Blog: Cleaning up the streets of Maritzburg

2009-04-20 00:00

My phone rang. It was the Hultz. He said he was fed up with the state of the streets of Maritzburg.

I knew exactly what he was talking about. This website is full of comments from people around the world who have visited Maritzburg who can’t believe how filthy the city has become… there are gutters and pavements piled with litter, and some verges that haven’t been maintained since the early 19th century.

I could hear a measure of urgency in the Hultz’s voice. I should have known…

A week later there we were. The Hultz had sponsored (appropriately green) T-shirts, black bags, gloves and brooms, and had commissioned me to find a weed-eater, which I duly did. (You don’t mess with the Hultz’s instructions.)

The T-shirts for the occasion were a light-hearted dig at the municipal manager to get the message across.

Poor Rob. He’s had a fair amount of press recently, most of it unpleasant. The Hultz came up with a bunch of slogans:

“I’ll do your job Rob”

“Rates? What For?”

"It's now or never Rob" ...and the like.

I personally have nothing against ol’ Rob, and have had good chats with him from time to time. So I suggested a more communal, positive slogan: “Helping Rob with the job”.

Some will say I’m a woos. Stuff them.

Anyway, the point is you can spend all day on the Witness website posting comments about how filthy the city is … or you can use your lily-white legs to get out there and do something about it.

I recruited a not-so lily white chommie of mine, Shaun. Poor guy was just about to wash his car before I ruined his Sunday afternoon schedule. What a champ.

We scheduled ourselves an hour to do a quick fix job of the street. It took us two.

The most intriguing part of the whole operation for me was the attention we received.

A well dressed black man walked passed and said “Thanks guys”, while the usual group of street-skaters in the Pelham area sent their most junior member – a curious little Indian dude – to enquire if we were gonna do the whole suburb. “Alas, not today.”

The best part though was the traffic that stopped.

ldquo;Well done!” shouted one excited middle-aged white woman from her BMW, while another held up a lane to ask whether we are a garden service. At that point I became worried that this was a little more than I bargained for, but like I say… you don’t mess with the Hultz.

Clearly, the state of cleanliness (or lack thereof) is on the tip of everyone’s consciousness. There were a few disinterested pedestrians, but quite a few curious ones.

The Hultz wanted to get some press coverage to encourage everyone in Maritzburg to clean up their area, look after their verges, stop littering and make the city a cleaner, more beautiful place.

And like I say, who am I to argue with the Hultz?

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