On the morning of the September 5, 2019, I woke up with a belief that despite all the negativity around me there is so much to be thankful for.
I quickly decided to make a short Facebook video where I mentioned just a few things I was grateful for, and soon a friend suggested that I start the #ImStaying Facebook group.
Like many of my friends, I’ve been feeling down and somewhat depressed about what has been happening in this beautiful country. As a people we’ve been bombarded by bad, and in many cases of horrific, news of continued violent acts against each other.
During the past few months, just listening to the news became very tough for me. I therefore set up the Facebook page and things kind of just snowballed from there.
When it reached 5 000 followers, I thought that it was incredible how many people were on the page – and that I helped to create something very special. As I am writing this, the page stands at 800 000 people and grow by an average of 10 000 people every single day. The page is currently among the top ten fastest growing pages on Facebook globally and has an engagement rate of over 90%.
You simply can’t believe how much has happened in the past few weeks.
Through encouragement and group suggestions, we’ve formalised #imstaying into a NGO. We’ve had the most incredible support coming in from strangers from all walks of life in this country who want to assist.
A legal firm offered their guidance and services to help register the NGO and a trademark attorney has assisted in registering #imstaying in almost every category possible.
Web developers, graphic designers, clothing manufacturers, writers, moderators, etc. – these are all people who have just stepped forward to say “we are part of #imstaying”.
I’ve also been so overwhelmed by the response that despite working in the property industry, I’ve decided to dedicate myself full-time to #imstaying.
The past few weeks people have been phoning me, telling me what an incredible man I am just for starting a Facebook page. And, I’ve done so many interviews over the past weeks – locally and internationally – that my voice struggles to keep up, but I really just want people to know that I am an ordinary guy.
All I’ve really done was to decide that I needed a mindset change about how I was feeling. When I started the group, I recalled a line from the movie Bohemian Rhapsody where Freddie Mercury’s dad tells him: “good thoughts, good words, good deeds”. That’s really all I want to achieve.
Our tiny core team and our 50 volunteer moderators are so grateful to each and every person who has been part of this movement and its unprecedented growth. As a team we often cry together – simply overwhelmed by the incredible stories shared.
Yes, there have been a few nay sayers, a few conspiracy theories, and a few people who have tried to capitalise on a good thing, but this movement is way beyond me. It's about the people of this country who are getting together and talking, sharing and actively doing their bit to change what is happening on the ground in South Africa.
It’s about good thoughts, good words and good deeds.