South Africa has always been the ugly step sister to the world. It’s a place that is seen by the world as a jungle where nothing much happens. If recent social media comments are anything to go by, I can fully understand the perception…
Right in the beginning, I started a Facebook Group to help keep my community informed. My amazing, supportive Moderators and I were quickly branded fear-mongers. In this post, I’d like to propose that perhaps those who are calling for the economy and schools to re-open are the actual fear-mongers…
About the COVID-19 crisis in South Africa
South Africa went into lockdown soon after the first individual tested positive for Covid-19. It has been called one of the most severe lockdowns in the world, and yet the infection rate continues to spike, public schools are shut down again after opening for a short while, and people are starting to lose their minds. We’re living in unprecedented times – at least based on our short lives so far… Similar events rocked the world in the past:
The Black Death
The plague killed an estimated 25 million people, almost a third of the continent’s population. The Black Death lingered on for centuries, particularly in cities. Outbreaks included the Great Plague of London (1665-66), in which 70,000 residents died.National Geographic
“The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most severe pandemic in recent history. It was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin. Although there is not universal consensus regarding where the virus originated, it spread worldwide during 1918-1919. In the United States, it was first identified in military personnel in spring 1918. It is estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States.”CDC
2009 H1N1 Pandemic
Additionally, CDC estimated that 151,700-575,400 people worldwide died from (H1N1)pdm09 virus infection during the first year the virus circulated.** Globally, 80 percent of (H1N1)pdm09 virus-related deaths were estimated to have occurred in people younger than 65 years of age. This differs greatly from typical seasonal influenza epidemics, during which about 70 percent to 90 percent of deaths are estimated to occur in people 65 years and older.CDC
But this Covid-19 pandemic has the potential to wipe out many more people, because the world is much more populated than ever, and the advancements in travel, and the way we live and interact with one another makes us all more prone to contagion.
Many statistics have done the rounds about estimated Coronavirus outbreaks and the “small” number of people who would die as a result of it. Additionally, many have drawn comparisons to the deaths from other diseases, such as TB, diabetes, and heart disease. Interestingly, people with underlying conditions and poor immune response are much more prone to die of complications if they were to contract Covid-19, or the novel coronavirus.
That should be a major concern for anyone who lives (or loves anyone who lives) in South Africa, where a large percentage of the population suffers from TB, or is HIV positive – two leading diseases in the country that wipe out a person’s immune system. Incidentally, many of the people who have those diseases, don’t have the money or access to government healthcare to get treatment, and even if they could, they don’t have the money they need to feed their bodies adequately to build any immunity…
So, you don’t know anyone who’s actually had Covid-19?
Well, people I am very close with have had family members or loved ones who are or have been in hospital, on ventilators, and in comas, fighting the disease. I’ll provide some relevant examples, if readers insist on quantifying the suffering to such an extent…
Amy Wright wrote a post on Facebook, which was later wrongly attributed to Dr. Anthony Fauci, American physician and immunologist who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. I highly recommend that you go read her post if you feel the loss of life is not a great enough risk to practice social distancing. In this, she explains the effects of the virus on people with a variety of conditions.
It’s not as simple as survival or death.
Covid-19: A conspiracy theory?
I’ve seen Americans claim that the worldwide pandemic is a plot by the Russians, Trump and the Illuminati. I’ve been unfriended, because I dared to question the “reliable intel” that it was invented (and untrue) to cover up the PizzaGate human trafficking and sex slavery of every celebrity.
I’ve seen South Africans say (on the same groups where they ask where to find contraband – whisky at R800 for a cheap brand, or R160 for cheap cigarettes) that Ramaphosa is a pawn of the Zumas, who want to keep the country down and make white people starve to death. Really, people? We’re talking about rocket scientists here, right? Remember these comments?
Here are some facts for you to consider:
- In case it wasn’t clear enough from the two paragraphs above: if you believe that our world is united enough to work together to fool 7,800,000,000 (that’s seventy-uh-hundredty-thousandty-million-uh-billionty in Zuma) – nearly EIGHT BILLION – to think there’s a pandemic to such an extent that the people are actually getting sick and dying from the placebo effect, you have a much better world view than I do.
- Ramaphosa – flaws and all – is a businessman, first and foremost. He also happens to be one of the richest in SA. With stakes in mines, oil companies and previously, McDonald’s (to name very, very few) he WANTS the economy to be wide open. Those who passed Business Economics in Standard 6 will agree that a shareholder only makes money when a company is profitable.
- Yes, it is a case of the tail wagging the dog. The government’s number one priority is to KEEP PEOPLE HOME to prevent the spread of the virus. They are using findings from international people and organisations to make the decisions. But, if they don’t allow taxis to operate, there will be mayhem on the streets. Taxis will go on strike and essential workers won’t be able to get to work to SAVE LIVES. There will be untold violence.
- We’re complaining about the increase in domestic violence. Strangely, we believe that that is happening, but none of us who cite those figures have actually seen evidence to that effect (unless it’s in our own homes). That in itself is flawed, as most people who are struggling with domestic violence are not allowed on social media by their abusive spouses / partners.
- A real issue nobody except my husband has mentioned the fact that bookstores are open, but libraries are closed. We’ve never once been to the library when there were more than three people. It’s
an introvert’s dreamsocial distancing at its best! It’s a way to keep people occupied and help them to educate themselves during this time.
