Talk is cheap

Sun­day’s star-stud­ded con­cert ended in trauma for the many mugged with no po­lice in sight

Financial Mail - - FOX FM - Su­nita Menon [email protected]­

The ea­gerly awaited Global Ci­ti­zen Fes­ti­val started on Sun­day in cel­e­bra­tion of Nel­son Man­dela’s cen­te­nary. In a packed FNB Sta­dium the per­for­mances were met with cheers as the 70,000 at­ten­dees sang along. Cries of “Amandla! Awethu!” re­ver­ber­ated through the sta­dium in re­sponse to the many calls to ac­tion for a bet­ter world.

The event lived up to ex­pec­ta­tions — tears streamed for Ed Sheeran, pride swelled for Cassper Ny­ovest and hys­te­ria set in for Bey­oncé.

The day started be­fore noon for most peo­ple, in a line that snaked around the block as the sta­dium slowly filled. Se­cu­rity was tight at the start, but as the VIPS left and Bey­oncé and Jay-z’s set ended, it fiz­zled.

Global Ci­ti­zen’s goal was sim­ple, Usher, Tyler Perry and Oprah told the au­di­ence: end poverty in our life­time and take ac­tion. “The change starts with you,” they urged.

But at the end of the night, SA’S stark re­al­ity of poor se­cu­rity and vi­o­lent crime against a back­drop of poverty, in­equal­ity and un­em­ploy­ment could not be masked by mes­sages of “end­less love”, long-winded calls to ac­tion or re­minders of Man­dela’s le­gacy.

As the lights were switched on, ex­hausted con­cert-go­ers filed out of the sta­dium. But with no plan­ning, no phone sig­nal and no way out, panic set in.

In des­per­a­tion, peo­ple headed to the Sa­sol garage — the only spot Uber, which had upped its prices, could get to if you man­aged to get sig­nal. The night ended with screams for help and stam­ped­ing as groups of thugs wield­ing knives and guns ter­rorised con­cert-go­ers.

Po­lice were scarce and se­cu­rity nowhere in sight. The strin­gent checks at the start of the day were gone.

The ear­lier rhetoric about gen­der equal­ity — fem­i­nist icons to the fore, celebri­ties and pres­i­dents rat­tling off fig­ures about in­equal­ity — seemed an il­lu­sion.

The fore­most tar­gets early Mon­day morn­ing were women. In the aftermath, Uber promised to pay cus­tomers back and the po­lice popped up to say they’d made sev­eral ar­rests.

But the trauma of try­ing to get home has lin­gered for many. Per­haps the loud­est mes­sage from Global Ci­ti­zen is that talk is cheap.

“Since our lead­ers are be­hav­ing like chil­dren, we will have to take the re­spon­si­bil­ity they should have taken long ago.” Greta Thun­berg, 15, from Swe­den at the UN climate change sum­mit in Poland. David At­ten­bor­ough told the sum­mit that with­out ac­tion “the col­lapse of our civil­i­sa­tions and the ex­tinc­tion of much of the nat­u­ral world is on the hori­zon”

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