From the Introduction: In Muizenberg you are never far from the beach, metaphorically or literally. The constant ebb and flow of waves, the smell and sounds of the ocean, the wind on your face, all entice you to forget. Forget you are in Muizenberg, forget you are in South Africa. Put aside, momentarily our troubled past that erodes into the present. Forget, if you can, try and forget and allow yourself to celebrate the beauty around you. Give yourself permission to step back and free wheel. To dream, to fly like a bird, to get lost and be found.
Beyond our dreams and flights of fantasy, Muizenberg collides and synergises as we look back and ahead, making new waves and layers in the present. Socio economically the place abuts the Cape Flats and rubs shoulders with the more affluent southern suburbs, sensitising itself to the broader issues in Cape Town and South Africa. Its beauty and environmental surrounds, perpetually ask questions of those who live here and those who have come to visit or escape.
Meg Samuelson has encapsulated this beautifully. “Sometimes people say that there are two Cape Towns: one gazes out across the sea; the other looks inward to the continent. But they are really talking about the Atlantic seaboard versus the Flats. Muizenberg and the False Bay coastline defy this duality. Here we all inhabit a liminal space. It’s edgy so not necessary hosting the kinds of harmony associated with the mythic rainbow nation, but it’s a place in which new ways of seeing and being are constantly renegotiated across various divides – between socially segregated worlds, bridging economic caesura and athwart the categories of human and nature.”
As a newcomer to this place, I have always walked my dogs, with my camera at the ready, for the past number of years. These images are a selection of those walkings and musings. They are moments or negotiations, caught on many of these journeys, as I lost myself in the blur and flurry exploring my new Home.
Although one inevitably tends to gravitate to the beach, Muizenberg, is much more than a beach, a dog walking destination or a surfer’s paradise. In attempting to understand my new home with greater attention, I intersected with and immersed myself in diverse expressions of ‘beach culture’. Those who came to undress, escape, and dress up again.; or who came to shed masks and find new identities; or to liberate themselves from the uncomfortable pasts and find themselves revelling in the now, free from the weight of politics and social burdens. All of these experiences illicited creative responses to a multi layered and complex environment.
The beach and my parallel musings, slowly emerged as a space to assert a sense of unpluggedness, to be dissected and reformatted in multiple ways. A space and place of celebration in a part of Cape Town, quite often misunderstood and misrepresented, beyond the postcard and the cliché. But more than that for now, at least, a place called Home, to be shared with multiple visitors, where its door is never really closed.
“Considering the post-apartheid beach historically helps to profile present shifts in the configuration of race, and highlights the long shadow cast by apartheid despite efforts toward the transformation of surfing. As such, the city remains a place neither beyond the waves nor the beach apart from society. In looking toward the future of the post-apartheid beach in South Africa, its past requires acknowledgement as ‘Surf City’ is reimagined in a society still undergoing change.”
Reimagining Surf City: surfing and the making of the post-apartheid beach in South Africa, The International Journal of the History of Sport, 28:15, 2126. Glen Thompson (2011)