We Durbanites are very predictable. Faced with someone raving about how beeyootiful Cape Town is, many of us will trot out the tired old line: “Yes, but the sea is just for show – the water’s so bloody cold you can’t swim in it. Now in Durban we can swim in the sea all year round..!”
Of course, most of the people who say that probably haven’t had their toes in the Indian Ocean for years, but it makes them feel better.
With the SAPS (SA Police Services) men and women having recently chosen Greyville racecourse as their training ground, as part of new top cop Bheki Cele’s mission to get them in shape, I now take my two dogs down to the beach for a run in the mornings instead, after I’ve dropped the kids at school. I park at Pirates Surf Lifesaving Club, alongside Suncoast Casino, then hit the sand and head north towards Blue Lagoon. The beach is near deserted at that time, bar the odd jogger, and some serious sand moving equipment as part of the massive pre-2010 World Cup beachfront revamp which is underway.
I must confess to ignoring the “no dogs” signs because I figure they’re disturbing no-one at that time, and I pick up after them. Watching the two of them tearing along the water’s edge and dodging the waves is amazing therapy, as are the gorgeous vistas. Where else in the world would I have this almost all to myself every morning?
Just one thing mars the sublime experience – litter. Polystyrene containers, chip packets, paint buckets, cooldrink bottles, most of it left within throwing distance of the many bins. This morning there were even two dead sacrificial chickens left on the sand.
One of the things I love about Durban is its rich cultural mix, but I can’t say I delighted in the sight of those dead birds. If I’d had my camera with me, I could have captured the corpses and the glorious Moses Mabhida soccer stadium in the same shot. Maybe next time. The Durban Solid Waste team does an incredible job of cleaning up the beach, but they can’t be everywhere, 24 hours a day.
I find it terribly depressing that in almost 2010, we’re mostly a nation of litterers. Selfish, immature individuals simply drop their trash wherever it pleases them, some offering the absurd justification that this provides work for people. Well, here’s a thought – we’d have a more thriving tourism industry in this city if we didn’t have our Dirty Durbs reputation, and that would create heaps more jobs.
How are we ever going to embrace green initiatives such as conserving energy and recycling when so many among us have so little regard for the environment that littering is considered okay?