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The City of Joburg marked the annual Earth Hour not only by switching off lights at major landmarks, but also with vibrant song and dance at a concert in Soweto.
AT exactly 8:30pm on 26 March, Soweto’s Orlando Stadium and other City buildings went dark to honour Earth Hour, the global campaign led by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to fight climate change. Earth Hour participants are asked to switch off their lights and electrical appliances for one hour.


MMC for environment Matshidiso Mfikoe helps executive mayor Amos Masondo switch off lights at Orlando StadiumMMC for environment Matshidiso Mfikoe helps executive mayor Amos Masondo switch off lights at Orlando StadiumCommunity members, who had attended the Earth Hour concert held at the nearby Orlando West Regional Park, marvelled as darkness engulfed the huge stadium.

Joburg’s Executive Mayor Amos Masondo, member of the mayoral committee for environment Matshidiso Mfikoe, and Dr Morné du Plessis, CEO of WWF South Africa, led the switch-off ceremony.

Masondo told those present that the initiative had the blessing and the support of the City. “We are indeed committed to this cause (and) we call on everyone to go beyond one hour,” he said. “Together let us build better communities.”

Mfikoe urged community members to take care of their parks and trees.

The global campaign has received the stamp of approval from community members too. Thembi Nxumalo said, “I think that technology has interfered with the earth so the hour for me is a way of honouring the earth that God gave us.”

She added that the idea is a good one because kids - especially those who are still in school - need to learn how “our electrical conveniences are costing us the precious earth”.

Two other Earth Hour attendees, Busi Khulu and Sbongile Skhosana, said the initiative had their firm support.


Cool crooners: The Bala BrothersCool crooners: The Bala BrothersOnce the area went dark, audience members each received a candle. In the darkness, the park that is situated just behind the Orlando Stadium came alive with music and entertainment.

Through song and dance the multi-award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir and the ever-popular Bala Brothers helped those present to forget about the darkness and the cold and wet weather.

Joining in the singing and dancing, the audience was oblivious of the minutes ticking away and before they knew it, it was time for the lights to come back on.

Leading by example
The City, through its parks and open space managing company City Parks, is involved in a campaign called Bridging the Green Divide, which focuses on creating new parks, restoring conservation areas, beautifying road islands and planting trees.

Already 200 000 trees have been planted in the south of Joburg, which was dry and dusty compared to the green and leafy northern suburbs.

Rea Vaya, the City’s bus rapid transit system, also helps fight climate change as it is the only public transport system with reduced gas emissions. Rea Vaya buses run on low-sulphur diesel and are able to transport between 75 and 112 passengers per vehicle.


A child marks Earth Hour in OrlandoA child marks Earth Hour in OrlandoThe Cosmo City Climate Roofing Project is another City programme that seeks to combat global warming. This multi-million project provides low-income homes in Cosmo City with solar water heaters, compact fluorescent light bulbs and ceiling insulation. This helps save approximately 1 645 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

An energy-efficient mindset should not only be prevalent in municipalities and local government, but also homes. There are many practical and easy ways to save energy including:

• Turning off appliances at the wall. Cellular phone chargers, shavers and electric toothbrushes all continue to draw electricity even when they are fully charged. A television left in standby mode uses nearly a quarter of the electricity it uses when it is on;
• Turning off taps while brushing teeth. This can save up to nine litres of water a minute;
• Flushing with less water. This can be done by placing a water hippo (2-litre bottle filled with water) in the cistern;
• When using a stove, match the size of the stove plate to the size of the pot. Using a smaller pot on a larger stove plate means that heat is escaping needlessly from the exposed part of the plate.

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