[by Cathy Gatland in Johannesburg, South Africa] - with guest sketchers from Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Friday 7 April saw South Africans take to the streets all over the country, with major marches, rallies and demonstrations in the big city centres - outside Parliament in Cape Town, the Union Buildings in Tshwane/Pretoria, Johannesburg city, Durban and Port Elizabeth as well as lining suburban streets and at traffic lights everywhere.
A few sketchers' impressions...
From Craig Paton-Ash, outside Arderne Gardens, Claremont, Cape Town. 'An initial fear was that the event would be unsupported and a damp squib, so the human chain stretching up and down Main Road for as far as we could see was a wonderful sight. The enthusiasm of the protest supporters and 'drive bys', irrespective of age, sex and colour gives us reason to hope. We had gathered with family, including grandsons who you can see in the sketch above, and friends - and had the pleasant surprise of meeting, on the same stretch of pavement, some old friends not seen for several years.
As we face the prospect of ongoing protest action we can take heart from the opportunity it will provide of increased and more wide ranging social contact.'
From Barbara Moore in Simon's Town, Cape - 'People started arriving just after 9 am, some dressed in white and some in black, a few in colours. Young and old started to line St George's Street in this naval base town of the southern Cape Peninsula. There was a cheerfulness in taking part in this statement, by the public to the government, of disgust at the current state of the nation. Anti-Zuma placards and SA flags were waved about despite a strong wind, and the residents kept coming! People had to move ever away up the road, after a time to link up with protesters in Glencairn 4 kms away. Eventually the human chain reached all the way to the City, with hands of every shade joined tightly in solidarity.'
From Fiver Löcker in Johannesburg city centre - 'It feels like a long time since I've been on a demo, back in the day when mobile phones had not yet been invented - when there was no impromptu filming of a passing dance troupe, no selfies, no arrangements on the fly with friends further ahead, messaging, news updates, instagramming while walking - but the initial buzz from seeing thousands of people united in a common cause never fails to materialise. There had been rumours of threatened violence but at the start of the march all was singing and dancing and shouted slogans.
At one point, as we were walking under the overpass in Newtown, a group of ANC-shirted men crossed our path. Anticipation, whispers, a drop in temperature, but once they had been allowed to pass, the shouts of "Zuma must fall" quickly returned to full volume.
The square was packed, with mostly black protesters, after social media accusations of white people only marching when the Rand falls - though lots of placards referred to SA's new junk status.
Water had been handed out at the start but luckily it never got hot or sunny. True to form, the traders were out selling cool drinks and snacks, and a #ZumaMustFall or DA stamp on the cheek would only set you back ZAR5.
As we left the square the plastic collectors descended to turn waste into cash.'
And bringing up the rear, me, Cathy - I was late getting out into this momentous day for various reasons, and decided to follow the news on the radio to Sandton where the middle classes were gathered along Grayston Drive. I learnt later that it became the scene of one of the few instances of aggression and violence with protesters being spat at and attacked. I got to West Street as tired stragglers were trailing back into Nelson Mandela Square, and felt as if I'd missed all the action - but it occurred to me that this scene of relative despondency reflects the mood much of the country is, and has been in, for months - as we watch in horror and disbelief the corrupt deals, dictatorial tendencies and dangerous liaisons of the president and some of his cohorts. A far cry from the first time I sketched here in this very same street back in 2010 (my USk post has fallen off the timeline) when all was euphoria and optimism.