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Blessed peace under lockdown


Somehow, despite myself, I’m almost starting to get used to life under the state of national disaster.

It’s probably a good thing, given President Cyril Ramaphosa’s de facto indefinite extension of the lockdown, which seems set to continue, in one form or another, until well beyond the end of the initial three-month period gazetted in March.

The head of state’s announcement that we should move to Level 4 of lockdown from May 1 — the spread of the Covid-19 virus permitting — was tempered with the news that the lockdown itself is far from over.

This doesn’t mean that I’m enjoying being locked down: my movements restricted; my freedom to buy a beer withheld for the foreseeable future; every trip outside the perimeter fence a nerve wracking, potentially fatal mission.

It’s awful, but like most people, I’m adapting to living in a fraction of the world I occupied. Unlike most, I’m well fed and am still getting a salary, for the moment, so it’s been way easier to deal with my new life.

I’ve started taking smaller steps, even when I go outside, cutting my stride and walking slower, fighting the urge to scurry to the shops and back as quickly as possible. It must look weird, like there’s invisible ankle irons restricting my steps.

Wearing a mask outside has become second nature. Not touching my face no longer requires effort. My proficiency in video conferencing has improved, as has my general attitude towards technology. I’ve also mastered shaving my head once a week with a razor. There were a few gashes in the beginning, but not any longer

It is what it is.

The physical distancing thing is tough, but way better than getting the virus.

Some of us are better at it that others, I guess.

Deputy President David Mabuza appears to have taken to it more easily — and more seriously — than most.

Perhaps those skills honed over the decades of lurking with intent in Mpumalanga have paid off for Comrade Rizla, as he is known. Mabuza has been invisible since the state of disaster was declared, leading by example.

Perhaps he has made use of the time away from the spotlight to do his thing at home.


The alleged sports and arts and culture minister, Nathi Mthethwa — along with his celebrity media contingent — has been pretty invisible as well. In Mthethwa’s case a bit of visibility — and some money for South Africa’s artists and sports people, beyond the usual beneficiaries — would be in order. He has provided little leadership during the crisis, choosing to mumble a few platitudes and abandon the arts and sporting community to their fate.

I’ve taken a bit of a sabbatical from social media, despite the lack of alternative pursuits.

It was taking up too much time and was starting to get to me.

There are too many stay-at-home epidemiologists out there for me; too many conspiracy theorists with an oversupply of data and too much time on their hands; too many anti-vaxxing Klu Klux Karens spouting some poorly disguised racist drivel about how this is all “just a bad flu” being manipulated by Ramaphosa to enslave abelungu and deprive them of their rights and their hard-earned white privilege.

Truth be spoke, the Radical Economic Transformation crew out there in the virtual streets were also getting a tad irritating; too many Ramaphosa/Bill Gates/Stellenbosch/Illuminati conspiracy ramblings; too much underlying resentment that their candidate lost the ANC presidential elections in December 2017, that they’re not going to be able to get in on the act when it comes to personal protection equipment tenders.

Factor in the constant inboxing from “Forex Traders”; the invitations to join Followers of Guru Swamigal and the wave of invitations to like the wave of Facebook pages belonging to random ANC provincial MECs and it’s time for a break.

Earlier on in the lockdown, I’d spent a fair bit of time reporting their online drivel to the social media powers that be. It was fun for a while, and I definitely got a couple of results, as evidenced by the disappearances of two of the self-proclaimed men of God who I burned over their nutcase Covid-19 conspiracy theories from the streets of Facebook for a week or so.

I also turned informer on the Bible Thumper who lives across the road for holding illegal church services in his garage after the lockdown was declared. Both times, he’d finished and his congregation had headed off by the time the Babylon arrived.

After the second visit, our holy roller appeared to have received the memorandum.

There have been no Friday night congregations since; no howls of hallelujah, no more “praise the lords” hammering out of the brotherman’s five million amp speakers since the men and women in blue came calling. There’s still some din from what sounds like a Zoom sermon every week, but it’s way more peaceful than before the state of disaster was declared.

Like I said, I’m getting used to life under lockdown.

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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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