South Africa went into a hard lockdown on 27 March 2020 in the hope of limiting the spread of Covid-19. As cases mounted, the lockdown was extended, then the country started slowly opening up. With the country currently at Level 2, these reflections are part of a weekly series that monitors life in lockdown in various neighbourhoods.
See Lockdown Reflections Day 161 here
Lockdown gives new meaning to birthday celebrations
Johannesburg, Gauteng: While we seem to have adapted to the new normal way of doing things and coexisting with the virus, this past weekend reminded me that Covid-19 has altered every aspect of our existence.
From the way we relate to each other as human beings to the way we perceive and understand the world around us, much has changed. My mom celebrated her 50th birthday this past weekend, and what was meant to be a monumental celebration with family and friends, turned into an intimate gathering with just six people.
Although my family and I had spent months, before Covid-19, planning with much excitement the kind of birthday party we would organise for her, we were happy with how the small celebration turned out. More than anything else, to witness the joy on mom’s face was a blessing.
For the extended family, friends, and dear neighbours we were unable to invite to the party, we delivered a slice of cake to each of them. In some way that replaced the void we felt in not being able to celebrate with those we love.
Mama’s birthday was the complete opposite of what I envisioned for so long, but it was a reminder that our human connection is so strong that we can always find happiness amid adversity and life’s disappointments. – Ayanda Mthethwa
Supporting each other is the way to disempower racism
Rondebosch, Cape Town: By now, most of us are (probably) on the same page regarding the Clicks advert debacle – it was clearly racist, but the EFF took things too far. I’ve heard some say that “violence begets violence” regarding the matter, in that the advert was an act of racial and systemic “violence” towards people of colour and so the EFF’s actions were justified. I agree with the other side of the debate that forcing shops to close down puts livelihoods at risk.
I’m cringing at the fact that I sound like a Karen right now but in such precarious economic times we can’t afford to jeopardise incomes by burning down stores. Covid-19 has wreaked enough havoc and I cannot agree with worsening anyone’s suffering, especially low-income communities. As a woman of colour, regular Clicks customer and member of the so-called “natural hair movement” I was shocked and felt deeply disrespected by a brand that claimed to understand and support my God-given hair. Yes, hair is political – insert apartheid-era pencil test – and this clearly gave the EFF a window to enter the conversation, but in my opinion, as a consumer I have the right and power to take action for myself. For example, the EFF is reportedly meeting with Unilever on Thursday to discuss the advert as if they were nominated as the official mouthpiece for black women’s grievances?
Many are taking alternative action. The ongoing boycott by the natural-hair community is an example. It may not birth immediate results, but it still sends a clear message while acknowledging the power we already wield as black consumers. Black-owned small businesses are emerging all over the show, catering for natural hair. Let’s switch and support them. It breaks my heart to say it, since it took so long to find the right products that worked for my hair, but it’s worth the effort. In my opinion, to disempower racism means supporting each other as people of colour. As much as there’s a movement to validate our kinks and curls, let’s also support the people who not only have and respect our hair, but know how best to care for it. – Sandisiwe Shoba
I’m trying to stay sane in the midst of all the chaos
Mowbray, Cape Town: This week I read a depressing article about how traumatised many South Africans are because of racial, gender and income inequality. If it isn’t gender-based violence, people are dealing with unemployment or not being able to properly mourn their lives because of the lockdown regulations.
It’s morbid to read and to think about how this is our reality and we can’t escape it. As much as we can’t, I’ve made the decision to block some of my phone apps in the evenings just so I can focus on other things.
While the numbers for gender-based violence during the hard lockdown went up, the numbers are still rising during level 2. Every day on the Instagram page Keep the energy, there’s a new name of a woman or child who has been killed. It’s bad enough having to deal with gender-based violence and a pandemic, so I need to manage how much time I spend reading about how many lives Covid-19 has taken from us while every day women are being killed.
It’s distressing information to consume on a regular basis. Although it is my job to know what’s happening, I realised it wasn’t healthy to consume all this information 24/7. – Karabo Mafolo
A new threat emerged this week – the EFF’s attack
Oranjezicht, Cape Town: The first bite of spring has come to Cape Town, following heavy rains. Times are changing, long sleeves are turning into short sleeves and pants are becoming shorter. Times are changing, but there is still the threat of Covid-19 on the horizon, even while our cases are dropping.
But another threat emerged this week. Following the Clicks debacle, EFF member of Parliament Mbuyiseni Ndlozi went on Twitter and attacked Thuli Madonsela for being in a relationship with a white man. Then he justified the harassment of Nobesuthu Hejana, a reporter at eNCA, by EFF supporters during a protest at a Clicks store.
In a country where so many women are harassed, assaulted and murdered, it is highly unethical to justify an attack on a woman. As a member of parliament, Ndlozi is bound by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to respect others. The South African National Editors Forum sent out a statement to say, “Ndlozi owes eNCA journalist, Nobesuthu Hejana and the women of South Africa an apology. SANEF is also calling on the Gender Commission and Parliament to investigate the matter”.
Ndlozi and the EFF constantly proclaim to advance the rights of women and most women in the EFF are actually standing up for women’s rights, whether its through fighting stigma around sex work or taking up the issues of forced sterillisation of HIV-positive women. The EFF and Ndlozi owe Nobesuthu Hejana an apology; they owe women in this country an apology. – Suné Payne DM