The Western Cape’s much-loved Traffic Chief Kenny Africa is retiring on Friday, July 31. He has been working in the field for 46 years, and hopes his contribution to the fight against road fatalities and misconduct will make a change in the long-run.
This decades-long career that has made him a household name was not always his plan. According to EWN, Africa had dreaming of being a lawyer, but changed his mind when a convoy of traffic officers drove through his hometown of Genadendal in the Overberg.
Africa unsuccessfully applied to become a traffic officer four times. After hitchhiking from Genadendal to Cape Town to appear at the Department of Transport in 1974, they decided to give him the chance to interview for the job, despite applications closing the day before.
Luck was on his side and he got the job. Africa initially struggled and tried to quit due to the challenges apartheid brought to his job, writes the George Herald. However, the Department refused his resignation, saying he had the makings to go far in the industry. Africa worked even harder, and soon became the first coloured traffic officer to receive a merit promotion award, and the first coloured officer to be promoted to a senior rank. He became chief director of provincial traffic in April 2010.
“In my 46-year-long career in traffic, I have participated in many workshops and delivered countless numbers of paper. I have communicated with Provincial leaders as well as dignitaries from other countries. I have represented our own political heads at different forums. I have chaired Provincial Road Traffic Committees, and I have given many, many reports at national level,” said Africa.
“I have spoken on radio countless times and have done online as well as on-site TV interviews off the cuff – some in studios and others at locations at times – not forgetting the live interviews where one has to literally think as you speak. But today, as I stand on the eve of concluding this chapter of my life, I am at a loss for words.”
“I have been thinking long and hard about this day, July 31, 2020, when my 46 years of uniformed life would come to an end and it was relatively easy to do all the farewell interviews that I was called to do over the last two to three weeks. I am truly very appreciative of all these opportunities which were afforded me and very humbled by all the good thoughts that was said about me in printed articles as well as on the air.
“However, now that I am sitting down, reflecting on my past career and wanting to respond to all that was said, I realise how difficult it is to single out any specific person as I am indebted to a great number of individuals for having supported me over this period of time. In one of the appreciation articles that was published recently, I commented to say that I have indeed started to write my biography and maybe I should dedicate the last chapter to the names of individuals that I so much wish to mention and in that way, ensure that you will at least read my book.”
Africa trusts that he has somehow positively contributed to the “never-ending fight against the high rate of crashed and fatalities” on the South African road network.
“I also trust that together we will continue, even though my official term has come to an end, stay confident that all the effort we have put in over the years, will bear fruit as road users change attitude and behaviour, which will result in safer roads in our Province,” he concluded.
“As a final remark, I would like to take my leave with the following quote of Nelson Mandela: ‘What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead’.”
Picture: Western Cape Government