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February 1, 2021

Karachi’s young residents transform surroundings of Mazar-e-Quaid

Karachi

February 1, 2021

The next time you drive past the mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, you are least likely to find chalking and political graffiti defiling the walls and footpaths that skirt the landmark, because a group of Karachi’s young residents charged with the passion to transform the city’s landscape cleaned them on Sunday.

Around two and a half months ago, 21-year-old DHA resident Zohaib Ahmed Khan decided to work for the beautification of the city and formed a group called ‘Rang De Karachi’. “We want to clean the roads of Karachi, install street lights and uplift the footpaths,” he said.

Khan said that they have cleaned the walls and footpaths from Peoples Chowrangi to Numaish and Shahrah-e-Quaideen, while the remaining will be cleaned in the days ahead. “We will then draw portraits of the Quaid-e-Azam on big walls,” he said, adding that their mission is to bring colour to the streets of Karachi with free art.

He invited people from all walks of life to team up with them to help clean the city. Khan, who calls himself a social worker, is a businessman by profession. Young men and women from different universities joined him through social media.

Initially, he had approached a few street artists through Facebook and shared his plan with them, and now he has 1,000 plus members belonging to all age groups. ‘Rang De Karachi’ started their work in Clifton’s Boat Basin area, where they not only cleaned the walls and footpaths but also transformed them with works of art. Then they moved on to Nazimabad, Gulberg and the Garden locality.

Khan said that they mainly paint walls and footpaths, but for cleaning up and the installation of street lights they engage different government departments with them. Regarding funds, he said that different multinational companies sponsor them as part of their corporate social responsibility initiatives. “As for the extra funding, I bear it myself.”

He said that they have taken the city commissioner, the deputy commissioners of different districts and Sindh’s local government minister on board regarding their beautification work. “We don’t have any problem from the authorities. Even the traffic police facilitate us during our work.”

When asked how he came up with the group’s name, Khan laughed and said that people usually think that there was an intense thought process behind it, “but it just struck my mind and I kept it”.

It has been five years since he moved to Karachi from Peshawar. “Our motive is to eliminate the issues of the city, not raise them.” He said that he is against racism in the city. He pointed out that they had painted Karachi’s well-known Teen Talwar area on the traditional Sindhi theme on Sindh Culture Day.

As for the other members of Khan’s group, North Karachi resident Abdullah is an event manager by profession but has also become a street artist now. Daily after work, he joins the team of ‘Rang De Karachi’ to beautify the city’s streets.

“Scrolling through Facebook, I came across the post of ‘Rang De Karachi’. I liked their work, filled out their membership form, and after a week I became their member,” he said, adding that he initially joined them as a volunteer, but gradually started painting the city’s streets and became a street artist. He said that whatever the theme is, he can paint it now. “As my first activity, I sketched and painted angel wings on one of the walls of the city,” he said, adding that in their last activity, their theme was Covid-19 awareness.

Another member, 20-year-old Clifton resident Eesha Sufyan, said that she was passing through the Boat Basin area one day when she saw the team of ‘Rang De Karachi’ at work. Later, she not only joined them but also became one of their main streets artists.