Taahir Osman, is the founder and leader of the Tack Back Our Mountains Movement or #TBOM. The #TBOM movement is a response to the escalating spate of attacks on hikers, runners and cyclists on the Cape mountains. The #TBOM movement act as a network for hikers, hiking clubs, fitness clubs, cyclists, runners and tourists both local and international; all with the same vision of safe Parks while appreciating and enjoying the spectacular natural beauty the Cape has to offer.
The Facebook blog “Take Back Our Mountains”, serves as a public platform to promote the #TBOM activities and advertise upcoming hikes. He actively collaborates with the authorities, SANParks and the Table Mountain National Park in the quest for safe and secure hiking.
The #TBOM recognises the important and active role of communities and civil society movements like themselves in contributing to combating crime.The partnership with the SANParks had strengthened over time and today the #TBOM considers itself a key stakeholder of this government entity.Buying into the SANParks mandate of preserving and restoring mountain biodiversity for long term and sustainable use of mountain natural resources, collaborative hikes at times involve environmental clean ups.Under the banner of #TBOM, Taahir successfully brings together people from all walks of life, young and old, local and global. Raised in the Southern Suburbs area of the Cape, the harsh economic inequalities, unemployment, high crime rate and other social –ills prevalent in Cape communities are nothing new to Taahir.
He is a local entrepreneur, who owns a building and renovating company and is a quantity surveyor by trade. An avid hiker since the age of 12, he developed a particular love for the Kalkbay mountains.
He spends at least three to four days of the week walking the mountains, with his favourite time for this natural absorption being sunset. For him, that gruesome day in January 2018, was the highpoint of the many violent attacks on the mountains. Taahir was part of a rescue team, called to the scene where nine hikers were brutally stabbed.Among the injured, were close friends, with whom he often hiked. He decided then that the current state of safety and security on the mountains cannot go unchallenged. He refused that crime deprive the rights, freedom and dignity of all nature loving people and limited their movement as a result of fear.
It is then that the idea of the #TBOM movement was borne. Taahir, cognisant of the history, socio economic realities of our society and the deep rootedness of crime knows that active policing alone is not the solution to these violent threats. His love for the mountains, which he shares with many others, overpowered his sense of helplessness. His only power was that of an organised and mobilised people who shared his love for nature and his vision. What started out as mere patrol missions with friends to the areas identified as dangerous, transformed overnight, with the help of social media, in a large movement with huge amount of interest by the public.
Taahir advocates that hiking in large groups, unite people with similar interests while enjoying the natural environment and feeling safe. He always makes a special effort of notifying and inviting all hiking clubs and organisations to partake in the #TBOM hikes. Often these invitations are not taken up for various reasons. He does not necessarily see it as a set-back, though he realises more work needs to be done in assuring clubs about the common interests we all have about the love for the mountains and safety.He treasures the great relationships and partnerships forged and strengthened with likeminded individuals and groups since the inception of the #TBOM movement.
Taahir believes in giving back to the community. The #TBOM mandate have been extended to include social responsibility ventures and community outreach programmes by attracting youth from mountain surrounding, disadvantaged communities and exposing them to hiking.He is pleased that the #TBOM movement managed to continually grow and sustain itself. To date this large initiative successfully facilitates monthly hikes with no less than 80 members at any given hike.Taahir does not see his work as complete. He would be happier if more clubs put their differences aside, find the common denominator, SAFETY ON THE MOUNTAINS and join in on the TBOM activities