City’s filth re­flects our state of de­pres­sion

CityPress - - Business - Kuzwayo is the founder of Ig­ni­tive, an ad­ver­tis­ing agency Muzi Kuzwayo busi­ness@city­press.co.za

Iam driving along the rich­est mile in Africa: Illovo, Sand­ton. It is rush hour. There are more Porsche Cayennes than 15-seater taxis here. I know be­cause I count them. It’s be­come a twisted but favourite pas­time of mine.

Beau­ti­ful women in high heels are walk­ing briskly to work. The place is buzzing. Then, sud­denly, they scat­ter, run­ning away from big rats that seem to have lost all fear of hu­mans.

Re­cently, I went back to my old neigh­bour­hood. As I get out of my car, I see this rat look­ing at me as if it’s come to say: “Hello, home­boy. Long time...”

Maybe it has heard of me, be­cause in pri­mary school I was a sea­soned hunter of the striped mouse called im­biba.

Ap­par­ently, its meat pre­vents boys from wet­ting their beds. Apart from that, it tastes good. Win­ter is the best time to hunt; the grass is low. You pour wa­ter into the hole, and they come run­ning out. Then you club them.

Make a fire and it’s a good braai day. Then you fas­ten the skins around your small fore­arms and, voilà, you’re a war­rior ready to take on the world.

One morn­ing in Gra­ham­stown, I feel this thing mov­ing in my bed, in­side the blan­kets. I wake up. It’s a mouse. As soon as it re­alises I am awake, it jumps off the bed and runs out the win­dow.

“Hey, you bas­ket!” the good me swears. It’s gone.

Rats, on the other hand, have a hero men­tal­ity. It is as if they com­pete over who is most dar­ing among them.

“Joburg rats,” a friend of mine once told me, “know how to work a mouse­trap. They know that cheese is a lux­ury. So if it’s free, it’s bait. They’ll eat bits off and come back for sec­onds.”

Back to this rat that’s look­ing at me. I close the car door, and it is still look­ing at me.

“This is not Illovo, you bloody rat! Show some re­spect,” I ex­claim, as I kick it in the head. It’s dead. I take it and throw it in the bin.

No, I am not call­ing for a whole­sale lynch­ing of rats and mice, but they can’t be al­lowed to ha­rass ratepay­ers the way they do. Wait. Be­fore you is­sue a ten­der to do a study on what causes rats to run amok, I can give you some free ad­vice. It’s dirt. Joburg is the cap­i­tal of filth, and it is bad for the peo­ple and bad for busi­ness.

Jo­han­nes­burg prides it­self on be­ing a “world-class African city”, but that means noth­ing when the crash bar­ri­ers on the high­ways are bro­ken. What is world-class about poorly main­tained parks? And noth­ing is more anti-African than a dirty en­vi­ron­ment. Re­mem­ber the song Shanye­lan’ am­a­bala zin­gane ... Sweep the yard, O chil­dren...?

The filth in our city tells a big­ger story than we care to think about. We are like some­one who has sunk into a deep de­pres­sion; some­one who has no dream to chase any more, and the last time he had any ex­cite­ment was when Nel­son Man­dela be­came pres­i­dent. In short, noth­ing mat­ters any more.

Jo­han­nes­burg needs a big clean-up, but first we must start in the mind. We need civil ser­vants who are proud of their coun­try and whose mis­sion in life is to serve the peo­ple, as their pro­fes­sion sug­gests.

The city must cre­ate a sense of own­er­ship. It must plant beau­ti­ful flow­ers along the ma­jor roads, and the res­i­dents must stop lit­ter­ing and treat their city as their trea­sure.

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