By Melanie Baumeister
On Saturday, the 5th of September, hundreds of Sedgefielders ignored predictions of inclement weather to gather along the national highway. Their mission – to be part of MOVE ONE MILLION – a global uprising of people standing in solidarity against crime and corruption in South Africa’s government, and the poverty, inequality and other adverse issues that are experienced daily by so many citizens of this nation.
Notwithstanding the seriousness of the issues at hand, the united local community put its usual festive spin on the occasion. The town was certainly not going to go quietly about the business of ‘being heard’, and in true African form there were Dj’s ‘laying down beats’ and some very enthusiastic dancing in the streets – all socially distanced and, for the most part, masked up for COVID.
The crowds were a real mixed bag, from all walks of life and all areas in and around Sedgefield. Standing proud in their black and white t-shirts (produced locally, and sold for no profit), waving their South African flags and displaying their placards proudly – the sense of patriotism was palpable, portraying the undying hope that the community has for a better future.
Under the mosaic heart on the corner at our only traffic lights, it really felt like people were determined to make a difference and bring about change! Especially when local Zumba ladies took to the tar to add some oomph with a performance of the dance craze ‘Jerusalema’.
And as the word had been put out by local organiser, Sonette Jacobs to stay within the law, all the highway traffic could pass through Sedgefield unhindered, and the supportive tooting of hooters and waving at local people lining the streets in their droves was definitely the order of the day. Local law enforcement was no doubt suitably impressed that they didn’t have to get heavy-handed. After all, what we all want is tolerance and peace, and Move One Million might just be the vehicle that’s going to get us there.
As well as the national drive, Move One Million has garnered significant traction amongst South Africans abroad, with expats from 16 other countries taking part, via social media. Many have posted photos from their towns where they are seen with their families proudly holding up the SA flag. The largest recorded gathering outside South Africa was in London, UK where more than 600 people got together for the cause. They and others abroad expressed their solidarity, showing that they still have a vested interest in the future of their home country.
With the founders of the movement steering the wave of resistance to corruption and crime, using all the platforms of social media, their manifesto is simple: ‘We are in a battle for the heart and soul of South Africa. We cannot allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear for one more minute!’
We have been assured that MOVE ONE MILLION is not a fly-by-night group, and that 5 September was just the beginning. Indeed the next peaceful protest has already been set for the 24th of October, and those that can will be on the streets again – making some noise and taking up space, getting noticed for the plight of all of South Africa’s people.
Will Move One Million pave the way for a better future for all South Africans? Perhaps, but only time will tell. In the very least it served to unite an often divided people behind a common and most admirable cause.
By Melanie Baumeister