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Pondering the Post-Covid-19 world

17 May 2020 at 09:21hrs | Views
Ndamase is a serious type. Very serious that he sees a fault in every joke. He regularly feels that whenever people joke and laugh they waste too much time not thinking about their inevitable death one day soon.

The personal philosophy he seems to live by is that when people laugh they open their mouths out wide, close their eyes and their minds; and in that one moment the real world passes by unnoticed, leaving a lot of dark consequences for the laughing-blind. Siya Ndamase is one of those few but very scary people that calmly but sternly ask jokers to explain their jokes with clearly labelled diagrams; killing all the art in good jokes. Every time a joke has to be explained, jokers know this, an angel dies in Heaven.

I blame Siya's end of the world thinking and apocalyptic reasoning on his military training as an Umkhonto WeSizwe exile in Tanzania. He was a tiny tot and much soft-brained when the military mindset was stamped onto his head in the late 1970s. Since then, Siya seems to have failed to recover his sense of good humour and retains a guerilla suspicion over everything under the sun. He suspects a deadly enemy behind every beautiful thing around.

On a good day when a waiter or waitress, at our joint in Eastwoods Tavern in Hatfield, shows some politeness or friendliness Siya stops dead. He calmly addresses comrade-imbibers on the table to watch carefully that the figures on the night's bill do not come doubled or tripled through some malicious and criminal forgery. Behind every random act of politeness and friendliness Siya sees witchcraft itself lurking and waiting to harm the unsuspecting.

When news of a marauding virus in shape of the coronavirus set in earnestly in Pretoria his first conjecture was that the long awaited biological World War had finally begun. Throughout this long lockdown in South Africa I have tried and failed to ignore messages from Siya projecting where things are going and what the post-Covid-19 world will look like. This has been out of my natural fear of the dark and the unknown that is Siya's stock in trade when it comes to guessing the future. For Siya things might not go wrong, they will definitely go wrong if they have not gone wrong already.

The tragic and the very true
There is no avoiding tragic news from Siya, it seems. Even the World Health Organisation (WHO) appears and sounds like it relies on Siya for its projections. Michael Ryan, the Director of Emergencies at the WHO, has announced that at the very best coronavirus will graduate from a pandemic to an endemic. This in other words is an exhortation to the world to learn to live with the virus as a permanent companion, even if it is a monster that will keep harvesting lives, causing losses and miseries.

This projection from the world's trusted health body can only be distressing to all the living and lovers of life and happiness. Much alarming in South Africa is the sheer threat to Kasi life. What with the Gauteng government dropping the bomb that as earlier feared the townships and informal settlements are now taking their much dreaded place as "hotspots" and "epicentres" of the virus. It has always been a worldwide fear that coronavirus will reach its zenith and be at its deadliest when it sets in into the crowded peri-urban, informal and poor settlements of the world.

Crowding, whether in shebeens, parties, funerals and weddings is the very identity of life in South African locations. At eKasi South Africans seem to wake up every morning to look for the smallest excuse to gather. To different extents this might be true of all the populations in African townships and locations. We have carried our pre-colonial communalism unedited to present modernity. For that reason, coronavirus threatens the world and life itself as we have known it. Anything that threatens to permanently put a stop to conviviality and crowding looks like a true end of the world.

South African Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has not made things any easy with frequent references to that scenario where Mzansi might have to close its eyes and accept that coronavirus is here; it will take some and leave others and life will have to go on. Mkhize has not in so many words alluded to the dark possibility that lockdown measures and other Disaster Management rituals are only an initial reaction; otherwise facing the storm of the virus will be the endgame.

President Ramaphosa seemed to allude to that scenario in his announcement of the planned scaling down of the lockdown from Level 4 to Level 3. He said the Republic needed the lockdown to prepare hospitals and other facilities for the coming multitudes of patients. Ramaphosa speaks as a diplomat and negotiator that he has always been while the minister frequently declines into scientific brutality that can be scary. The threat of a coronavirus world and a real survival of the fittest scramble for life is not so concealed to all and sundry, not only in South Africa but worldwide.

Capitalism or death
From biblical times to the present, such times of crisis and tragedy in the world as the coronavirus moment, have given rise to all kinds of prophets and philosophers. Heroic scientists that happen to discover vaccines and medicines or invent some remedial gadgets also come up to claim space. Slavoj Zizek might have been philosophising to the present moment when he observed that it is easy for the regular people of the world to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.

Capitalism as an economic and also political system has been so normalised and naturalised that it is easy to see capitalism without the world and not the world without capitalism. The fear for capitalism disguised as the love and respect for the economy is waging its unsalutary head in South Africa. The Democratic Alliance (DA) is leading amongst organisations that are dragging President Ramaphosa and the government to court for the continued lockdown that chief among many damages, it is argued, is the injury to the economy and individual freedoms.

The DA finds the ban for e-commerce, the enforcement of a military curfew and limit to the times of public physical exercise draconian and evil. Public health, in other terms, must not be elevated above the right to do business and enjoy individual freedom.

Cetshwayo Zindabazezwe Mabhena writes from Gezina, Pretoria:

Source - sundaynews
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