‘Batman’ shakes up the city

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"It seems like people have given up," Michael Wynne told Grocott's Mail, briefly looking up from the task of removing a poster from an electricity meter box last Saturday.

"It seems like people have given up," Michael Wynne told Grocott's Mail, briefly looking up from the task of removing a poster from an electricity meter box last Saturday.

Wynne, who has built a strong following but also attracted some critics, entered Grahamstown's social media circles around six months before moving to the town.

He has commented on, and asked questions about, topics ranging from livestock on the streets (he recently posted a video of himself herding cows down the road), litter and illegal dumping, to who is the best and hottest doctor in town.

And his frank assessments of the people in Grahamstown he's met since moving here late last year have variously amused or annoyed the town's residents – many interacting with him on the Grahamstown Facebook page.

On his own Facebook page (which is public), he posted on New Year's Day: "What I have learned about Graham's town so far… don't EVER mention the cow problem as it could get you publicly flogged.

"Showing too much interest in the city makes people suspicious. Its OK to be weird as long as you're pre-approved by the town council.

"Its OK to gossip. Apparently its a local [pastime]and quite competitive. The water will give you the s…ts for a week and the mosquitoes, though slow and easy to kill, leave nasty welts where they double bite you as punishment for being alive.

"Men who drive bakkies never greet you and the old tannies drive like bats out of hell. Everyone here is studying something. People are either really friendly or really mean… Are these complaints? NO.

"This is a list of things that I am grateful for. So far, no rapes, no murders, no one has tried to rob me. No gun shots. No drug dealers. No sirens. No high speed car chases… We've only been here for 2 weeks and the students aren't even here yet. I love this place."

A video posted on the Grocott's Mail Facebook page of Wynne removing illegal posters from electricity meter boxes in African Street on Saturday, and explaining why – 'There's man in African Street Grahamstown in a Batman T-shirt with a bucket and a plastic egg-lift. Here's why.' – had by midweek reached nearly 30 000 Facebook users, with 12 000 views, 154 shares and hundreds of comments.

In a post on the Grahamstown Facebook page on Friday 13 January reflecting again on the mixed reception he'd received from Facebook users among the town's residents, he had concluded, "You guys are amazing" and continued:

"Today’s question: The streets are covered in small posters offering safe abortions and manWood enlargement. Yes, I know there are kids on this page but these posters are everywhere and kids will have asked their questions by now so I don’t think asking about them here should be an issue.

"If it is an issue please let me know and I will edit. It is my opinion that they make the city look dirty and I am blown away that they have not been removed yet.

"1, Are they legal? (Is it legal to stick them where ever you like?). 2, Am I allowed to remove them? 3, What is the most cost effective way to remove them without damaging the surfaces that they’re stuck on?"

He received scores of responses, most positive, but including criticism from a Rhodes University academic and gender activist for addressing the symptom rather than the causes of unsafe abortions.

However, true to his word, he was out on the streets on both Saturday and Sunday, tackling the poster plague, with the help of an eco-friendly cleaner provided by Grahamstown resident John Davies, and with some help from a few supportive volunteers.

"I love this town," Wynne told Grocott's Mail on Saturday, "and I know there's a lot wrong that needs fixing.
"But it seems like people have just given up trying to do anything about it."

With a hands-on attitude and a sometimes hands-on Facebook following, Wynne says he's determined to act on the problems he sees around him.

"If everyone just gave five minutes of their day to sorting out something small in their immediate environment, we could achieve a lot," he said.

An avid Batman fan, Wynne often sports a Batman T-shirt and many of his fans and followers refer to him as Batman.

To watch the video go to https://www.facebook.com/grocotts/videos/10154164706995911/

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