The start of a new year brings with it so many promises. A clean slate. The bad of last year gone, a repose over Christmas and now it is time to engage. I have a sneaky suspicion 2019 is going to be a year of action. So many stop-starts last year, so many platforms created, so many good relationships developed. Its time, Durban. It is time to bring about change and time to shine.
This year has started with exciting prospects. City Story is planning for great interventions that will literally transform the way we look at our City. The Homelessness Task Force is mobilising such incredible minds behind public private partnerships. The plans are to engage all sectors generating solutions into the homelessness crisis we face in Durban. I have a God-given hope and love for this city. I have a hope that this city will be truly known as the most caring and liveable city in Africa but not just because some statistics group declares it as such, but because the people who live here know it, feel it, experience it. That is when we know we have won.
I have been aware for some time that our problem in our city is not pollution, or the government, or the homeless or the sex workers or anything else we want to blame. The problem we have in Durban (and maybe South Africa) is fear. It has gripped us in some cases with a subtle touch and in other incidents with a powerful grasp. I chatted, the other day, to a friend of mine from Congo and he really drove this point home for me. He spoke of an incident that happened outside his window late at night when he heard a young woman screaming; “Help”. He looked out his window and could not see anything except to see every window in the neighbouring block of flats had people peeking out the window, but not moving. He then went out of his home into the street to see a man attacking a woman and trying to rape her. He shouted at the person and the guy ran off. Two others came out at the same time he did, both Congolese (one male and one female). He said to me that though Congo is dangerous in many ways, the general population stick together and fight for what is right. If one household is robbed the neighbours come together to stop the thief. In Durban, we are too scared that we may be the next victim or be identified as a witness and targeted. But, what happens when the majority stand up and say, “no”? In that moment “NO”. No mass community brutality on the perpetrator, just a “NO”. Suddenly, there would be too many witnesses. Suddenly, too many people would be present to claim a next victim. Too many good people are peering through windows in Durban hoping, praying someone will say no, but unless someone starts, unless someone stands up we are just going to have a bunch of nameless witnesses who are too traumatised to speak and many more incidents to view.
Can a City change in our lifetime? Yes, I believe it can change in a day. When we as Durban stand together and say “no”. When we see things that hurt people we just need to stand and say no, together as a collective of good people, things will change for the better. There are more good people here than bad but we have given power to the bad people for too long. Come on good people of Durban let us take this City this year. Let us stand for what is good, noble, and true. Let us just say no, together, to things that we know are wrong. No to rape, no to theft, no to hijackings, no to litter, no to corruption, no to whatever we do not need in our City, just no!
Its time to rise Durban, it’s time to shake off fear and step up to be the city that people flock to for peace. I want more for our City. I believe 2019 is our year.