In an attempt to inspire ordinary people to do extraordinary things, Brand South Africa is airing the second season of its Play Your Part series, which encourages responsible citizenship, pride and patriotism, on SABC 1.
This series, a 24-minute weekly programme featuring dynamic people who are driven to bring about change, returns to the small screen on 9 July at 7pm. In keeping with the mandate from Brand South Africa – whose five brand pillars are ubuntu, diversity, sustainability, possibility, and innovation / creativity – the television series traverses the country in search of 33 individuals from all spheres of life who are doing their bit for the good of the country.
Play Your Part is a campaign aimed at inspiring all South Africans to contribute to positive change by becoming actively involved in making a difference. It brings together individuals who are doing things to improve their communities and respond to people’s needs by donating their time, resources, services or products.
"Enhancing national pride, patriotism and social cohesion requires a collective effort from all South Africans, not only business and government.
"We want to encourage South Africans to play their part in community building and development, with small actions that make a big difference in the lives of others," says Miller Matola, Brand South Africa's chief executive officer.
The television show, presented by Katleho Sinizasan and Mmabatho Montsho, gets to know these people, looking at where they work and live, and what they do.
The featured folk inhabit all worlds, from high-end fashion and art to corporate success stories, inventors and athletes.
In the first episode, we are introduced to Palesa Masuku from North West, who won the Eskom 2011 Young Scientist award for her discovery of an alternative energy source, creating charcoal from marula nuts.
When she entered her project in the Eskom Expo for Young Scientists, her ground-breaking research secured a science laboratory worth R25 000 for her school, JM Ntsime High. In addition, Masuku has been invited to the London International Youth Science Fair in August 2012, a gathering of more than 300 students from 60 countries.
Charles Tau, a boxing trainer and manager from Lwandle in Western Cape, is also featured in the first episode. A former professional boxer, Tau has been running the Amandla Boxing Association from his gym for 15 years. Here he trains young boys from the age of seven at no cost as he believes he is doing his part to combat crime in his community.
People such as these two are featured in each issue of Play Your Part. You will meet Tabo Mkandiwire, an acrobatic gymnast who coaches other aspiring athletes; and Claire Reid, a green inventor and the brains behind pre-fertilised seed strips that help reduce water wastage by 80% and who has created jobs for previously unemployed women.
Other individuals highlighted in the season include Sifiso Dlamini, who is a self-taught takkie maker with five staff members; Tshepo Phakathi, who started a recycling business with a friend at the tender age of six; Benny Masekwameng, a celebrity chef who was inspired by his mother providing meals to construction workers; Kagiso Legobe, an adventure entrepreneur who offers learnerships to tourism graduates; and DJ Zinhle, one of the hottest female DJs in the country, who plays an active role in Fuse, South Africa’s first DJ academy.
Brand South Africa launched its new slogan, Inspiring New Ways, on 4 July in Midrand. A new television ad featuring some of the country's most influential and inspiring people across all fields is promoting the new pay-off line.
The organisation's mandate is "to build South Africa's nation brand reputation in order to improve South Africa’s global competitiveness". Matola explains:
"This is often about explaining and bolstering our international reputation in the world media and at various international events to drive international investment and trade."
He adds: "Firstly, let us admit that long before the theorising starts and long after it ends, already there are people who are building just such an inspiring and cohesive society, people who are playing their part to improve our communities, who reach out to fellow South Africans, and who inspire us by overcoming the odds."
One place the nation can start is by telling these stories and showing that achieving a better tomorrow and a better country is indeed possible. The people who appear in the second season give true accounts of how South Africans inspire new ways in their lives for those around them, he says.
"To us at Brand South Africa, our positioning is not simply a slogan. It is an expression of our present-day reality and our future intent. It also reflects the reputation we seek to forge as citizens of a global village, as a nation that is constantly 'inspiring new ways' to create the society we want to live in by playing our part."
This television series is one of many tools Brand South Africa employs to inspire and mobilise South Africans to contribute. Other tools include a mobi-site to ensure that positive stories can reach wider audiences.
"Play Your Part has also developed Facebook and Twitter profiles to interact with South Africans, urging them to share their positive stories. In addition, Play Your Part clips and stories are uploaded on YouTube so that we not only engage locals, but an international audience," says Matola.
Alternatively, individuals who are willing to contribute their time, services and resources can log on to the Play Your Part website to find community projects near them.
"Often people want to help, they want to give, but they don’t know where or how to do this.
"Our website as well as the Facebook platform exposes South Africans to an array of opportunities to play their part in building pride and patriotism … contributing to social cohesion and living the spirit of ubuntu," says Matola.
Acting programmes manager at SABC 1 Sam Mpherwane says: "SABC 1 Mzansi Fo Sho prides itself on scheduling and producing programmes that tell local stories that resonate with our audiences.
"Play Your Part is such a programme that looks at ordinary South Africans, people who have made a difference in the lives of their communities and the country as a whole … We encourage our viewers to watch Play Your Part and be inspired to do the same in making South Africa a better place."
Matola says Brand South Africa looks forward to growing Play Your Part across a number of other media channels in future and encourages businesses, organisations and individuals to take up the challenge. "We believe that as each one takes deliberate positive action to help, to teach, to grow, we are truly making ours a better country to live in."
And since July is Nelson Mandela Month, South Africans should ask themselves how they are going to contribute to their communities in honour of Madiba.