Staying alive has never been so fashionable: A campaign to get as many South Africans as possible to wear orange masks once a week has been launched this month – but its motivations go far, far beyond the cosmetic.
Why are South Africans wearing orange masks on Fridays?
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation is the brains behind the initiative. They came up with the idea to take a stand against corruption in South Africa – most of which, ironically, has been focused around the recent PPE scandal. The organisation has staged a number of protests in the past few weeks, driving home the message behind the masks:
Ali Gule from @OUTASA says that corruption is a cancer that runs deep and is a shame to our democracy. He says we have gathered at the flame of democracy in mourning when we should be celebrating the values of Constitutional values #OrangeMaskFridays pic.twitter.com/oa1nktJnCC
— Kathrada Foundation (@KathradaFound) September 18, 2020
Taking a stand against corruption
The Foundation has chosen the colour orange due to its criminal connotations. This is the same colour as the uniforms worn by South African prisoners, and the demonstrations have been organised with the goal of putting pressure on politicians to send their crooked comrades to jail. These masked protesters are in it for the long-haul, too.
“We urge organisations across all sectors to source or sew their own orange masks and make a statement by wearing them every Friday up until 9 December, which is the World Anti-Corruption Day. We refuse to sit by idly as COVID-preneurs, politicians and public servants steal money that is meant to save lives.”
“Our call puts the power back in the hands of the public. People can share pictures of themselves online, under the hashtag #OrangeMaskFridays. We also urge citizens to take part in yard-pickets, and use orange banners and ribbons to make sure their voices are heard on this matter.”
Statement from The Foundation