How difficult is this idea that all of us really need to Stay At Home?
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A lady with a shopping bag is seen by a neighbour who asks her how her shop went. “Oh no, this is just a decoy so I can walk my dog.”
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On the Twitterer a crossroads in a suburb is shown and then camera pans out and across to show four white families sitting with deck chairs on the grass on each corner having a braai.
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Last night there is people noise outside the back of our house. Stand on a chair to look across at the Cul De Sac opposite us and halfway down to the end of it there is a congregation of people, clearly not from the same house, drinking alcohol on the streets [illegal already] with little kids riding their little plastic bikes up and down the road, a dog being walked and much laughing and joking. Phoned the police twice, but they managed to disperse [at least 30 minutes later] before we saw any police action. Heard one of the men say, “See you tomorrow” as he left.
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Then spent way too much time arguing with a white guy [really? plot twist] on Facebook who kept trying to convince me that none of these things matter because of what is happening in the townships.
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Why can’t we go outside?
In case you’re confused – and i don’t believe you are – these are the only reasons that you are allowed outside, as in off your property.
There might have been some confusion early on when one of the ministers told people they could go outside to jog or walk their dogs. Apparently the responses on social media showed the government just how much people were planning to abuse this that they revoked it that same day. Now there is no jogging and no dog walking outside of your property and no leaving the house for any reasons besides the ones above.
We are facing an epidemic like the world has never seen before in our time and closing in on 40 thousand people have lost their lives worldwide over this. South Africa has seen 3 people that we know of lose their lives [yesterday morning it was 1] and if/when this things spreads into the townships and highly-congregated suburbs it could really get out of control. Nobody around the world knows particularly what to do and people are trying to figure it out as best they can as it continues to spread. Some countries are doing a lot better than others and we can really learn a lot from those worst hit. This letter to the UK from Italy telling them about their future could also have been written to us.
In a situation like this you want to be too strict, rather than too lenient. Give ourselves as much chance as we can of getting through this with as little death as possible.
But what’s the point cos the townships…
A lot of adjective people have been trying to use the life-as-normal pictures and video that they have seen of life in the townships to justify/defend the breaking of the lockdown that many more wealthier people seem to be taking part in.
Let’s break that down for a second.
# Firstly, and this is important to hear. You can be concerned [angry/disappointed/frustrated] with two things at the same time. If there are people in the townships who are living in such a way as to put more lives at risk, then that needs to be dealt with. But it should have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with whether it’s okay for other people to break the lockdown or not. Literally two wrongs do not make a right.
# Secondly, every time someone steps out of contact with people [self-isolation, quarantine, lockdown] they reduce the risk of corona virus being passed on. EVERY SINGLE TIME. You hang out with your friends in the street having a beer and one of those friends is on shopping duty and passes it on to the cashier who is risking their life so that you can eat and flush. They pass it on to their community where there may not be the same opportunities for isolation and distancing and boom, it blows up!
# Thirdly, the opposite of that is also true. Every time someone steps into contact with more people, they increase the risks. It’s that simple. We have heard that it gets pass on via surfaces. We have heard that it gets passed on through the air [droplets]. We have also heard that is can stick around for long periods of time on certain surfaces.
# Fourthly, when it comes to the townships it seems like the information we have been getting is half-true. People love to spring videos from five years ago into current tragedies to promote certain messages and build certain stereotypes. We have to be so careful what narratives we believe [and constantly be asking ourselves why we believe them]. Some of the pictures/video you have seen is true of what is happening in some of the township spaces. Some of it is not. i have heard both accounts from different people in the townships and my best advice for you on this one is to chat to someone you know who lives in a township and ask how they are experiencing the lockdown. If you don’t personally know someone who lives in a township then that might be another conversation worth having sometime…
My point in all this, is that every time we choose to break the lockdown rules we put people at risk – it could be as much as the police who are called out to come deal with the idiots across the road from us are not available when there is a bigger issue somewhere else needing their attention or just that we are unnecessarily making them tired and irritated when they have such an important job to do. It could be the actual spread of the virus that four days in we didn’t know we had, or the catching of it to spread to someone else later. It could be the permission me having a braai on my street corner [technically on my property is i’m sure the reasoning they are using] gives to a thousand other people who watch the video on social media – oh well, if they can braai then I can sneak out for a jog, I can walk my dog, I can make a plan to meet my girlfriend by shopping at the same place at the same time… and so on.
It is selfish. It is stupid. It is dangerous. And it is completely unloving.
As the president reminded us in his speech last night:
” Let us not make the mistake of thinking that this is someone else’s problem. Every time you violate the regulations the government has issued, you are putting others at risk”
-President Cyril Ramaphosa-
My # Fifthly point would be that i doubt anyone who is doing any of those things will see this blog post. It is going to be read by those who agree with me and know this is a problem and are probably as angry and frustrated as me [as well as a few of you who just want to jump on and pick a fight because this talk makes you defensive somehow, quite possibly because you are white and #NotAllWhites]. So the point of this blog post is to encourage all of us to take this seriously and to call out those people when they are our friends and family and neighbours. Don’t let people you know get away with this crap! Call them out and phone it in:
It is up to all of us.
It might sound cheesy, it might feel cliché, but it has to become true, that “There is no I in pandemic!” Which doesn’t quite work as well as “team” where there actually is no letter “I” but maybe the irony is what can help us take it seriously here.
We are not staying at home so that we will not get sick and die. [We kinda are, but we are also mostly not] – we are staying at home so that the numbers of deaths that are going to be counted at the end of the day in South Africa remains the smallest number possible.
Every single time we add in an interaction with someone we haven’t previously spent time with, we up the chances of the virus spreading. Every time we sit quietly while our neighbour blatantly breaks the rules and goes out, we are complicit in upping the chances of the virus spreading. We are the ones who need to help police those who are not quite getting the magnitude of this yet.
Every death is a tragedy
This is not the place to talk about the fact that at least one person, and maybe more, has died as a result of the police/army trying to get people indoors during lockdown. But i do want to acknowledge it here because it is a tragedy and it is not okay. They will be held accountable and hopefully those who enforce the law will get better and find safer ways of doing so.
This is not the conversation about what is going on in the townships because the contexts are so different. It is largely impossible to self-isolate or physical-distance in the townships [which should make those of us complaining within our many-bedroomed spaces and big gardens really start to think a little deeper]. Even access to clean water for so many people in our country is a struggle and so the notion of 20 second hand washes as often as possible is not even possible for so many. There are people who are busy investigating how best to handle a lockdown when it comes to informal settlements and hopefully they will come up with some creative solutions quickly. Because that is where the real threat to human life lurks.
But this post is about the ones with the money and the means and the spaces who still insist on selfishly doing their own thing. That needs to stop. And it needs to stop quickly. This thing is bigger than you!
And if you are bored, i have written tons of things for you to busy yourselves and your children with, over here and here and here and here. Plus there are a hundred free courses or learn-a-skill videos or exercise options out there and more. There is no excuse for us. We have to be and do better!