Jou Ma se Mother City

According to local tongue-in-cheek explanation of the origin of Cape Town being called “The Mother City”, it’s a play on the Cape vernacular that involves a lot of referring to ‘your mother’ and a reference to her genitalia, mostly when angered. Known to move at a slower pace than Johannesburg, the joke extends to it taking 9 months to complete anything in Cape Town. It is probably more likely that it is derived from the Greek derivation of metropolis, where metro means mother and polis a city. Nonetheless, it sure is South Africa’s most brilliant gem in its crown and if it weren’t the mother, it would be a queen!

It is vibrant, multicultural and has more of a European flair than an African characteristic, a result of its tragic, colonial past. It’s the meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and the southernmost tip of Africa. The breathtaking beauty enhanced by the dramatic backdrop of Table Mountain.

Once you have slept in the shadow of the great mountain, you shall always return.
I slept in the shadow of the great Table Mountain for many years during my schooling and then lived on to simply view its magnificence. The Deutsche Schule Kapstadt lies at the foothill of Lions Head and our boarding house bedroom window looked straight onto its sheer magnificence. How often we witnessed the vicious dance of flames on its rugged slopes in the dry season. Telling each other stories of a Dutch man called Jan van Hunks who lived on the windy peaks and entered into a pipe-smoking contest with the devil and won, but not before the smoke that they had created had settled on the mountain.That is how the mountain got its table cloth. The fires raged on, we felt sorry for all the animals that would perish in the fire. We reminded ourselves that the fynbos rather likes to be burnt down every few years, that fire is the mechanism that recycles precious nutrients from old moribund growth into the soil, that fire provides the stimulus for dormant seeds to germinate, for new opportunities to grow and flower. We listened to the Cape Doctor, the strong south-easterly wind, fanning the fire over the table top, and we wondered why the Cape Doc would burn us on the one hand and heal us, by blowing all the pollution away and sending the rain up North, on the other hand.

It is said that every continent has a source of energy, and Africa has two.One in Egypt, the pyramids, and the other Table Mountain. That is why I will always need to return to jou Ma se Mother City.


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