Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA
City lights - bright and inviting. Breathtaking beauty, our city invites you to come and explore.

If you grew up in areas like the Eastern Cape, where sadly nothing much changed after our free democratic elections, and with zero job opportunities on hand, one can understand the influx of people seeking a future in our city.

They were greeted by the mountain, the two oceans and the statue of Madiba at the City Hall. So far, so good.

They met other homeboys and girls and found a place for a few nights in the townships.

Here they came face to face with hardcore skollies, working girls - something they had never seen before. Some got robbed, taken for a ride and ended up with nothing. Where to from here?

There are many people who came to Cape Town for a better life.

To find a job whereby they could send money back home to feed the family. If only it was that easy. Jobs are scarce, accommodation over-the-top expensive and with no money to go back home, they end up on the streets.

Some try an odd job here and there, but it is barely enough to cover your rent. Normally rent will be a room shared with others in a dingy, dangerous building. Whatever they thought Cape Town would be like is beyond the reality.

The fact is that Cape Town is cold and cruel, and few arrive here and prosper. You interact with people you never ever dreamed of interacting with.

You are in constant danger. The city seduces you with pictures of happy, smiling people, a good vibe and you have to learn that it was not meant for you.

She loves those who have. Those who can spend, invest and build so-called environment-friendly buildings. You came with nothing. And if you are really smart you will go back home.

Because nobody really wants you here, you’re going to become a liability. You going cost the City money. Sad but true. Refugees arrive in our city. Some manage to open a little spaza shop. And at every political rally, the possibility of the shop being looted is a nasty reality. There are engineers and doctors who now park cars in the inner city. I kid you not.

Funny thing is that when you interact with these people, you realise how you assumed the worst and end up being pleasantly surprised by their knowledge, hospitality and kindness. But most of us don’t.

We are afraid of what is different and what we know very little about. As fellow Africans, we know very little about other African countries and culture.

A Tuscan-designed villa, German kitchen appliances, Italian marble tiles, that’s us. We snub the African wood carving and go for the “made in China” plastic vase. And what I really do not like is when somebody is armed with the power of the pound, and argues at the market to get something cheaper.

* Danny Oosthuizen is the #TheDignityProject ambassador. In his weekly daily column for the Cape Argus, he tackles the struggles homeless people face. Connect with Danny on Facebook and on Twitter @masekind3213 or via email.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Cape Argus