As you fly into Cape Town, circling the Atlantic seaboard—a ribbon of pristine white beaches above which lies the most expensive stretch of real estate in Africa—you pass over one of the continent’s most spectacular mountain ranges, which frames both the city and the beautiful cape winelands. Then the plane dips for landing and you become increasingly aware of mile after mile of ramshackle shanty homes, sprawling as far as the eye can see.
So, in a single snapshot from your aircraft window, you are getting an Instagram picture of 21st-century South Africa, a land of feast and famine, of spectacular wealth and beauty, and of grinding poverty, crime, and corruption. What you’re seeing from the aircraft is the visible disparity. Under the surface, it is far, far worse.