Let there be light: An update on the #AnotherLightUp project in Khayelitsha

Design is too important a source code to only be in service of brands. At Design Indaba we believe design’s most noble purpose is in service of people.
Posted 9 Mar 17 By Design Indaba Duration: 00:04:48 African DesignDesign Activism Design Indaba News / Do Tank News Comments

Part of the Project

In 2014, Design Indaba launched the #ANOTHERLIGHTUP project with world-renowned street artist Faith47 and design collaborative Thingking. The project combined public art as a communications campaign with the potential of crowd-funding to build streetlights in Khayelitsha, where many residents feel that their safety is compromised by the dark of the evenings. 

“At Design Indaba, ever since we started, the huge differentiator is our activism. We utilise design and that skill or facility to improve the quality of life,” says Design Indaba founder and CEO Ravi Naidoo. 

In Monwabisi Park, Khayelitsha, the lived reality of more than 25 000 people is that they are very likely to be the victim of a violent crime, even lose their lives, for walking to the toilet or communal tap at night. In informal settlements there is a direct correlation between light and safety.

The #ANOTHERLIGHTUP project raised funds for streetlights to light up a 700m pathway between public taps and other better lit areas. Installing lights is one impactful move towards creating a safer space for the local residents of Monwabisi Park. The lights are now installed and working and the effects on the community are palpable. Not only are the women, children and men feeling that their streets are safer to walk along, they have also taken community safety into their own hands and have set up a volunteer safety group. The lights have made them all feel empowered. 

Since the launch of the project, which was made possible by the organisation VPUU (Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading), we’ve been tracking its progress and now we want to bring you an update and share some of the heartwarming stories from the community members themselves, who are seeing their streets lit up for the first time.

“Here in the community it used to be dark, you’d walk and not be aware of robbers,” says Phindile Rwuaxa, one of Monwabisi’s new community safety volunteers. “But now that there are lights you can walk safely. Even at night, it’s like daylight.”

Faith47’s artwork, entitled “Harvest” and which sits astride one of Cape Town's main innercity highways on De Waal Drive, serves as a reminder that there are people who lack the luxury of light in the city. During the campaign, LEDs embedded in the multi-storey piece would light up at night each time enough money was raised for one new light to be installed in a pathway of the informal settlement of Monwabisi Park in Khayelitsha.

“Design is too important a source code for the 21st century to only be in service of brands and companies,” adds Naidoo. “A huge part of what we are trying to do to expand the scope of design at Design Indaba is to look at design in service of people. It’s the most noble purpose of design.”