Tall Mpoppies by Penz Malinga

Tall Mpoppies – Nhlonipho Zondi
In our community, many people are ignorant of written text, so word of mouth is the best mode of communication if you really want to get a message across. Many pamphlets about environmental and social issues just end up in the rubbish, unread.
Nhlonipho Zondo is one of the star actors in the Mpophomeni Sanitation Education Project drama group. He is seen on many occasions with his pants down, on a makeshift toilet seat. He is purely into drama because of talent, and started out with a group called Seta Promises who were educating the youth about social issues, such as teenage pregnancy, lifestyle diseases and also trying to fight poverty and lack of employment.
He is usually seen portraying the role of a lazy, ignorant son who is told by his mother to take the rubbish out on the day it is due to be collected. However because the boy is still sleeping when the rubbish truck comes, he misses it, putting the full bag of trash in the sewer instead. This causes a blockage in the system, the plumbers have to be called and they reveal that the manhole is blocked by solid waste.

Nhlonipho Zondo in his "office".

Nhlonipho Zondo in his “office”.

This account of one of the street drama plays is based on a true story. It addresses some the major environmental challenges in Mpophomeni. These are: the prevalence of solid waste often due to illegal dumping; water wastage due to leaking taps; the surcharging manholes due to the flushing of condoms, sanitary towels, socks, old underwear, food and feathers down the drains. Residents’ claims of rubbish not being collected are sometimes a sham and negligence is often to blame. It is important for people to know their streets rubbish collection schedule and take their rubbish out when it is due, it is helpful to have the rubbish positioned where goats and other domestic animals cannot reach it.
“Being part of the drama group has opened me up to many opportunities to learn about the environment and the wrong we commit unto it. Previously I did not know that you could tell the quality of the water by the invertebrates you find living in it, or that burning waste leads to bigger issues in the atmosphere. I love the work that I do and it vital that it is well received by the people in our community to alleviate the work of the plumbers.” Nhlonipho concludes.