SLICE: Johannesburg will break, build you

The road to responsibility is one that we are all bound to take, and it comes with its negatives and positives. For me to come back to Johannesburg, was a decision that was based on events that acted as a double-edged sword in my life. 

Reflecting only on the bad experiences and telling myself that I would not come back to Johannesburg, I did not consider any life lessons to be drawn from the experiences. However, being back in the city and being able to do almost everything I wanted to do in 2017, I can see that the past experience has equipped me to adapt way better the second time around.

Growing up in Evaton West, a township in the Vaal Triangle where opportunities for the youth are few and a place the government couldn’t care less about, led me to consider moving to Johannesburg, where I thought I could kickstart my career as a photographer.

The younger me back then did not understand how to manoeuvre in the streets of Joburg, who to interact with and who to trust. I was enrolled at an institution named iCollege.

Having to travel to the Johannesburg CBD from the Vaal, some days I would squat at my classmate’s dorm as I did not have transport money. Travelling by Metrorail was another traumatic experienceas I would be forced to ride outside when the train was full, praying the whole time that I would make it home alive.

This ended up being a waste of my money and time because after completing the qualification it turned out that the college was not accredited for the course.  

This harsh experience, plus getting mugged on my way to Park Station and getting scammed of money and a phone in a banking queue, taught me a lot about Johannesburg. It’s what I see as a double-edged sword in my life, as these experiences broke me and, at the same time, built me. 

What made these experiences more traumatic was not having family to support me. I told myself that I would be better off completing my degree in the Vaal or another city or province, far away from Johannesburg. 

The city initiated me in a year to know how the world can be a cold place and that you are responsible for your own happiness in life. What I wished the younger me to have seen is that in whatever situation life places you, there is always a lesson, even in the mayhem. However, as the tinnybuddah website says: “Be kind to past versions of yourself that didn’t know the things you know now.”

My achievements from 2018 to 2020, which include acquiring a BA in communication from North-West University Vaal Triangle Campus, were a result of the hardships I experienced the first time I came to study in Joburg. Today I see the city of gold through a different lens, as a hub for creatives in the artistic fields that I desire to be part of, as well as an opportunity to study at one of the biggest universities in Africa.

The diversity in culture, lifestyle and way of doing things as I perceive it now is more unifying of various cultures to bring a different taste of life to the city and introduce a new culture. I gained this new perspective while travelling in and around the city taking pictures, and I found that I could be part of that new culture.

The Alfonso that is here today came back because of what the younger me experienced and what the younger me gained, which has made me the person I am proud to be today. I am no longer afraid of the city and now understand that life may not go as planned, but through all that, I should keep my chin up. Now I can honestly say, I have been through the most and I am ready for what life keeps bringing to the table, instead of running back home as I did before. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Alfonso Nqunjana

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Witsies dirty their hands for a cleaner Johannesburg

Wits DASO along with Witsies and community members came together to partake in the first clean-up in Braamfontein

Witsies, members of Wits Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO), the City of Johannesburg and community members got down and dirty to clean up the streets of Braamfontein for the #AReSebesteng clean-up campaign on Saturday, September 30. 

 Volunteers and members of Johannesburg Metro Police cleaned outside Noswall Hall and around Bertha Street, picking up even the smallest items, like cigarette butts, and pulling out weeds.

First-year BA general student, Neo Makobo, who passed by during the clean-up said, “Braam is dirty and we want cleanliness, I think this concept should be encouraged broadly.” She was not aware that the clean-up was taking place around Braamfontein on Saturday, but seeing the volunteers encouraged her to join next time.

Chahracan Amod, Councillor of Ward 60 in Johannesburg, said that the volunteer campaign “strives to encourage residents to take care of the environment by promoting a culture of reducing, re-using and recycling of waste to ensure that Johannesburg becomes one of the cleanest cities in Africa”.

He added that by taking part in this initiative, Johannesburg residents can connect with one another while creating a space that they can be proud of. “Cleanliness is not next to godliness, cleanliness is godliness, and we need to encourage especially young people to take back the city collectively,” he said.

The monthly campaign was launched by Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba last month. A Re Sebetseng, which means “let’s work”, is based on the African Clean Cities initiative established in Maputo, Mozambique, in April 2017.

Economic growth and increasing populations mean African cities are facing growing waste issues, one of the initiative’s partner organisations, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, said in a press statement. The African Clean Cities initiative aims to provide support in solving waste issues so that cities are able to achieve healthy living conditions and grow in an environmentally sustainable way, it added.

South Africa is not part of the 24 African signatories to the initiative.

Mashaba noted that he was also inspired by how clean Rwanda is and he said that country’s initiatives had influenced the A Re Sebetseng campaign. “I am a strong supporter of a model that promotes the city’s residents as the agents of change,” he wrote in the Daily Maverick.

Floyd Nyalungu, campaign manager for Daso Wits, encouraged more students to join the campaign to ensure a cleaner Johanneburg. “It’s an open invitation and everybody, not only Daso members should join,” he said.

The next clean-up will take place on Saturday, October 28, and the last Saturday of every month after that.

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