Voices of the City: Charne Simpson

Voices of the City is a new, weekly feature that spotlights the everyday lives of our citizens, living and working in the city. By asking the same five questions to all our interviewees, we discover not only how our experiences of differ, but also what we share. It is a daunting task to try and capture the diverse experiences of our city’s inhabitants, but we feel that it is a worthy, and necessary, endeavor, in order to better understand the present and future of our city. This week, we heard from Charne Simpson, a Cape Town native who works as a Junior Content Producer at e.tv, as well as a screenwriter of short films and series pilots. She shares her favorite spots to find peace in the city, as well as her frustrations with the lack of integration in the city center.   

Charne Simpson


QuestionWhat about Cape Town inspires you the most?

Answer: I think travelling with public transport inspires me the most. I would hate not to have access to the conversations that people have on the taxi ranks and bus terminus. I keep my finger on the pulse of society by travelling with public transport.


Q: Do you have a secret space or place that you enjoy in the city?

A: Tourists and foreigners probably know more secret places in the city than I do, even though I’m native to Cape Town. I enjoy Signal Hill and a park in Tamboerskloof. I also sometimes sit in the Company’s Garden and read while the rats troll under my feet and the homeless sleep across from me. Walking from work to the bus terminus via the Company’s Garden is also the joy of my every day.

Q: What was the last exciting event you attended in the city?

A: I went to watch a show at the Artscape this past Saturday called Afrikaaps. It’s about Cape coloured identity and language.


A: What frustrates you about the city?

Q: That my family living on the Cape Flats don’t feel like they belong in the city center. This is our city and we should feel comfortable everywhere. A German girl living in the city once said, “But nobody living in Cape Town is actually from Cape Town.” That she hasn’t met any locals is incredibly frustrating to me. This is not by accident. Cape Town was strategically planned to keep people apart. Sadly, this hasn’t changed much since the end of Apartheid. Too often I walk into bars in the city and see only white people. Or go to book launches and see only white people. We’re in Africa. Something about that just doesn’t sit well with me.


A: You can have dinner with one person living or dead. Who is it and why?

Q: Maybe it’s because she recently passed away, but probably Maya Angelou. She was a powerful woman. She was feminine and had feminine power. She was gracious and spoke truths. Open minded and kind. I sometimes get so angry about certain injustices and would like to learn how to handle those times with more grace. I feel if anyone could have helped me with that, it’s probably Maya Angelou. I would have liked to sit under a big tree in the Company’s Garden with her, drinking rooibos tea and having lovely little chats.


Check out our website next week for the next Voices of the City interview.


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There are 2 comments

  1. locowings

    I love reading these! I wonder about Charne’s response to what frustrates her about the city…I have the exact opposite experience at bars in CT, and usually feel surrounded by all walks of life. Maybe her experience is based more on where she’s going. If it doesn’t sit well with you, leave that bar!

  2. Smileyface

    @locowings:disqus Charne’s spot on with her sentiments about Cape Town bars and eateries. Often I can’t believe i’m in South AFRICA, when I go to restaurants in the City Bowl, Southern Suburbs, Atlantic Seaboard and we’re the only non-whites (apart from the cleaning staff, of course). And then people stare at us for good measure! WTF. It’s a beautiful city which I wouldn’t trade for the world, but equally obscene when looking below the surface.

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