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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 June, 2003, 06:27 GMT 07:27 UK
White man in black township
By Mohamed Allie
BBC, Cape Town

It is very rare for a white person in South Africa to move into a black township.

But in an effort to conquer his fears and mistrust of black people, a young white South African sound engineer was advised at a personal growth course to go and live in one.

Bruce and Maureen
Neighbour Maureen is protective of Bruce
So, after making a promise in front of 350 people, Bruce Muzik moved from his rented accommodation in an upmarket suburb of Cape Town to the Guguletu township.

One of Bruce's new friends, Patrick Molokets said at first he thought Bruce was crazy.

"That's my personal opinion - because people are being mugged here and people are being shot."

But having had the chance to spend some time with Bruce, who is assisting him with a few job applications, Patrick says he has developed lots of respect for his new friend whose action could play an important role in removing stereotypes.

"He's busy emancipating other people's minds and there's nothing wrong with the townships."

Welcome

While Patrick has got to know Bruce better, many of the residents were more sceptical about a white person moving into their area.

Kids with Bruce
Local children come round to watch TV
Bruce's neighbour, Maureen Sengiwe, says many people were talking about him: "They say: 'Maureen, tell us what is this guy really doing here?'"

But when I visited Bruce at his two-bedroomed home, it is evident that he has been accepted by the community - everyone who passes by either extends a friendly greeting or stops for a chat.

Bruce said that his first memory when he arrived some two months ago with his belongings was of being surrounded by 20-25 people "who came out of their houses to see what this white guy was doing in their community".

But in the two months he has been in Guguletu, Bruce has blended in well with the community.

Culture

He already has a Xhosa name, Xolani, he has attended a few cultural gatherings and is learning to speak the local Xhosa language.

Having overcome his fear of black people, the biggest eye-opener for Bruce was the community spirit in Guguletu in comparison with the mainly white area he lived in before.

"It's so the opposite here," he says. "You share your food with them."

Bruce and Lucky
Bruce: "All I've done is move house"
And living right next to a township bar, a shebeen, means Bruce is always surrounded by lots of people who have established a strong bond with him.

Neighbours like Maureen, who is also a shebeen owner, are assisting Muzik with his assimilation into township life and remain protective of him.

"One guy took him without my permission to a tavern, a big shebeen. I was so worried because it was getting late... so I took a car to go and get him."

Despite his efforts to experience how fellow South Africans less privileged than himself are living, there are still some sceptics who view Bruce's move as a publicity stunt. But he denies this.

"The facts are that all I've done is move house," he says.

Despite what he says, Bruce Muzik's decision to live in the township is no ordinary house move as he has given up the luxury of living in a beautiful setting beneath Table Mountain and also the comfort of many modern conveniences.




SEE ALSO:
SA blacks 'getting poorer'
13 May 03  |  Africa



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