They say that every cloud has a silver lining. In many ways, the ‘silver lining’ of the COVID cloud is the fact that, for better or worse, it is helping to unite South Africans regardless of their background or race. While it is true that this unity amongst all races is being created as a direct result of fighting against a common enemy, it is also true that South Africans are united in their feelings around how the government has handled lockdown restrictions over the course of the last few months.
Authoritarianism or science-backed restrictions?
Rewind back to when lockdown was first announced and implemented. President Cyril Ramaphosa and the rest of the ANC government received bucketloads of praise for taking such swift, decisive action to protect South Africa and her people. Fast forward a few months down the line and the overwhelming feeling of irritation and anger directed towards the same government figures is practically palpable.
South Africans are tired. They are terrified. They feel lost and uncertain. A huge number of us are starting to go a bit stir crazy due to limitations on our movement. The economy is collapsing, and the virus continues to spread like wildfire.
For many, it seems as though lockdown restrictions have done more harm than good. Couple this with the back and forth around alcohol and cigarette bans, and you can understand the aggravation. The reality is that for a significant portion of black South Africans, the COVID experience isn’t all that foreign. It smacks of what life was like back in the days of apartheid. And white South Africans are being forced to live through a similar experience.
Ultimately, there is no denying that lockdown restrictions are necessary right now. Having said that, there is also no escaping the emotional, mental and physical exhaustion that they have brought about. We are all battling through difficult times with no end in sight – but at least we are all in it together to one degree or another. We are uniting faster and stronger than ever before. Amidst the chaos and the panic, hopefully, this sense of unity and a better understanding of one another is the good thing that comes out of it all. Never waste a good crisis!