Activator, Sthembile Zondo (25), wakes up at 4:30am each day and chooses a busy Johannesburg street with people going to work and school just to tell them to believe in themselves. She has two boards written- “Enjoy Your Day” and “Believe in Yourself”. She stands in the middle of the street with her board, aiming to pass a message to fellow South Africans. “My aim is to encourage people to have a beautiful-productive day and erase the stigma that if you are standing on the street you are poor.” said S’thembile.
She started this campaign in her township, Soweto, in March last year. She looked at the rate of poverty, unemployment, inequality, women abuse, etc. and saw the need to encourage people not to lose hope. “My mission is to make a world a better place by bringing the smile and hope to people.” she explained.
Being a part of the ACTIVATE! Network has reinforced the idea that that revolution does not come in one way. Growing up in a township, where there is unity and solidarity taught Sthembile “Ubuntu”. The words of Nelson Mandela that “a fundamental concern for others in our individual space can go a long way in making the world a better place,” are always in her mind.
Lighting up peoples’ day is very important to Sthembile. She believes that how people start their day determines how they do their job when they get to work or school. “I am doing this to make people smile and to uplift their day,” she said.
Her dream for South Africa is that all people support and encourage each other in their various endeavours. She acknowledges that driving change is not an easy task, and still believes that in order to build democracy, everyone should play their role. “If we want the world to be a better place, we need to collaborate and support one another- no one has done it alone.”
“Some people think I was given a form of punishment to go and stand on the streets, this shows how much we have accepted the fact that we do not care about each other.” Sthembile believes that it is her responsibility as a change driver to challenge anything considered as a normal (but not) for the betterment of the society.
While her project has gotten very positive responses – especially from commuters who see her sign, Sthembile does not always receive positive responses. . Some believe that she is wasting her time and seeking unnecessary attention. “Going against the norm is not easy, people always look at you like you are crazy, but I will not stop until the message reaches everyone in the world.”
So far, she has been to various streets in Gauteng, including Pretoria, Johannesburg Park Station, Braamfontein and Vereeniging. People who support her campaign are using the hashtag #EnjoyYourDay on social networks to show their support. Some people wave and blow kisses to her as they pass her standing in the middle of the road.
Sthembile’s initiative has also garnered some media attention. Earlier this year, she was interviewed by Soweto TV and Shift on SABC 1. Her story has also been published on the United States Embassy website. Sthembile always tells them one thing: “I want people to smile, and make the most out of their day.”
Sthembile would like to have other people across the country to join her campaign. To get involved with this campaign, it’s as easy as writing your positive message on a board, choosing a busy street and then displaying your message. You can use the hashtag #EnjoyYourDay on Twitter to contribute on social media.
Sthembile Zondo is the founder and managing director of Solutionaire Phase Pty Ltd. Her company organises events and promotes art. In collaboration with other companies, she has organised Poetry Slam at Cumba’s lounge and Mr & Miss Meadowlands.
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