Cape Town has several affectionate nicknames, some dating as far back as the 1800’s when when it was nothing more than a Spice Route. Have you ever wondered why we call it the Mother City?

This is an affectionate term used by both locals and international visitors to describe the sense of home they feel in our city. Our research has led us to some interesting conclusions.

Here are a few explanations:

1. The first city of SA
Cape Town is the original city of South Africa and was established in 1652 as a refueling station for ships bounds for the East (the Spice Route). The city is often referred to as the Mother of South Africa because it gave birth to civilisation.

2. Greek speak
A Cape Town newspaper operating in the 1930s claimed that this was the only city in South Africa that could claim to be a metropolis. The public enthusiastically took to this description. The word ‘metropolis’ is derived from the Greek word ‘metros’, which means mother. The Greek word ‘polis’  also means means city and the combination created the term Mother City.

3. It takes 9 months to do anything
Another explanation is that things take nine months to happen in the city. Cape Town is renowned for its laid-back work ethic.

4. Jou ma se…
If you’ve heard a Capetonian get angry, you will understand it a little more. Many think it’s because of the local dialect which makes very liberal use of the term, “Jou ma…” – you can fill in the blanks.

There are also several names Cape Town is affectionately known as…

1. The Cape of Storms
This is because of the unpredictability of the Atlantic ocean’s weather.

2. Tavern of the Seas
As the first port of call to offer refreshment after the long journey, Cape Town offered women, wine and song for the lucky sailors who survived the journey.

3. Table Bay
 This is inspired by the table-like mountain.

5. Place of Sweet Water
 This is a term used by the early San People in reference to the rivulets of water that flow from Table Mountain

6. Hui! Gaeb
The Khoisan people referred to the Cape as the place where the clouds gather, which describes Table Mountain’s famous ‘table cloth’.



Picture: Pixabay

Article written by

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.