Category: Proudly South African

Pray for South Africa

You may have seen some reports of South Africa in the news this week. In case you’re not sure what’s actually going on, here’s the short version:

Last week, our former president, Jacob Zuma, went to prison for contempt of court (I’m not going to get into the details of why, as I try to keep politics off my blog). His supporters took to the streets to protest, the protests turned violent, and on Monday devolved into large-scale looting and riots in several parts of the country. Including Kwazulu-Natal, where I live.

Across the province armed mobs descended on businesses, factories and warehouses, taking everything they could carry, vandalising and burning everything they couldn’t. They blocked off national roads, access to cities and towns, and torched trucks.

Miraculously in my town not a single business was looted – early on Monday already our police service, security companies, and private citizens co-ordinated by our community policing forums, blocked off access routes to town and somehow managed to keep the looters at bay, and to drive those who did come through (passing less than 2 km from my house) back. But one person (that I know of), a high school senior who was part of a group of protesters who got into a confrontation with the police, was killed.

In our sister-town across the highway, the entire business district was looted, with some businesses completely destroyed, and several sugar cane farms were torched.

I’ve had people reach out to check if we’re okay. First, thank you to all who did. You have no idea how much that means.

We’re not okay, but we’re safe. We’re safe, but we’re stressed out and tired, tired from sitting up at night praying while others patrol the streets, tired from hiding our fear and stress from Elizabeth, so she can enjoy the innocence and ignorance of childhood for a while longer. And yes, we’re afraid that things will start escalating again, though we bury that fear very deep down lest we fall into despair.

And while I have faith that this too shall pass, I can’t help but worry about what still lies ahead.

With the entire goods distribution chain disrupted, with stores and warehouses destroyed, and the roads not yet safe for delivery trucks to bring in new stock, there’s a real danger of food running out. Petrol pumps are already running dry. In a stroke of luck we bought some groceries over the weekend, so we won’t go hungry, but from tomorrow I’m taking my coffee black, and there won’t be a birthday cake for Elizabeth when she turns five on Monday. Many people are not as lucky as we are.

But I’m even more concerned about the other, long-term effects. As much as our community rallied together across different races to protect our town and to start cleaning up in the aftermath, these events have defined a new Us and a new Them. Seeing my neighbour walk down the street with a firearm strapped to his hip, talking about shooting first, and hearing people refer to the looters simply as “the enemy”, fills me with dread at where we’re heading. Rebuilding the businesses (those that can be rebuilt – for many who were already struggling due to Covid, this was likely the final nail in the coffin) will take months. Rebuilding the new rifts this has created in our community will take years.

As we ride out the storm, if you believe in prayer I ask you to please pray. Pray for peace to be restored, and for shelves to remain stocked so people can have enough to eat. Pray for hope, faith and compassion to prevail over fear, anger and hate. Pray for the people defending our towns, police, army and civilians alike. Pray for their safety, but also that they won’t need to reach for a weapon and take something that can’t be given back. Pray for the people doing the looting, most of whom are simply desperate, angry and frustrated after years of poverty and broken promises, making them easy to manipulate for those with political agendas.

Above all, pray for healing of the divisions in our country. While there has been many setbacks and failures along the way, South Africa has come a long way since our first democratic elections in 1994, and we’re running the risk of going back to square one. Pray that we’ll have the courage to finally address the rift between rich and poor, in concrete, sustainable ways instead of just talking about it. Pray that our leaders will finally put politics and personal gain aside and do what’s best for the people they were elected to serve.

Pray that we come out of this stronger, not more divided.

The Wild Hunt

Today’s Elwica’s birthday (I won’t reveal her age, as that will also be revealing my age), so as a birthday treat we again headed for the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park for a day of nature.

We timed our arrival perfectly, right as the gates opened, and were the first car to enter the park that day. This time around we headed for the iMfolozi side of the park and were greeted by a red African sunrise over valleys covered in fog…

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and everyone had to stay home

and everyone had to stay home

Since my last post, only a week and a half ago, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa has increased more than ten-fold (currently 709 according to the official government website). So on Monday evening our president once again addressed the nation to announce the next step: lockdown. As of midnight tonight, for the next three weeks, all South Africans except those providing essential services will be confined to their homes. We can leave to go to the doctor or to buy essential foodstuffs and medicine only.

It’s scary. Neither the missus nor I have been sleeping well, and since yesterday I’ve been walking around with a spasm in my neck muscles so severe that I can’t turn my head or raise my right hand above shoulder height. (And I thought my stress levels hit the ceiling when I found out on Saturday that the beach had been closed…).

But I also know it’s the right thing to do, and I’m glad the powers that be are doing this sooner rather than later.

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On Safari

Last weekend we went on safari. The oldest proclaimed game reserve in Africa, the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, is only about an hour’s drive away from us. We’ve been living here two years, and have never been there. So when my mom came to visit for the minion’s birthday, we decided the time was ripe to give it a visit.

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Standing for something

It’s election year in South Africa. This fact was suddenly brought home to me on Sunday when, turning out of our street, we were confronted with election posters on every lamppost on the way to church. Only one party’s, by the way – looks like they decided to get an early start.

Election posters are only that big, so parties usually come up with a slogan that’s short enough to fit in while big enough that motorists can read them without squinting so desperately at the poster that they actually run into the lamppost supporting it. In an ideal world, that slogan will also tell people what your party stands for.

This party must have one hell of a copywriter, or they don’t stand for much, as they managed to keep their slogan to only two words:

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