Sustainable Development, Globalization, and the Cape Town Stadium.
Sustainable Development for who?
This is the final post in a four-part-series investigating the idea of sustainable development in relation to recent construction in Green Point, the neighborhood where much of Cape Town's World Cup activity is taking place. This post focuses specifically on the Cape Town Stadium and how notions of public access inform an idea about sustainable development. [The previous posts 1. introduce the area of Green Point 2. describe the controversy surrounding the human remains unearthed during the construction of the Rockwell Building 3. tell the story of what happened to those remains.] Each post raises questions about sustainable development, emphasizing the importance of considering social and historical contexts, notions of memory and heritage, and definitions of public-ness, if the intent is to try to envision a form of development that is truly sustainable.
In this post we hear from Nick Shepherd, an archaeologist and professor at the University of Cape Town, and Ciraj Rassool, a District 6 council member who was formerly a member of the "Hands off Prestwich" Committee. Nick and Ciraj offer a less-than-glamorous portrait of the World Cup stadium; they discuss how the construction of the stadium further entrenches a sense of racial and class separation in Capetonian society, benefiting the white upper class and, in some ways, reaffirming the segregation enforced by the Apartheid government. According to them, it's not exactly an emblem of sustainable development.
"It's just so part of the white city, it's so there. The real question is about its after life. What happens afterwards? How is it used afterwards? Who goes there afterwards?"
"The stadium is part of a public precinct; around the stadium that is all public land. When are the big debates about public access going to take place? What does it mean "public access"? What does it mean to have a park? What kind of events do you hold there? What kind of gatherings? That could potentially speak to new forms of citizenship.
"The people of the Cape Flats need to be figured as the people of Cape Town. The people who were removed from Cape Town need to re-own the city. And they cannot do so via property because of property value, but they can do so via their presence in cultural ways.
"The whole of the city is lost through property. This city is driven by property development."
"It's totally unclear how that stadium gets paid for. It's our children in fact who will pay for it; their children will be paying for it. That's how it works. So, the economic argument is in no way clear-cut. Yes, it benefits a few people now; mainly it benefits a few people who are already positioned to make a lot of money out of it. It will benefit a small number of key players. And the middle classes probably.
"The siting [of the stadium] is so weird. If it was in Athlone or Khayelitsha yea, possibly the places where sporting facilities are really needed. Really if you take the historical view: apartheid beneficiaries will now be world cup beneficiaries. Is that great? There is massive development in the city; most if it is stupid development that benefits a handful of very rich people and does nothing at all to improve quality of life or of our perception of the city as livable space for the majority of Capetonians.
"You take ways of life, which belong to a particular place and you take a particular embedded local history and you retool them to fit a set of global tourist imaginaries. And the idea is: it's actually all ok, it's all fine.
"There's a [notion] which directs us to think about every story having two sides: there's this side and then there's the other side. But I'm always mistrustful of those ideas. I think they're all the same side, but there are different ways of telling. There might be narratives and counter narratives but they twist and twine in particular ways. I don't think it happens that you have something called global capital which is very insurgent and you have cultural globalization and all of these things. I don't think that happens and then somehow preserved in tact in a separate space, in a separate sphere, you have the people, the masses. People are the subjects of the forces of cultural globalization and are profoundly transformed. I don't know where these insurgent citizens of Cape Town come from.
"There are two responses. One is where you feel angry and resisted. I think that's appropriate as a response when you want to imagine things differently. But then the other spirit is to approach this thing is through irony and humor and a sense of the ridiculous. Because so many of these manifestations are just crazy.
The research for this story was conducted by Christian Ernsten and myself.