Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Coven

There are several attributes that make Cape Town such an exquisite place to live in but despite all her graces and charms, the Mother City is not without her flaws. The blustering South-easterly winds, our superior attitude towards the eighth wonder of the world, the fact that our weekends begin at 2pm on a Friday and the yo-bro "more-is-nog-'n-dag" mentality. It's all part of who we are at the end of the day, and while our tardiness ranges from fashionably late to no-show, there is one aspect about Cape Town culture that doesn't seem to click well, especially to a stranger trying to find her feet on a turf as foreign and laid back as ours.

It's no secret. Capetonians are notoriously cliquey, especially the fairer sex who have earned a bad rep for guarding their inner circles like bulldogs. Female friendships are far more permanent and stronger than the bonds of a band of brothers, so when you finally find a group of friends who aren't trying to sleep with your husband or stab you in the back, you're going to be protective. Like thieves, we are thick and rarely let anything or anyone penetrate the fold without a fight or some rite of passage into our exclusive coven of Cape Town camaraderie. On the one hand, it's perfectly normal to form close associations with people who share similar interests with you, but on the other, limiting our interaction to the same bunch of people can be somewhat socially stunting.

So what is it that makes Capetonians clique? Is it our race or social status? Is it our inability to deviate from our comfort zones, our preference to follow and never lead? What's the point of being a rainbow nation if you can't experience every colour in the spectrum? Are adult interactions like high school hierarchies all over again, only this time dating the teacher and smoking in public is socially acceptable as long as they fit in? Why is it so hard to make friends in a city as vibrant and culturally diverse as Cape Town?  

"Whoever said that this was one of the friendliest cities in ZA was seriously talking shit!" Meet Zola; a former Gautengalenger who moved to Cape Town less than a year ago to pursue her career as a sports psychologist. At the tender age of 27, this intelligent, opinionated, sometimes louder-than-life, Nubian coo-girl from Bryanston was offered a dream job with one of the biggest local sports brands in Mzanzi. As hard as the decision was to make, she decided to pack her life into her GP convertible and move to a comfortably-sized apartment in Claremont.

I met Zola earlier this year whilst working on a never-ending Sport's documentary that recently caused the resurgence of my ongoing battle with impetigo. At first I was intimidated by her confidence and giraffe-like presence only to find out that she was actually no taller than me and like most fashionable ladies, had a secret affinity for seven inch heels. It didn't take long for me to warm up to Zola who was actually pretty freaking awesome and hilarious. Her dance moves needed some serious work though and coming from a white girl, that's saying something.

I was finding it hard to believe that Zola, who had been here for 10 months already, had struggled to meet a single decent girlfriend. At first I thought it was geographical. I mean she lived in Claremont, where the general female population is segregated into housewives, mothers, trashy students who whore it up at Tiger Tiger or trust fund intellectuals hanging onto their youth at wine bars such as Oblivion. Zola was definitely not vapid enough to be part of the Camps Bay cult so instead, I introduced her to a group of stable 30-something year old's to dispel the myth of Cape Town elitism.

I thought I was going to burn at the stake for bringing this Voodoo priestess into our midst, and even though Sabrina and Wendy (who have both been banished since) had made the effort to get along with her, the rest of my coven had suddenly turned. The high priestess was not impressed by the fact that Zola wasn't your stereotypical African, and felt threatened by her natural allure. She was schooled, without accent, extremely attractive, in no way a princess and could easily pass for a jock with her knowledge on sport.

Although she tried to get on with the girls, Zola spent most of the afternoon hanging round a cauldron of char-grilled chicken and boerewors, chatting to the boys about rugby. Bubble, bubble, bitch and grumble. I could hear my sisters cursing and hexing beneath their breath. I couldn't believe how cold and inhospitable they were being. I felt the urge to beat them with the broomsticks they rode in on for proving me wrong but unfortunately, there it was. The Cape Town clique-ness that we are so well-known for. Are Cape Town girls really that unwelcoming or are they just selective about the people who pledge their sorority? Either way, Zola and I wriggled our noses and click-clacked the hell out of there.

As bewitching as our beautiful city may be, it's not always easy to conjure up quality friendships, especially when you're the new girl in town. If you don't fit into a certain mould, group or stereotype, you're pretty much screwed, unless you are fortunate enough to find a bunch of rogue souls who aren't afraid to embrace diversity and welcome individuality without prejudice or judgement. When you find them, hold on because we are sadly one in a million.

When it comes to making that magical connection with friends, why are some girls such a bitch about it?


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