House for Madiba
In 2003, when working on East Coast Radio Breakfast Show, Darren, through his regular travels to and from JHB and Durban, noticed Barcelona Squatter camp on his journey from DBN Airport into town. It frustrated him that people had to live in such conditions, and he wanted to do something using his radio platform that spoke to well over 1 million listeners.
He felt that, with such a visible location, if low-cost housing could be achieved, with the addition of the right branding, awareness and advertising – in a way that would be visible to other people driving to and from Durban airport – perhaps they too would get involved.
Darren took his show to Barcelona one morning, with a live broadcast, and opened the lines for listeners – individuals or corporates – for contributions to build at least one proto-type house in the squatter camp. eThekwini Municipality and local government fully supported the initiative, and after the broadcast, enough had been pledged – from building materials to housing content and donations – to complete one house at the location.
The process to build a visible, attractive KZN-style “rondavel” began immediately, and shortly after, the dwelling, adorned with beautifully crafted African landscape art on its walls, was complete. It was situated on the boundary of Barcelona, so that motorists could witness the new house, and with the associated radio exposure and branding at the location, be inspired to get involved to start a process of more being built. (Durban Airports Company came on board shortly after to commit to building 20 more in the next year!).
Having left ECR for JHB shortly after – but not before pleading with the station to continue with the initiative at Barcelona – the momentum was lost for a while, however it is pleasing to note that Barcelona became the first project along the N2 Highway in Durban, to be completed with low-cost housing!
In 2009, when Darren had moved on to Jacaranda FM, the Barcelona project still fresh in his mind, he wanted to pick up where he left off with the housing initiative.
Darren felt that housing was a key piece of the puzzle in bettering the lives of disadvantaged South Africans – those that live in shacks, cannot afford food or transport to get to jobs, let alone pay for an education. All of these – jobs, food, transport … are an important piece of this puzzle also. However, imagine a young learner, who has assistance to afford schooling, yet must return every day to a shack to study and do homework … conditions that are definitely not conducive to achieving a decent education to provide a platform to achieve a decent livelihood, and life, going forward. Dignity is as important a factor in being able to lift oneself to a better life, as anything else.
At this time, the “67 Minutes for Mandela” Drive had been conceptualised, and Darren saw an ideal opportunity to tie OneWingz, his urge to continue his housing initiative, and the “67 Minutes” together into one project.
Darren’s route home to Hartbeespoort from JHB daily took him past Lanseria. At the time they were developing the road into a double carriageway for the upcoming World Cup. There had been a squatter camp adjacent to this road, which was forcibly uprooted, and it’s residents moved elsewhere. 4 families stubbornly remained – moving their shacks to the other side of the road. What they didn’t realise was, that where they had re-erected their shacks was right in the middle of the new section of road! As much as authorities insisted they move, the families refused, and through legal issues, they could be forcibly moved. So the bizarre situation presented itself, where there were four occupied shacks right in the middle of a newly constructed carriageway!
With the Mandela Day initiative fresh in his mind, Darren had an idea, to try and assist these families, who were now not only living in squalor, but also in danger, by relocating them to one of the low-cost housing developments in the area – by building them homes, as per his Barcelona Project.
He engaged the families one day on his way home, yet the Matriarch of the families refused to accede – saying that a political party had been there just before the elections and had promised them new homes. To this day that promise has never been fulfilled – not surprisingly.
After many weeks of stubborn refusal, and with Mandela Day looming, Darren received a call from Patrick, one of the other family members, who requested that his family, and Lisbeth Masilo’s family, be considered as recipients of new homes, as per the original commitment. After being rejected by Cosmos City (5 year waiting list) there was an option on land in Olievenhoutbosch.
OneWingz had its two families, and so, on Mandela Day, our 67 minutes was to open the lines on Darren’s Breakfast Show again – this time on Jacaranda FM – and invite listeners and corporates – both in the building industry and elsewhere – to contribute to the building of these houses. It took 67 minutes on air, to achieve more than enough pledges to be able to build the 2 houses!
