Project Thuthukani sweeps the streets, builds environmental self-determination in South Africa

The Uhuru Movement’s health organization, the All African People’s Development & Empowerment Project (AAPDEP), has been built in South Africa since last year. One of the important focuses of the organization will be educating the community on waste through a project called Thuthukani.

The name of the project comes from isiZulu, and it means to improve/develop. This project was conceived by the Party because in the township of Evaton West, there is no waste management system—not even pickup trucks—and the trash was piling up to the extent that sidewalks and tuck-shops had trash beside them.

There has been a system that the comrades in Evaton West came up with a few years ago in order to deal with this problem. It began with going door to door and signing up homeowners to fund the process of waste pickups (which were done on foot with a wheeled bin). Another important aspect was separating trash, and both these things were taught to the community each house we went to, each time we visited.

Project Thuthukani developed pride in the community

Community members started developing a sense of pride in being able to do something for themselves, and before we knew it, passersby would take our numbers and ask when we were going to come to their block or would offer our organizers money.

This work allowed for there to be a community garden built once one of the larger dumpsites was cleaned up by the Uhuru Movement branch in Evaton West. This was prior to AAPDEP—from 2019 to 2021.

At one time, the African National Congress neocolonial party brought pickup trucks after seven years of not having taken initiative, and the people cussed them out and told them that we solved the problem ourselves. It was really empowering!

After the July Uprising happened in 2021, there was a need to defend the black working class as the government had brutally attacked the people and labeled their actions against the malls as “looting.” Thus, we needed all hands on deck, and Project Thuthukani was halted.

Although it has been years now, we still see traces of it in the community through some youths that have tried to emulate what they could understand from our system. However, unfortunately, without the theory behind the project, it has taken a step down, and trash has resurfaced in the community—despite the garden we built being ever active in the hands of the people.

Project Thuthukani is returning even better

This year, AAPDEP has prospects of taking this project on—but this time, there will be more education in the form of videos, pictures, and memes based on Project Thuthukani’s findings. A thing we are currently doing in Evaton West is going back to the houses we used to work with and providing the pamphlets that allow for the people to burn waste within their own yards by creating “disposal grounds.” These are very helpful in creating manure from ash to be used for planting.

An aspect of Thuthukani is recycling that which cannot or mustn’t be burnt—such as food waste as well as glass, tin cans, electronic waste, etc. All of this funds the community economically, feeding farm animals and creating a source of income for recyclers in the community. So this has been the victory that we achieved in this program over the years—we learned how to solve problems ourselves as poor black folk.

Project Thuthukani has a line that it has used to win the people to care about our environment, and that is “freedom comes from power, which comes from control, which control comes from responsibility.” We believe that in sharing the information needed to help our people get a better understanding, we are indeed getting closer to freedom. Clean up the trash; clean up the mind!



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