Creatively fighting ’mask fatigue’

Zikhona Madubela and Wandisile Nqeketo next to a mural of a masked Nqeketo painted in Harare, Khayelitsha.

A group of local change drivers in Khayelitsha have been roped in by an international agency that uses public mobilisation and story-telling to shift policies and change public narratives when it matters most.

The New York-based agency, Purpose, has been at the forefront of campaigns that dealt with gun laws in the US and is now involved in the End Covid For All campaign which aims to aid vulnerable nations.

Wandisile Nqeketo who works in the tourism industry was chosen to facilitate the South African chapter of the campaign which they aptly nicknamed “Zwakala: Do It For You”.

They have formulated creative ways to get the message across, among them painting murals of young influential people from the area encouraging people to wear masks.

“In Zwakala we are tackling the issue of mask fatigue by painting murals in strategic areas around Khayelitsha encouraging people to take precaution,” said Mr Nqeketo.

His team consists of young entrepreneurs and activists like Zikhona Madubela, Zola Maphila,Siyabulela Sophi, Ncumisa Mkabile and Sizwe Nzima.

He said the campaign, which also includes virtual dialogues and poetry sessions, encourage social distancing and their main aim is to combat mask fatigue and resistance to other Covid-19 restrictions.

“We commissioned a few local artists to make murals using our faces wearing masks so that people understand that masks are hear to stay,” said Nqeketo.

He said the project has a potential of being rolled over to other townships across South Africa if it was found to be driving the message .

“Our first prize would be to have the communities adhering to the Covid safety measures. I think that will add muscle to the government’s efforts to combat the pandemic,” he said.

Ms Madubela said it was important for people to “personalise the pandemic”.

“The pandemic has wreaked havoc in all facets of life and the surviving people owe it to themselves to stay safe,” she said.

She emphasised that wearing a mask can save a lot of people. “Youth are the super spreaders of the virus and we are trying to to appeal to them now,” she said.

“These murals were unveiled on national Youth Day to symbolise the amazing power of young people,” she said.

Zikhona Madubela and Wandisile Nqeketo stand next to a mural of entrepreneur Ncumisa Mkabile.