Durban Delights

Adventures in the Creative Underbelly

by Georgie Chennells

A plump dark woman sits in her underwear in the shadow of the pier, legs forward like two broken deckchair supports in a precarious balance. Around her the soft remnants of waves tease the small clump of clothes as she knuckles it with a soap bar. Eastwards the last clouds of morning dissolve into the heat. A sandy blonde surfer exits the shore-break nearby, brighteyed and muscle-weary from a pre-dawn start. Laundry lady carries on contentedly, dwarfed by and melding into the rhythmic verticals of the barnacled columns behind her.

It’s 7am, and the day is well underway. Durban is a morning city: evolved to worship the sunrise. The city’s eastwardfacing beachfront is hemmed by a lively promenade, behind which holiday apartments and beach hotels line up, their windows and balconies like binocularedbirdwatchers in an orderly line of excitement.

The adjoining CBD, bordered on the south by the busiest harbour on the East coast of Africa is overlooked by a roughly seven kilometre stretch of hill, the Berea Ridge, once a grazing land for cows marked by elephant trails and now a cosy hub of clayroofed neighbourhoods.

Having lived here for five years I’ve always considered myself a tourist in this space. Not because I don’t identify it as my home, but simply because, as with every city worth its salt, there is so much to keep discovering...

Georgie Chennells is an urban thinker, writer and do-er living in Durban.