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#WeAreGentrification: why this Cape Town property ad is seeing flames

An advertisement by real estate company Pam Golding is drawing attention – for all the wrong reasons.

While the “I Am Pam” campaign – introducing the main realtors in each suburb to potential buyers in the area – is meant to be one that enhances personal touch and a sense of community, the advert is coming under fire for promoting gentrification and whitewashing the essence of the Woodstock, Observatory, Salt River and Zonnebloem areas.

pam-golding-screenshot

The phrase “we are a piece of this city’s history” is kind of ironic, with the ad listing visits to hipster joints and street art as history – ignoring the apartheid legacies of these spaces.

This comes in the wake of the debates around gentrification and the evictions in the Woodstock area – particularly in light of the Bromwell Street evictions, which left 43 people homeless, 19 of whom are children.

“Our communities are being destroyed”, Charnell Commando, a Bromwell Street resident of 29 years who was facing eviction, told The Daily Vox, “I could have walked from here to the shop to buy potatoes or onions or whatever they sell, but now they (developers) are buying these shops, they modifying the shops. You can’t just go and buy a packet of potatoes for R5, because they’re going to have a boutique there that’s selling dresses for R1,000.”

Not in my Neighbourhood: Cape filmmaker tackles gentrification and spacial violence

A few tweeps subverted the “We Are” refrain in the advert, to highlight the absurdity of the way that the ad ignores glaring issues, and showcases peak whiteness.

Back in 2014, The Daily Vox visited and spoke to residents in Woodstock’s Page Lane. Woodstock, on the outskirts of the Cape Town CBD, has become one of the trendiest parts of the city. The area is a cultural hotspot where dilapidated buildings sit alongside stylish restaurants and art galleries. The Woodstock Exchange has been lauded for its contemporary design motif, while the Old Biscuit Mill has remained one of Cape Town’s best Saturday brunch locations. But all these improvements are said to have come at the cost of the community.

This year, Cape Town filmmaker, Kurt Orderson, who has been documenting protests against eviction and gentrification near the Old Biscuit Mill told The Daily Vox, “The Biscuit Mill is the epicenter of escapism, of this nostalgia of privilege and the kind of glorification of privilege and material wealth. This is what Cape Town represented during the glory days of apartheid”.

The estate agent pictured in the advert, Luke Sweetnam, said he thought the advert was misinterpreted. Sweetnam, who sells property in Observatory, Woodstock and Salt River, said: “With this marketing campaign we have chosen to highlight some of the iconic landmarks and attractions in the area.” The campaign has been running for six months.

Featured image via Facebook.
6 Comments
  1. Charles says

    Very important article. I hear a lot of people talking about how Woodstock is up and coming and that one should buy property while it’s still cheap. However, the exploitative nature of this needs to be addressed and emphasized. Also, the convenient historical amnesia about Woodstock and the misappropriation of the culture as is evident in this add, clearly shows that profit hungry businesses don’t care about the community who have been living in Woodstock and embody the culture. This is not a new story, and it is sad to see the logical conclusion of an exploitative economic system.

  2. Pro-Life says

    gentrification. Is this another district six in the making?. Sorry to open these wounds. Don’t get me wrong, I am for urban development but not at the cost of others. We should have a look at doing this by pulling others up with us.

    1. Silo says

      Gentrification is very rarely at the cost of others in fact it almost always positively effects the residents in the area as they can profit from the increase in house prices and if they do not wish to sell then they have the pleasure of living in a more affluent and safer neighborhood.

      It is also very hard to stop as no one agent of person is responsible for gentrification and therefore government can’t try and block attempt to sell or buy properties, they also don’t want to as it goes against their best interest (tax fee on the sale of property).

      I think every one is going to have to accept the fact that area in Cape Town are going to be gentrified over time and that it is essentially unstoppable.

  3. Dom says

    Whilst I am sceptical of most marketing campaigns and estate agencies (they are right up there with lawyers and politicians when it comes to trust or lack of it), this right-on virtue signalling by the anonymous article writer is the usual whinging we can expect from social justice warriors who do not put practical solutions on the table. The residential and business market in Woodstock is bringing in much needed investment, upgrades, sustainability and social integration. What is the alternative? Dilapidation and abandonment. Yes, people will lose out, but let’s help them and take the politics out of this. Don’t blame the developers for bringing much needed modernisation.

  4. x. z says

    The estate agent decided not to apologise but to insist we all misread everything..

  5. Tanya says

    It’s a marketing campaign espousing all that Woodstock has to offer, for heaven’s sake. Stop being so prissy and snide people! Must you see everything through some microscope to look for the slightest potential of offence. Come off it. Get a life and look for real injustices out there.

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