- The booze ban affects me personally. I like my wine! But it also affects me on a business level, as I came up with an idea that requires legal booze… But I digress. Booze is a SOCIAL SUBSTANCE. When we drink, we lose our inhibitions and we want to socialise. When we socialise (during a pandemic) we spread the cooties! Think clearly now, people! You’re re-affirming Bheki Cele’s position that alcohol should be banned permanently… I’d give up my three glasses of wine to know that my family is safe from drunk drivers forever. (Please don’t quote me on that!!!) 😉
- Another reason for the booze and tobacco ban, is that we’re dealing with millions of low-income earners in South Africa. Just sit on a bench outside the bottle store on social grants day and you’ll see for yourself. It’s a sad day when the government has to help people manage their budgets, but WE HAVE CAUSED THAT OURSELVES. When I say “we” I’m referring to society. I’m referring to people who can’t think of consequences of their actions.
- Those who are supporting the “one million seats in the streets” initiative clearly lack common sense and went in complete disregard for the wellbeing of their patrons. By opening the doors to your restaurant now, you’re actually endangering the lives of your clients. When they die, who will support your establishment?
I’m thinking of writing an economy textbook titled: Economy 101 – Don’t kill your clientele but it will be redundant in intelligent readers…
Those are probably the same people who will put on every appliance in their homes during times of loadshedding. Or those who water their entire garden twice daily during a drought.
One wonders why people deliberately flout the rules of the lockdown, and it comes down to one simple fact:
They have an EXTERNAL locus of control
In short, they blame the government and other external factors for their choices, poor decisions, failure, or lack of success. I’m not being judgmental here, believe me. When I was homeless with a husband and two kids before 2010, people also blamed our poor decision-making ability for our situation. It infuriated me. But ultimately, on the face of it, we weren’t a demographic that were accepted in either previously (or currently) disadvantaged or in currently ‘privileged’ society. We were outcasts…
Until the day I packed up my husband and kids and told them that we were going to live a better life. We moved to the coast with two desks and computers and a couple of beds that were in storage before. Our only source of income was highly subjective, extremely unreliable, and hysterically volatile. If it came through, it was not even enough to pay the rent – let alone buy food. It came with a tangle of strings attached. But hey, we were no longer homeless. And we were able to do our own thing.
Our own thing turns out to be a daily thirty minute walk on the beach in between working a full day each for the (unreliable) income, and then working a part time business until three a.m. This part time business is what I built into the main site to this blog. This part time business is now our family’s main source of income. And thank God, it is so far unaffected by the pandemic. It’s another prayer answered, as during that 9-hour bus-ride from Joburg to our new home, I asked God to help us be in a position that we never again have to look people in the eye.
So, if you think I’m judgmental or that I can’t understand the plight of poverty, you’re wrong. I’ve literally been there, done that, and wrote the book (which is currently undergoing another round of editing – shut it!). In there, you’ll read about the times when:
- I made homemade spaghetti using flour and an egg and flavoured it with garlic and Ola margarine for my family;
- I sewed a sanitary towel out of an old dishcloth so I could buy my family bread;
- And the time when we had absolutely no food, but two different people showed up with ingredients that turned into the most scrumptious Italian feast.
I have SO MUCH empathy for those suffering due to the economic shut down. It’s extremely tough. And it is sad that the poorest of the poor will probably perish. Again, having been there, I can tell you this: when you’re in a situation where you don’t know where your kids will get their next meal, you’d much rather take the sweet salvation of death than wake up to face another hopeless day.
My frustration goes out to the low- to mid-income earners; those who are in a situation to do something for themselves, but choose not to. They’ve prayed for an opportunity to do something to earn more income, and they now have the time, but they’re sitting at home looking to score some contraband cigarettes or booze instead of finding ways to earn money.
Don’t tell me that you can’t make money during a pandemic. My business has been ticking over (yes, I have been working all along instead of Netflix and chilling), but more importantly, I’m not the only person who has succeeded. People around the world have been achieving success by grabbing opportunities.
You might say some of them have had money to start with – fine. But you don’t need money to do it. I had no food and no place to stay when I started my business in December 2009.
There are many opportunities out there, and you will see them when you open your eyes to them. Nobody can force you to see what’s right in front of you if you insist on being given handouts and on doing things the way you have done it until now.
So many local businesses are thriving because they chose to do things differently. They found creative ways to still serve their clientele without breaking the lockdown rules.
The government made many promises about the money they’ve secured at the start of lockdown. If you didn’t think the corrupt officials would get their sticky paws onto it, you were sadly mistaken. My daughter (18) has still not been paid her UIF money, but instead of sitting around crying about the unfairness of life, she has started her own online business using just her smartphone with help from her dad.
We’re living in unprecedented (modern) times. Life as we knew it before will never be again. Forget about assigning blame, and making excuses for your behaviours.
You have to step up, or step out of the game. Putting all your eggs in the government’s basket is a very very very very big mistake (we’ve mentioned a few rotten eggs earlier!).
Earlier, I said that those people who are calling for the economy and schools to re-open are the actual fear-mongers with all the talk about how the economy will suffer due to the lasting effects of the lockdown. They would rather lose many thousands of lives (of potential clients!) in the long term, than thinking about new and innovative ways to do business. They fear a change from the way things have been for them forever, even if it means that families should lose their breadwinners and other loved ones, who might still have a few years in them.
Perhaps, I’m just a sucker for seeing the good in life. Perhaps, I’m not as risk-averse as some. Or perhaps my priorities are just different. Either way, I appreciate you reading my thoughts and welcome your comments below.