At the top of the mountain, on the one side of the N2 passing through Knysna, you have the townships of Knysna overlooking the town with a perfect view of the famous Knysna heads.
The view from White Location (a township in Knysna) is truly a view to die for. It is the kind of view that those in property would price at exorbitantly high prices. It is the kind of view that those with resources would build a home easily worth R10-million going up. It is the kind of view that holiday resort developers would scavenge for. This view is the kind of view, that under a capitalist system those without resources would only but dream for, as their only interaction with it would be to work its’ grounds and clean the rooms of the houses and resorts on it.
However, in this instance this view currently still remains in the hands of those who are without resource; it currently remains in the hands of the proletariat and the working class. It must be stated, that there have already been attempts to take this breath-taking view away from the proletariat.
Driving up that slope I thought to myself wow!!! The people living on this slope are so fortunate. I thought my-oh-my I would love to have a view like this! I was in awe!!! I had a perfect view of the Knysna Heads! I could see where the town starts and where it ends! I could look over the entire town! Then I thought again, do the people living on this slope apprehend the beauty of the view that they have every single morning, every single day, every single night? Does it mean anything to them? With all the challenging realities and social ills that they are faced with every single day, do they even have the pleasure to appreciate this incredible view? Many around the world travel across the world chasing the greatest sunsets; however on this slope we will find many homes built with the back of home against the sunset with no back-porch. When I saw that view I thought of it as being therapeutic; do the people living on this slope even have time to take in and internalize this view as such? Living in a back room shack without a stable job and no certainty of where your next meal will come from; would one honestly have the luxury of appreciating this view?
So, others may want to argue that this land could then be sold to those who could develop it and those currently living shacks and small homes on that slope could be compensated with enough resource to be able to build bigger solid homes elsewhere. But that slope does have value to the people currently living on it; it has historic value of heritage and one’s sense of belonging. Many people living in the townships of Knysna are surviving loved-ones of migrants who left the homelands and went to Knysna to find employment in the timber factories. Knysna was built by the hands of the forefathers of many who currently live in these townships.
Remember: ‘land is not just an issue of economic or commercial importance – it has meaning at many levels. It’s very spiritual. It is in land that we bury our people; we connect and speak to our ancestors. It is from land that we eat and survive.’ – D.Moseneke
So, before I even go into an argument of who exactly deserves a good view? Who exactly fits the category and criteria of having a breath-taking view? The bottom line of this article is that value is relative; value is cultural; value is personal… Value is far more than money!
Written by Nompendulo Mkatshwa, a BSc Geography Graduate from University of the Witwatersrand, PGCE Candidate University of South Africa, Former President Student Representative Council Wits, Former South African Students Congress Chairperson at Wits and Former Deputy Chairperson of Wits ANC Youth League.
Nompendulo Mkatshwa is a regular Polity columnist.