Written by Ilse Harmse
friday, 15 october 2021, 20:11
about Stellenbosch, sometime after 18:00
i got caught in the rain this evening.
maybe caught isnt the right word. i knew it would rain today, so as i was walking back from my cousin's res, Concordia, and the rain started i was prepared for it.
i noticed that this wasnt the case for everyone wandering around this evening. there were men rushing down the street in blue coveralls or security uniforms, students in k-way jackets and long coats walking with umbrellas on the pavements, and homeless men and women hidden away under trees or next to the tall buildings, shielding themselves from the wind and rain.
the rain gives a clear indication of who Stellenbosch accommodates and who it spurns. students move about in comfort, without fear of getting caught out in the rain, while the working men and women rush though the rain to leave and return to a more obliging space, but homeless people are reduced to huddling under thin blankets and braving the weather to remain in the hostile territory.
the weather showed that Stellenbosch only remains accommodating to a select populace.
saturday, 16 october 2021, 11;03.
about Stellenbosch, sometime after 10:30.
mornings in Stellenbosch are not particularly busy.
but there's something heavy about this morning - maybe its because of the panic-attack i had this morning at res before my test or maybe it was the girl i saw in the bathroom at our venue, going through the same thing - i think it may be the fact that it was not only students occupying the town this morning.
i saw quite a few tourists walking through the streets and that unsettled something about Stellenbosch for me. many were looking up at the contrasting buildings - the cape-dutch style roofs and the victorian designs and the sleek modern architecture - all existing on the same street and not paying much attention to their immediate surroundings. i noticed how easily and freely they moved about the area, clutching their bags to their chests and pointing out little, hidden boutiques to one another, anxiously passing students and the occasional homeless person.
this stuck out to me.
the fact that the homeless people and students are as much part of the infrastructure of Stellenbosch as the buildings are. we occupy the space much like these buildings do. some of us exist in a big way - in the way these sleek modern buildings do - standing out and taking up space, playing soccer or rugby on campus. some of us exist in smaller, more fragile ways - like the once great victorian or cape-dutch style buildings – like crying students outside the Engineering Building or panic-attacks at Harmonie Ladies Residence. and others exist like a secret - like hidden boutiques and untrodden short cuts - like the homeless and begging men and women on the streets, in the alley ways, on the rooi plein, outside the Willcocks.
Stellenbosch contains multitudes, all that occupy the space differently, although im not sure why some are entitled to take up space and others need to use as little as possible. Stellenbosch doesnt discriminate between who or what it contains, it’s the populace’s attitudes that determines who is allowed to exist so freely.