Voices of the City : Allison Swank | FUTURE CAPE TOWN

“(…) I wish that there were better infrastructures for South Africa’s robust, and incredibly talented independent creative scenes.”


Allison Swank Voices of the City

This week Future Cape Town speaks with Allison Swank who worked for OkayAfrica and produced the film : The People versus the Rainbow Nation.

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Voices of the City is a 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 the city differ, but also what we share. It is a daunting task to try to 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.

Allison Swank worked for OkayAfrica and also produced the film : The People versus the Rainbow Nation. She lived in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.


  1. What about Cape Town and Joburg inspires you the most?

The young creative classes of both cities. I moved here a year ago to work with local directors documenting the youth scenes, particularly music. I had been coming back and forth for years while I worked with OkayAfrica. I would come to the STR.CRD festivals and always had the time of my life. South Africans wonder why I moved here from the big city, and I always respond by saying that New York is over-saturated bullshit, Joburg is where the good stuff is.


  1. Do you have a secret space or place that you enjoy?

Without a doubt my favorite “secret” place in Cape town is Panama Jacks, the seafood restaurant situated out in the industrial part of the harbor. It was established in 1989 and absolutely nothing about the place (including the carpet) has changed since then. Make sure to check out the lobster tank. The place is legit. In Joburg my favorite secret space is what I like to call the “smoke dome” on the roof top of 77 Commissioner St. otherwise known as the Kool Out Lounge, where the good people at The Kool Out throw regular parties.


  1. What was the last exciting event you attended in either city?

There’s always good things going on in both cities, but my latest and favorite was the BadBadNotGood show at the Good Luck Bar in Newtown. It brought out the city’s best energy, the band were shocked and really excited about how many fans they have in South Africa. I take a lot of pleasure in introducing South Africa to other internationals in the creative industries, all of them leave LOVING SA and committing to return.



  1. What frustrates you about the city?

In a place like Joburg, I think safe and reliable mass public transportation is an obvious frustration (I hate driving), but deeper than that I wish that there were better infrastructures for South Africa’s robust, and incredibly talented independent creative scenes. I salute those people working on building artist management, venues, radio stations, etc. that suit this arena of indie art. It’s an uphill battle, but there’s good people doing good things.


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

James Baldwin (but he probably wouldn’t want to have dinner with me). If he was anything like his writing, then that’d be the most insightful, inspiring, poignant meal. He was crazy ahead of his time.


More about the film she produced:

The People Versus the Rainbow Nation is a film commissioned by MTV.
They saw a need to cover the student protest movements in a way that wasn’t being done at the time. Myself and the director, Lebogang Rasethaba followed 5 students across 4 universities. We completed the film from start to finish in about 6 months.

The hope for the film is to provide a framework of understanding for racism, classism, sexism, etc. for young people. It’s hard to know why certain experiences make us feel pain or discomfort, so we wanted to paint a picture of the contemporary climate in South Africa, what things like racism, classism, and sexism look like and feel like so that young people know they’re not alone in their experiences. The greatest victory now is that the film is being used as an educational tool in at least two departments at WITS.”

You can watch the movie in full length here:

Image credit :

  • Allison Swank

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