How to Act Like You’re From Cape Town

As holiday makers descend on Cape Town, the choice is to be quickly identified as an out-of-towner – whether it is by wearing khaki shorts and sensible shoes or holding a camera – or to fit in and act like a local. For anyone choosing the latter, here’s a handy guide to being a Capetonian.

Illustration by Trevor Romain,
  1. Dislike Johannesburg

This is incredibly important. If you want to be a true Capetonian, you have to dislike the City of Gold. There’s no explicable reason for this, besides perhaps that it has no mountains or sea, which makes it possibly the most unfortunate city on Earth. The dislike is certainly returned, but everyone in Cape Town knows that Joburgers are just jealous.

  1. Love the beautiful city you live in

This is also incredibly important. Cape Town is the best place in the world. It’s as simple as that. And even though you are acutely aware of its downfalls, you steadfastly ignore them and support Cape Town until the end. Especially if someone from Joburg tries to insult your precious city. They don’t even have a hill, let alone a mountain – how dare they say anything bad about your beloved city?

  1. Make plans you don’t intend following through with

Making fake plans comes just as naturally as disliking Joburg. This may be a characteristic of many cities, but in Cape Town you use it to your advantage continuously. Having so many acquaintances and friends – you can’t even count them all, there are so many – makes it difficult to maintain strong relationships with all of them. When you do run into each other, then, you explain how desperately you want to make plans, but you never follow up. It’s easy to do once you practice enough. The great thing is, it makes you seem caring and nice but you don’t have to do things you don’t really want to do.

  1. Leave work early on Friday

While this only applies to you if you come to Cape Town to work, it explains to everyone else why there is so much traffic from around about midday on Friday. Despite the fact that you are incredibly busy all the time, you still manage to find some spare time to escape the office before the day’s end. The time you leave changes as summer approaches and the beaches beckon. The thinking is: “I’m already taking an hour off for lunch now, but might as well just take off the rest of the day.”

  1. Enjoy the drive…slowly

This is one of the main things that Joburgers despise about Capetonians – apparently we are all terrible drivers. This is untrue. Capetonians are all experts at enjoying every aspect of life, and rather than get angry while driving and arriving at your destination in a foul mood, you rather take it slow, save petrol and enjoy the views of all your many beautiful seas and mountains.

  1. Lie about the real temperature of the ocean

As the beach is one of the most important aspects of Cape Town, you will do anything to prove how amazing they are. Cape Town has perfect white sand, lovely crystal-clear water and even a few scattered palm trees. However, the water is freezing. But you will persevere and suffer through it in order to show everyone what a great time you are having, and how wonderful your city is. You look at it this way: When it’s so hot, the water needs to be so cold it gives you pins and needles in order to escape the heat. Plus, if you stay in for long enough you go numb, so the cold doesn’t matter anymore.

  1. Post thousands of pictures of sunsets

Cape Town has loads of beautiful sunsets, due of course to those plentiful seas and mountains. However, every evening Capetonians are once again shocked by how beautiful the sunset is and take yet more photos of it. You are not truly Capetonian unless your Instagram or Facebook pages have at least 100 pictures of the sunset and at least 10 of you sipping champagne on a beach watching said sunset.

  1. Be aggressively trendy

Capetonians are incredibly proud of being on top of every trend. From gluten-free pizzas to everything-bacon restaurants and from choker necklaces to denim shirts, you are always on top of the game and will quickly join in on a new trend regardless of the price. In fact, Capetonians may even be up to the same standards as New Yorkers. So suck on that, Joburg, while we Capetonians suck on our vegan lollipops.

  1. Use the term “now-now”, no matter how long you mean

This is something that has confused non-Capetonians for years. “Now-now” for most South Africans means in the next five minutes, but in Cape Town it means in the next five minutes – or up to a year from now. You hate any sort of pressure or deadline, and in order for you to produce the best results from any task you have to do it in your own time, maybe after relaxing on the beach for awhile.

  1. Participate in at least one extreme sport

As you all know, Cape Town has loads of mountains and seas. Therefore you have an extensive playground for outdoor sports. Kite surfing, paragliding, base jumping, rock climbing, surfing, diving, the list just goes on and on. If you do not regularly participate in some form of outdoor sport you are besmirching the Capetonian name and might as well be pulling the middle finger at your bountiful city. You might as well stay indoors all day … or move to Joburg.

  1. Never plan too far in advance 

You, as a Capetonian, thrive on being relaxed. You never ask anyone to hurry up, or make a commitment, and you expect them to do likewise. That is not how we work. Besides being relaxed, you are also incredibly indecisive. You worry that if you make a plan for tomorrow, you may no longer feel like doing it tomorrow – and you should never have to do anything you don’t want to do.

  1. Always be fashionably late

You are never on time. Never. It’s embarrassing to be the first person arriving at an event, as well as boring. But as everyone thinks the same thing, arrival times get later and later, until eventually it’s too early to arrive at a party at 10pm, even though the party began two hours earlier. If you want to fit in, ensure you are at least two hours late everywhere you go, because you can be sure everyone else will be late too.

Catherine Franklin is an Honours graduate from UCT, and is currently working her way towards her dream job of being a journalist. Much of her writing has been published on her blog catchingcapetown