Just how dodgy is Durban?

Durban... It's nice from the air, but is it dodgy at ground level?

It is a question that has pondered mankind for generations. People from all corners of the globe and from all walks of life have sat, chins in hand, and thought long and hard about this one thing: just how dodgy is Durban?

Even Winston Churchill once said: “I have nothing to give except blood sweat and that dodgy town on South Africa’s east coast.” And as philosphor Geroge Matthew Adams said: “We cannot waste time. We can only get wasted in Durban.”

So, the question then remains, just how dodgy is Durban?

On Twitter the other day (follow me @matthewsavides) I posted: “Toti is to the world what razor burn is to the pubic region.” I might have been joking… But I actually wasn’t. (Aside: if you know me well, you’ll know why I don’t particularly like Toti. But let’s move on quickly.) The responses I got to this were quite remarkable.

First, someone said “add Bluff to the list”. And I thought: yeah, actually, that’s fair enough. The weirdness and general dodgyness of the Bluff is well documented in social circles. Fine. Bluff and Toti are dodgy.

Then more responses came in:

People mentioned Umbilo (in fact, they called it, and I quote, “SCUMbilo”), uMlazi, eNanda (or Inanda, for you non-Zulu folk), Chatsworth, Wentworth, Sydenham and Mayville. That’s quite a lot of places, actually. Is Durban really that dodgy that in about 7 minutes on one social networking site – and not a hugely popular one in Durban at that – eight areas were mentioned as being dodgy? Apparently so…

Broken bottles in a car park on Durban's beachfront. Photo taken in October 2008.

But is it, really? Is Durban really as dodgy as people make out? Well…that depends on your definition of dodgy.

If you take it to mean that it’s downright despicable then, no, Durban is not dodgy. If you take it mean that all the people are complete scum and should not be touch or even thought about the possibility of being touched then, no, Durban is not dodgy.

However, if you mean that the city is dirty and needs to be cleaned up better then, yes, it actually is – and, yes, those suburbs mentioned are among those that need the most work. If you take dodgy to mean that greater investment is needed to rid the city of its high levels of poverty and lawlessness (particularly in those poor areas) then, yes, Durban is dodgy.

Clearly, the city needs some work. There are things that need to be fixed – and fast, too.

But I don’t think Durban is dodgy at all. I actually like the city. I think the beachfront is macnificent and the Moses Mabhida Stadium is quite outstanding. I think its leadership has the ability to pull off major events with flair and efficiency.

But maybe that is exactly the problem. Maybe we are so good at the big things that we let the little things – which are the most important – slide.

If that is what define dodgy then, yes, actually, Durban is.

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One thought on “Just how dodgy is Durban?

  1. Durban is a shit hole run by a bunch of illiterate Marxist chimps!
    What do you expect? Miami
    London?
    Sydney?

    Its a shit hole. A sad distant shadow of what it once was in the days when south africa had no corruption and the ANC was just something stupid that exploded bombs in wimpy bars.

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