Welcome to Our Hillbrow

by

Phaswane Mpe

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Refentše’s cousin is a police officer who lives in an apartment in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. Cousin houses Refentše when he gets into the University of Witwatersrand, and he takes Refentše to school on the first day. Cousin is good to Refentše, but he is prejudiced toward the “Makwerekwere” (a slur for people who immigrate to South Africa from other African countries). Refentše knows that Cousin treats immigrants very badly in his position of power as a police officer. Refentše also notes that this makes Cousin a bit of a hypocrite, since he always roots for other African teams in the World Cup (especially when they’re playing against European teams) but can’t seem to break his prejudices when it comes to daily life in Johannesburg.

Cousin Quotes in Welcome to Our Hillbrow

The Welcome to Our Hillbrow quotes below are all either spoken by Cousin or refer to Cousin. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
).
Chapter 1 Quotes

Like most Hillbrowans, Cousin took his soccer seriously. You and he had had many disagreements on the subject of support for foreign teams—especially those from elsewhere in Africa. You often accused him of being a hypocrite, because his vocal support for black non-South African teams, whenever they played against European clubs, contrasted so glaringly with his prejudice towards black foreigners the rest of the time. Cousin would always take the opportunity during these arguments to complain about the crime and grime in Hillbrow, for which he held such foreigners responsible; not just for the physical decay of the place but the moral decay.

Related Characters: Refentše , Cousin
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Welcome to Our Hillbrow LitChart as a printable PDF.
Welcome to Our Hillbrow PDF

Cousin Character Timeline in Welcome to Our Hillbrow

The timeline below shows where the character Cousin appears in Welcome to Our Hillbrow. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
...stayed with his cousin in Hillbrow after getting accepted to the University of the Witwatersrand. Cousin did not live in the center of town, but rather in the suburb’s outskirts, accessed... (full context)
Apartheid and Colonialism  Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...because of the stories about what Hillbrow is like. He guessed that this was because Cousin’s street was not in the center of town. He thought about the many central streets... (full context)
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Refentše thought that Cousin’s place was more “harmless” and “pleasurable” (“to the extent that anything in Hillbrow could be... (full context)
Apartheid and Colonialism  Theme Icon
The next morning, Refentše washed himself in Cousin’s apartment, which was a “treat” because he was only able to bath once a week... (full context)
Apartheid and Colonialism  Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
As they continued their route, Refentše and Cousin saw a group of beggars, and one of them called out a greeting in Zulu.... (full context)
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Refentše and Cousin continued walking, and they soon arrived in front of a large building called the Civic... (full context)
Apartheid and Colonialism  Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
...When his day was over, he leaves for Vickers place. On his way back to Cousin’s apartment, Refentše responded again to the beggar’s greeting (“Aibo!”). The beggar’s warm behavior made Refentše... (full context)
Apartheid and Colonialism  Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
...for campus housing were unsuccessful, despite having excellent grades. This is why he lived with Cousin at Vicker’s Place for all three years of his undergraduate studies. The money he needed... (full context)
Apartheid and Colonialism  Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Refentše would have been able to picture Cousin’s look of disappointment after South Africa lost. Cousin, just like most people who lived in... (full context)
Apartheid and Colonialism  Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
...(where there were thought to be no immigrants, only South Africans). Refentše used to tell Cousin to do the math—that Hillbrow only seemed more crime-ridden because it had a higher density... (full context)
Apartheid and Colonialism  Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Refentše also liked to remind Cousin that, if he thought about it, the Makwerekwere were just like the two of them—“sojourners.”... (full context)
Apartheid and Colonialism  Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Refentše never pushed too hard, though, because he knew that Cousin already had all of these facts. Cousin was a police officer and even worked for... (full context)
Apartheid and Colonialism  Theme Icon
Prejudice and Ignorance  Theme Icon
Refentše knew that Cousin—and other police officers—acted on their prejudices. They might drive an immigrant around in their car,... (full context)
Regret and Redemption Theme Icon
...and conversations that Refentše would be having if he were still alive. After arguing with Cousin at the bar, his mind would have drifted to Lerato, and Refentše would have thought... (full context)