Change the world


Real people in real settings playing their part to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. That, in short, is what a new series of posters is intent on capturing as part of Nelson Mandela University’s #MaskUpMandela campaign to change behaviour and save lives.

“By wearing a mask in public each person shows others they are taking responsibility for their own safety, and that of others.

“This is the message we want the posters to convey and hence the decision to photograph ordinary South Africans going about their lives in lockdown,” says Senior Director: Communication and Marketing, Chantal Janneker.

Wearing cloth masks became compulsory from 1 May as a further intervention against the spread of the coronavirus, along with that of physical distancing, the regular washing of hands and practising coughing and sneezing etiquette.

The 17 posters with the catch phrase of “Protect yourself, Protect others” have been translated into isiXhosa and Afrikaans and are available to download for free from the MaskUpMandela website.

“We want to get the message out to all communities because changing your behaviour and wearing a mask can save lives,” says Ms Janneker.

The MaskUpMandela campaign, one of many responses by the University to fighting the pandemic, is also facilitating the making of masks by volunteers and SMMEs and is distributing them to vulnerable communities.

The Mandela University team, which received the necessary permissions for the photographic shoot, were humbled and uplifted by their experience.

“I got a sense that everyone wants to contribute, no matter how big or small their contribution. People want to be responsible. You could see the smile behind their eyes when they were asked to be photographed for the campaign,” says social media practitioner Kelley Julies, who was tasked with capturing the images.

Mindful of the lockdown regulations and prevention measures, the team’s visit to Metlife Plaza in Linton Grange was Kelley’s quickest photo shoot to date.

Fortunately, the slice-of-life brief meant there was no need for the usual “lights, make-up, dress changes, action”.  Instead, it was simply a case of explaining the intent of the photograph,receiving permission and “click”.

“We wanted the visuals to depict real masks that were made or bought by real people to protect themselves and others,” says Deputy-Director Arts, Culture and Heritage Ryan Pillay. 

While the first shoot captured people queuing to shop, the second was undertaken the next day in New Brighton to primarily focus on children, since children older than two are expected to cover their mouths and nose with a mask.

The team were surprised by the eerie quiet of the usually bustling streets. 

“Even though I had been out previously, it still felt like I was in a horror movie.  Empty streets, stark buildings, silence,” says Ms Janneker.

But all that changed once they met the children who were delighted to interact with the newcomers. (Permission from their parents had been received ahead of the visit).

They happily posed for the camera in their new masks.

“All-in-all it was a great experience. On reflection, the disparities between the various areas were in stark contrast and clearly exposed the inequalities our young democracy must still address.”

The next phase of the poster campaign will focus on the University’s staff and students as they prepare for a staggered return to campus. 

Contact information
Mrs Debbie Derry
Deputy Director: Communication
Tel: 041 504 3057