And so the wheels of project 2 were set in motion! The broadcast had achieved everything except land. ABSA sponsored one R 100 000 property in Olievenhoutbosch, and the other was paid for by Darren himself, after no other land sponsor could be found.
In November that year, Darren and his Breakfast Team broadcast LIVE from the handover of the 2 brand new houses to Patrick and the families! “Angels” at the time, also committed to paying the first year rates for the families, but beyond that, that and utility costs was all they had to pay for – the houses were theirs!
Since then the “Build a House in 67 for Madiba” Initiative has continued as part of OneWingz’ commitment to providing a better life for as many people as it possibly can!
- In 2013/14 through Mix FM, a house was pledged in the manner. However the recipient, on sourcing relevant documents for clearances, etc, was found to be an illegal resident in South Africa, and the project had to be put on hold for that year.
- In 2014, through Darren’s new radio partner, Hot FM, the initiative once again realised everything needed to build a home for Julia and her son Sihle. They resided in a shack at the foot of a mine-dump, under electrical pylons. Sihle had serious respiratory problems and where they resided provided a serious health risk to him. It was a unanimous choice to provide a house for them. On Mandela Day 2015, Julia and Sihle Naila were presented with their new house at a LIVE broadcast at the completed project, with MEC Paul Mashatile handing over the key, and planting a tree in their fully landscaped garden, in Mr Mandela’s honour.
- In 2016, with the response to the on-air aspect of the initiative growing with each broadcast, Darren took on the challenge of building two houses that year! Previously, when this was done, it was through Jacaranda – a commercial station with over 2 million listeners. This time it was through Mix FM, a community station with a listenership of just over 200 000. This made no difference! The community of Gauteng came to the party and pledges of materials, services and donations were enough in those 67 minutes on air, to provide for 2 complete houses!
The homes are scheduled to be handed over to our 2 families – Nonsikelelo and her 4 children (the letter nominating her is below – an horrific story of Nonsikelelo’s ordeal) and Quiet Mtimkulu (a security guard in Hillbrow, who had nominated Nonsikelelo in the first place, yet failed to reveal that he too was living in terrible conditions – sharing a small flat in Hillbrow with 3 other families! He has 4 children as well) – on Mandela Day this year – in the same way that we had done the previous ones.
From: Quiet Mthimkhulu [Fidelity-ADT]
Sent: Friday, July 14, 2017 8:30 AM
Subject: 67 Houses of 67 minutes ( Competition)
Thank you so much to your beloved Radio station for taking part in this extra ordinary activity of the 67 minutes of honouring Nelson Mandela and also for giving us this opportunity to take part by Choosing the front line beneficiaries through your effort. I hereby choose Nonsikelelo Tshazi who leaves in Tembisa in a shack. I new her dating back before year 2000 and she was living in Alexandra in a shack with other girls some times on the Street. This was after both her parents died in the Eastern Cape. She was then gang raped all night long along the Jukskei river but fortunately the suspects had no intensions of killing her.
She received all the assistance after the incident and there she was back again vulnerable in Alexandra. There was a brother who lived in the same street with us and this girl and he was aware of the incident about this young girl. He started to assisted the girl with most items that she needed although he had no stable job then.
This brother ended up opting to marry this girl regardless what he knew about her and they now have 4 kids, 2 boys & 2 girls. What is touching is that they live with all these kids, the girls are 14 & 16 years old and they still share a shack together. They both cannot find work and I believe that if they did, then we will be aving a one exemplary family. The story is very long and I tried to give just a brief of it
Nonsikelelo & Quiet have now signed their OTP’s for their land in Westonaria Borwa, for which OneWIngz will be paying! The BriDev Developments Team will soon hit the ground with all our donors and sponsors’ materials and services in order to get their homes built and handed over before the end of December 2019!