Stay Smart About Africa

Real Life in Cape Town, South Africa

How pursuing your dreams (and passions) can have a positive impact on society.

Living in one of the most collaborative, culturally unique cities in the world, the concept of remaining authentically unique to who you are, is becoming ever more challenging.  Finding your authenticity, living in it (while embracing your dreams), connecting with others in our culturally diverse setting has never been more challenging, yet more rewarding at the same time.

Amidst all these cultural changes and demands, raising a family also has its own challenges.  Living in a city where more and more children have left orphans and come from severely broken families, the importance of finding the necessary balance between your own work and family life, has never been so important.

Living in the northern suburbs of Cape Town, also means living in an area with a very high divorce rate.  Shocking as it may be, people seem to continue living their lives, never skipping a beat, never taking a break to realize the devastating effects this is having on our society as a whole.

Refusing to embrace the fast-pace life that the larger world culture expects from us, people are starting to turn to entrepreneurship and following their dreams. Putting aside the chase for money, slowly but surely people are realising the importance of family and starting to strive to rebuild society on the solid foundation of love and pursuing the true meaning of life.

Entrepreneurship and family

One such family has been pursuing their passion and making a living from this, for the past couple of years.  Alistair, a successful freelance illustrator, and his wife, Karen, live in the northern suburbs of Cape Town with their two kids.  They both grew up in Cape Town and absolutely love the city.  When I asked Karen if they ever thought about living somewhere else, she simply replied: “to be honest, I cannot imagine living anywhere else in South Africa.”

They love living in Durbanville which is one of the urban towns of the Northern Suburbs.  It is central (30km radius) to a great variety of interesting places.  There is literally something to do for any kind of mood, on any given day.  From visiting the CBD if you feel like drinking fresh coffee in the city buzz; to sipping a glass of wine while relaxing in the tranquil surroundings of the winelands.  What is not to love about the beautiful compilation of activities and surroundings?

Besides living in Cape Town, Karen has spent some time living in the UK.  What makes Cape Town unique though for them is the fact that it is surrounded by beautiful mountains, beaches, winelands, nature reserves and so much more.  Apart from this, Cape Town also lies in the middle of a city buzz, which they love.

You can be in a corporate meeting one moment and within 10 minutes be on top of Table Mountain or take a walk along the beach.  Being surrounded by various cultures in one city also comes with a variety of food and music, which is always enriching.  And, in general, the people of Cape Town are extremely warm-hearted and friendly, which naturally makes you feel at home – even when you are not.

Alistair has been a freelance illustrator for the past 16 years, focusing mainly on children’s and educational books.  Karen is currently a full-time mom, who has also recently started with a new creative venture to encourage and uplift children.

Together, they have a passion to develop art-based products which can be used as creative tools to positively influence and impact children’s lives.   Considering the society in which we live, where people are becoming more and more distant from each other, this is a brilliant endeavour to assure our kids that we are aware of what’s happening in their lives, and, that we want to keep on encouraging them in whatever they do.

Karen and Alistair absolutely love people in general and she also spends quite a lot of time facilitating groups where people are motivated to have a positive impact on the people in their homes and in their own communities.

Their weekends start off by winding down with their kids at home on the couch with popcorn and movies – which Alistair often calls “research” for the work he does!

During the summer months, they usually spend their Saturday mornings at their son’s baseball match.  Afterwards, they love to do a bit of gardening, visit the beach close by or just hang out in coffee shops.  Another great activity to do is to seek out little treasures in any of the second-hand shops in the area, or to visit local craft markets.  There are so many in Cape Town which they love!

Realizing how important the concept of family is, they love to entertain friends at home for lunches or “braais” (barbeques) in the evening. Building solid relationships naturally happen when people eat together.

During the winter months, they tend to go into hibernation  This means going to the movies, hanging out in bookstores and visiting those friends who have indoor braais at their homes.

