I have returned from the Million Man March (MMM) at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Let’s get this out of the way off the bat: There were not a million people. All the nay-sayers have been proven right but I hope they are wishing that they weren’t proven right and instead contributed their body to the numbers.
Apparently the final count was 5000 and there abouts. But on the plus side there were over 15 countries with media representation at the march and broadcasting in one way or another. That is good news.
I have been a part of events like this all over the world and I think that I overestimated this one. I arrived with my brother, John, at about 7:30. We parked close and waited for the masses to arrive.
In amidst of the waiting I managed to get some face time with the incredibly humble Desmond Dube, organiser of the MMM. What a great man. He has the ability to make you feel welcome and inspired. He greeted my, I introduced myself and showed him the SA Rocks T-shirt that I was wearing and he was immediately warm to me and give me a hug hello. He thanked me for my work and praised my deep love for South Africa. When you hear people thanking you out loud it really is quite rewarding.
I left Desmond to his devices, which included interviews with what seemed to be e-tv and other TV stations.
At this time it’s about 8am in the morning and there is an inconsistent and slow trickle of people coming in to the Union Building grassed area.
Then at about 10am I think it was, The Times gave me a ring and did a podcast with me about the vibe and attendance and such things:
Click play to listen to the podcast!
At the time of writing this post the podcast had been viewed 1100 times! Not too bad I think.
Things started to get a bit interesting as the day developed. The DA showed a strong presence and tried hard to market themselves effectively throughout the day. Azapo arrived and tried to show their presence, unfortunately that was short lived as they downed their protest tools and chilled out.
My main gripe the entire day was with Altec Netstar and their brand punting the whole day. I was approached by 6 different sales people informing me about their new product called the gaurd-something-or-other. I was a bit offended, being sold to while protesting crime. They really missed the point of the march. It was not an event to punt a product to people. Not at all. Bad move. I wont be buying their product any time soon.
I did a mini-vodcast with a couple of people and managed to get Helen Zille herself on camera speaking to Bongani from Carte Blanche. Nice work I think.
One of the most impressive things that I saw the entire day was the presence of St Mary’s school at the march. Their Matric class was present in full force, full school uniform and voices warm. They showed great spirit and intention. I interviewed the headmistress of the school and she was steadfast in her convictions. She also mentioned to me that the entire St Mary’s school marched in Waverly to show that they own their area, not crime. Great stuff.
And here is a video of the girls from St Mary’s showing us how to protest peacefully.
Below are some of the photos that I took throughout the day. There were many more, but these were the ones worth placing online.
I also twittered (live blogged) the entire day to some mixed responses. Some of the more interested tweets are listed below:
At The union buildings. Very empty. Hope it fills up. Already spoken to desmone dube.
#millionmanmarch ppl streaming in. Vibe is great! Music, support. Loads of political parties unfortunately missing the point
Just did a short podcast with the times. Nice one, numbers slowly increasing. 1hour 2 go.
Live coverage started on sabc. Helen zille just arrived
Numbers here very sad but not focusing on negative. Ppl here have been fantastic.
Desmonds opening line “can a comedian do it?”
‘we need to remove those who cannot hear the cries of the people’
victims of crime speaking. Sad stories. Everyone in crowd nodding in agreement. Sad that we can all relate.
‘crime is robbing us of eachother’
‘crime is the government not servicing its people’
‘we cannot allow criminals to mess with our freedom’ minister booed off stage. Perfect treatment.
One of the most incredible things that happened to me at the MMM was realising that I am making a difference. This blog is actually being read (even though the stats say that it’s anothe thing to realise it in the real world). It is being read by all sorts of people! I found this out at the MMM. People came up to me, asked about the shirt and told me that they read SA Rocks every day, once a week, in the inbox or on the MMM website. To hear people (and see them) face to face telling you that you are making a difference, that they read your website without you asking them to and that they support your efforts is moving and mind blowing. It must be one of the greatest rewards for a blogger – to have “Real life” people telling you that they know who you are. What a great feeling, a very rewarding day all round. I feel like I made a difference and I feel like standing together with 5000 other people is better than standing alone. Whether it was 1 million or not, I don’t feel alone anymore.
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