have been sent to the national government in order to have certain spaces of Bo-Kaap declared as heritage sights, stated Golding, and the city of Cape Town will look to implement heritage overlays.
Golding urged residents to focus on the positives, such as growth and tourism, instead of dwelling on internal problems. He described the people of Bo-Kaap as “a friendly, loving, open, caring community,” and stated that these traits can be used to attract tourists, thereby benefitting the residents, both culturally and monetarily.

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