To get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, all one has to do is travel a bit further.  About 120km from Durbanville, up the East Coast, lays the beautiful town of Hermanus.  Unwinding there whenever they can is exactly what is needed when things get too much.

A 120km up the West Coast, is another beautiful town called, Langebaan, where they love to spend weekends with the family.   About 120km inland lays the most amazing little town of Tulbagh where close family lives, on a farm.  Everything comes to a standstill the minute you drive through the gates of this tranquil place.  This family absolutely loves to be in the city buzz, but often just need to get away to recharge their batteries.

Dreams and love

It is evident that in this diverse city, people are becoming more aware of the fact that life is too short to pursue someone else’s dream.  We have all been gifted with such unique talents and I truly believe that we should use those talents to better the society we live in.

One such couple, who are following their dreams and pursuing the things they love, is Inge and Ruan.

One of the main reasons they decided to live in Cape Town is because it is listed as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  Not only is it the beauty that drew them in but also the fact that it is one of the most diverse cities in the world.

Nowhere else in South Africa is the term, rainbow nation, as visible as it is in Cape Town.

It is the ever-growing and ever-changing art capital of South Africa.  Whether it is new galleries, artists, bands or interesting coffee shops popping up everywhere, there is always something new and exciting happening.  The food culture in Cape Town is absolutely amazing and you can literally have anything, from Indian to Asian to traditional African cuisines, anywhere close-by.

The Cape Town weather is also something which most people love about this city.  The sunny summers are great for outdoor movies and picnics while the rainy winter days are the best days to snuggle under a cosy blanket and have some hot chocolate or a nice glass of wine.

Compared to other parts of South Africa and other countries they have lived in, Cape Town has the most laid-back people in the world.  Even though there are high work ethics, the people are very relaxed and enjoy having a good time.  And when people are having a good time, friendships are built and dreams are shared.  And I truly believe that people need to be reminded of what they are passionate about and good at.  This is just one of the reasons why this couple is such an inspiration to me.  No matter how difficult it might be, they keep on pursuing their dreams and inspiring others around them to do the same.

Ruan is a Lifestyle Manager and photographer, while his wife, is a Graphic Designer and illustrator.  Through their individual work, they showcase a deep respect for the environment, diversity and acceptance of others and their beliefs – which are all very prominent features of this city.

On a typical weekend in Cape Town, when they are not working, they love to explore our city at large.  Because Cape Town and its surroundings are so scenic, it is obviously a photographer’s dream place to live and discover new things.  Being able to capture new places in Cape Town is what keeps their inspiration alive.  That is how new ideas are formed and fresh motivation to encourage others, are gathered.

Saturdays are spent trying out new restaurants or cute little cafes.  It is also the best time to go running on the promenade and visit with friends.  Spending time at home, having a “braai” on their balcony and making sure they stay connected, is also one of their prime values.  With a beautiful view over-looking the city and Lion’s head, it is the perfect setting to talk about everything that has happened during the past week.  Sunday afternoons remains a favourite time for many Capetonians.  This is the time for a leisurely beach walk and of course, ice cream.

When you want to get out of the city, your options are limitless.  You are spoiled for choice get-away weekends in and around Cape Town.  It usually helps to look for the best deals and luckily they are everywhere to be found.  A weekend away at the Breede River Valley, Ceres or Wellington is just what is needed to recharge.

There is so much to do and so much to explore around Cape Town, all at a reasonable price.  Wine tasting, horseback riding and picnics are just some of the few things they like to include in a weekend away.

Looking at the lives of my friends I am so privileged to be surrounded with people who pursue their dreams and, however difficult it might be, continuously strive to perfect their craft and finding their individuality in a city bustling with talent.  In a city with such diversity and creativity, it is easy to be discouraged.  However, I do believe that if we are willing to learn from one another, it will not only create a better collective society, but it is also a strong force which could better unite our country.

