Many hands pitched in for the Jukskei River and London Road Blitz Clean-up in Alexandra, the northern Joburg township; among them were Brand South Africa and the Greater Alexandra Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Along with several other stakeholders, both public and private, they spent Friday, 17 July cleaning up the area, under the banner #GreeningAlex. It was part of Brand South Africa’s drive to celebrate this year’s Nelson Mandela International Day, held annually on Mandela’s birthday on 18 July. It was a good choice of venue: when he left Transkei as a young man in the 1940s, Mandela first settled in Alex.
“We are taking our programme, Play Your Part, which is one of our flagship programmes in the organisation, where we are calling upon all South Africans to play their part in making South Africa a better country and a [globally] competitive country,” said Sindiswa Mququ, Brand South Africa’s general manager of the Africa and Middle East faction.
It was the little things we did that would help to build a better nation, she said. “We are here to participate in Nelson Mandela International Day to play our part in cleaning the area and being an active part of the greater community of Johannesburg.”
Every one of the 50 million South Africans should join hands in making every day a Mandela Day, she said, by actively working to make the country a better place for all and each doing their bit to improve the nation.
#GreeningAlex is part of a larger drive to rehabilitate and develop Alexandra, called Green Economy Sustainable Job Creation. Its goal is to create jobs by cleaning the area. The thinking is that a clean environment will make it more appealing to potential investors and businesses.
“The chamber has a lot of projects along London Road, such as the commercial square, the Alex 100 Mall, and the SMME Hub,” explained Jide Oni, the business and projects co-ordinator at the GALXCOC.
“If one looks at London Road, it’s a strategic road. It connects the N3, it connects the M1 and it connects to Sandton, which is the business hub of Africa. So how can we make this road more appealing for investment, because one thing that comes with investment is job creation?”
If more businesses popped up along the thoroughfare, it would, in turn, generate more work for people living in and around the township and offer more people the means to support themselves and their families.
“As a township chamber, our role is to make sure that businesses of the chamber are showcased and the first step to doing that is to showcase Alexandra as a township and to showcase organisations like the Shomang Co-operative, which is a women-led co-operative that cleans the Jukskei River every day.”
MANY HANDS MAKE LIGHT WORK
Among those participating in the clean-up were soldiers from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), as well as representatives of Eskom, City Parks, Alex FM, Industrial Development Corporation, Ornico and AdReach Foundation. All were looking to add to the efforts in the spirit of Madiba.
Under the protective eyes of the Johannesburg Metro Police, marshalled by the men and women of the SANDF, participants took to Alex’s busy streets in a collective effort to rid the area of the unsightly refuse and debris that had gathered over time.
Refuse bags quickly swelled as the day wore on. Though tiring, the physical labour did not dampen the spirit that was coursing through the group on the eve of Mandela Day.
“It [the Jukskei River and London Road Blitz Clean-up] ties in absolutely superbly with Mandela’s ideals because Mandela’s ideals were about building our nation from the bottom up, and that’s what he always stood for,” said Steve Jourdan, the director of the AdReach Foundation.
“He believed that everybody had to take ownership of themselves in order to take ownership of their country, and by developing ourselves and developing the youth in our country, that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
There are many amazing initiatives all over the country, he added, “and you often find that they’re working in isolation, but by bringing everybody together as a unified force we can achieve a lot more a lot quicker, and that’s absolutely essential”.
This Blitz Clean-up was one of the many ways in which Brand South Africa and its various partners spread the spirit of Madiba, urging all South Africans to make every day a Mandela Day.