Take ownership of your cities to preserve them for future generations

One of the strongest childhood memories I have is of waking in the morning and seeing my mother, our neighbours and almost everyone in our neighbourhood cleaning their yards.

One of the strongest childhood memories I have is of waking in the morning and seeing my mother, our neighbours and almost everyone in our neighbourhood cleaning their yards.

That culture exists today. The houses are spic and span. The yards are pretty, with flowers and lawns. Even if they do not have lawns, they are clean.

So, please tell me this - why do we, black men in particular, walk around pissing in public?

We take so much care of our yards and ourselves with nice clothes etcetera, yet the number of men you see pissing in public is phenomenal.

Now I know that one of the biggest problems we face, particularly in the Johannesburg city centre, is that there are not enough public toilets.

But this is no excuse to behave in this manner. Many people go to town and enter a shop to buy something. If you are doing business in a shop or elsewhere , it is easy to ask for the toilet.

If you are eating at a restaurant or fast-food place, surely you can use the toilet?

If you know you are going to walk a long distance, surely you should prepare yourself by relieving your bladder?

But the shame does not stop. All over our cities and towns the sight of men standing against walls and peeing in public is disgusting. It gets worse because if one man pisses against a wall, other men seem to follow his lead.

Walking around central Jo'burg, in particular, one is overwhelmed by the stench of piss. It should stop.

I do not raise this issue for reasons of personal taste and hygiene only. I raise it because it concerns our sense of dignity and pride in ourselves as a country and as a people.

If we continue to piss all over our own pavements and yet do not pee on our own floors in our own houses, what are we saying about ownership of these cities?

Jo'burg is my town. Why should I pee anywhere in it?

This phenomenon, and others such as littering, really do illustrate that we feel alienated by our own property, our own cities. We still live in a past where our towns and cities belonged to whites and littering felt like a bit of revenge.

Things are no longer that way. These things and places are ours now. And with that ownership comes responsibilities.

These duties include caring for our cities and towns, keeping them clean and preserving them for our children and their children's children.

I am constantly humbled when I walk into the poorest houses in squatter camps by the cleanliness and love that is put into those homes. They are created with such a sense of ownership and pride that, despite the holes in the shack, you would not find a speck of dust on any of the furniture or on the floor.

So why do we leave these beautiful houses and immediately piss against a wall in the street? That is your wall too, you know!

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