Given the past history of South Africa, I strongly believe that people are striving to be united as one nation.  Everywhere I look I see groups of different ethnicities coming together to improve and unite our country.  I have always believed that creativity in any form, speaks across all cultural and language barriers and it is such a privilege to live in a city where I see this happening and where I can be a part of the solution – surrounded by friends who are already living the change.

Living the change

Another family, who is a great example of living the change, and addressing the social problem of “fatherlessness”, specifically in Cape Town, is Dawie and Madie.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the number of orphans and children given up for adoption in our area alone, are increasing by the day.  I strongly believe that living here in Cape Town we are all called to be a part of the solution and should have a part, in whichever way we can, in providing a family for these children who did not ask to be here in the first place.

Originally their main reason for moving to Cape Town was because of their careers.  Madie is a brilliant cook and to get the best experience possible in her field of Hospitality and Catering, Cape Town has always been the best option.

Without her knowing, moving to Cape Town would change her life forever.  This is where she met her husband.  They met on the corporate side of entertainment and as they started chatting, they became close friends.  This eventually led to their marriage and she has never looked back.

Dawie grew up in Cape Town, and living anywhere else has never been an option for him.  Being an entrepreneur in the entertainment industry, living in Cape Town has always been the best choice for him.

Both having a big love for the culinary art and diversity which Cape Town offers I can clearly see that this connection, not only creates comradery within their marriage, but it also creates a space for others to relax and cultivate a love for one another – which ultimately strengthens our society.

When Madie first moved to Cape Town it was not only the food, wine & coffee industry which enchanted her but also the mountains and vineyards.

The breath-taking surroundings absolutely make it feel like you are living on a farm.  Apart from the mountains, the access to such a variety of places makes it an obvious choice for them to stay in Cape Town.  Having access to wine farms, museums, art galleries and food markets, all within a 20km radius is what everyone dreams of!

Dawie and Madie are both entrepreneurs and thus another example of people passionately following and living their dream.  It is by no means the easier route to take, career-wise, but people everywhere are becoming more aware of the fact that life is too short to be stuck in a situation, or job, that you hate.  More and more people are coming to realize the importance of family and the value that you can add to a healthy society, by making sure that your family is healthy.

This amazing couple has started a few of their own small businesses in the area, and love working on new ventures together – especially in the entertainment and culinary arena. This causes them to work mostly on weekends when other people would be free. However, it is what they are passionate about and really great at!

Apart from simultaneously running a few companies, another brave step they have taken was to adopt a baby boy.  Making him part of their family has been such a brave and life-changing step.  They are normal people like me and you, and creating space to love a child unto your own, has been such an inspiration to me and many other people in our midst.

Our society really has a problem of “fatherlessness” and I truly hope that it will become so normal for us as a South African people to create families where strong fathers and mothers take responsibility to teach and love our children unto a better, stronger, kinder, loving society in the future.  It definitely comes with its own challenges and sacrifices, but I believe in the long run it will bring around a revival in our great, diverse nation.

The future

If we choose it, living in Cape Town allows us to bring our authentic selves to the table.  There is space for people to be culturally and artistically unique. I believe that if we allow others to be uniquely themselves and if we can create an atmosphere of acceptance, our skillset and artistic living will be something that speaks across boundaries to create a unified tomorrow.  That’s real life in Cape Town.

+ posts

Anel Conradie is a contributing writer, editor and proof-reader. With a background in teaching English literature and language she now pursues her own writing career. She is an Alumna of Stellenbosch University, in Cape Town. Growing up in Namibia, Anel has a deep appreciation of the vastness of nature which echoes the vastness of humanity. “I love to write about the complexity of our humanity and that which forms our very core identity.”

We are committed to Africa
Will You Support Us?

Unlike many global publications, for nearly a decade we have been committed to showing a complete picture of Africa – not just a single story.  Offended by one-sided coverage of wars, disasters and disease, the founders of created a website that provides a balanced view of Africa – current events, business, arts & culture, travel, fashion, sports, information, development, and more.
%d bloggers like this: