Barbed Wire and Avo Toast

In Woodstock, Cape Town, local, eco-friendly, and progressive businesses are displacing a multi-racial community that has survived apartheid. What is a conscientious tourist to do?


Drive twenty-five kilometers west from Woodstock, and you’ll find yourself in a different universe.

Blikkiesdorp. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

The Woodstock Exchange

We meet our guide for the street-art tour, Eli² in front of the Woodstock Exchange, a luxury shopping mall/art center/coworking space/food court. Eli is a local resident of Cape Malay³ descent and a 23-year-old student of electrical engineering.

Old Biscuit Mill

The story continues with free-range eggs.

Source: Flickr.

A Tale of Two Towns

In the 1970s, Cape Town was cut to pieces: white, black, Indian, and colored.⁴ Over 60,000 non-white inhabitants of District 6, an area designated “white only,” were forcibly relocated to so-called “townships:” tin-shack slums far from the city center.

Theater in Retail

I don’t want to be here, in the “Neighbourgoods market,” where hawkers play at neighbors and goods masquerade as goodness.

Indigo’s old motto. (Source.)

Theater in Street Art

As I finally dig into my eggs, I take solace in the fact that at least I’m better informed than your average hipster. At least I supported the local community by paying for a street-art tour. At least I know the real Woodstock.

The Other Woodstock Exchange

What would you think of a place described like this?

Theater in Blogging

A spotlight narrowly focused on the poorest members of local communities, a dramatic contrast between old and new, some carefully selected ironies of fate, a smattering of personal touches — take these ingredients, like I’ve done in the early sections, and you too can scapegoat any prospering business in an up-and-coming neighborhood.


In the mural, the zebra-man is sitting on a colony of what turn out to be cockroaches. Eli explains that this is a tag added by a different artist; cockroaches are the street’s symbol for the hated gentrifiers.

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