Human rights in the time of Corona

March 21, 2020 – Day 6 since South Africans asked the President for Covid-19 pandemic guidance and then promptly ignored everything he said. Also Human Rights Day.

240 affected, no deaths, and no critical cases. Increase of 38 since yesterday.

Today is Human Rights Day – a national day commemorated annually on 21 March to remind South Africans about the sacrifices that accompanied the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. It’s linked to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declared in 1948 by the UN. The irony is that 1948 is also the year the National Party won the elections in South Africa, where only whites voted, and which was the launchpad for structured segregation known as apartheid, lasting over 40 years. The Nats, as we called them, became known as the Architects of Apartheid – they designed it, down to the last segregated bench and doorway.

South Africa became a democracy in 1994 with a general election for everyone to vote in and thereafter human rights were incorporated in our own Bill of Rights, a chapter in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, established in 1996.

Why 21 March to commemorate this? Because that is the day in 1960 when a peaceful protest in Sharpeville became a bloodbath.  69 people died and 180 were wounded when police fired on the peaceful crowd that had gathered in protest against the Pass laws. This day marked an affirmation by ordinary people, rising in unison to proclaim their rights. It became an iconic date in our country’s history that today we commemorate as Human Rights Day as a reminder of our rights and the cost paid for our treasured human rights. Read more here.

Now, 60 years later, to the day, some of those rights are now suspended since the President has declared a State of Disaster because of Covid-19. That’s what it means when such a state is declared – some of our rights are taken from us, for the greater good. We cannot gather today to celebrate this day because the right to gathering in large numbers has been temporarily removed.

That was the history lesson, now a bit of a rant:

  • Stay away from restaurants and gatherings that are not necessary.  (Wtf is it with people insisting on going to restaurants? Can’t you cook? Can’t you get a take-out? What did you all buy when your cars filled the mall parking lot for days on end this week?)
  • Have your stupid dinner parties via facetime or skype or whatever.
  • Don’t complain next month or next year or ever that the government did not do anything – ours is doing a great job and it is the people who are not listening. The selfish people who think they know better.
  • We are waiting to see how the entitled classes moan about national health care after they have overwhelmed the system with their idiot unnecessary requests for tests.


Today I will do some more cleaning (i.e. supervising cleaning) and some gardening. It’s a big day for gardens today, in Cape Town, it is the day we are allowed to water our gardens with the use of hosepipes for a very short time. It’s a massive luxury considering that we are still under severe water restrictions after a bad drought, and all this hand washing is bound to be depleting water levels. Garden centres are very busy at the moment seeing as staying home and faffing over our own patches is pretty much all we can do. I haven’t needed to buy anything yet, tidying up is enough to begin with.


About Francoise Armour

I run a small touring company (Tours du Cap) at the bottom of Africa, to show visitors the beauty and vibrant culture of the country I have lived in since my parents brought me here from France as a child. I enjoy taking photos and wish I had learnt to do it properly. I enjoy writing but don't do enough of it. I enjoy walking in the mountains that surround me and I marvel over the views and the flowers and the amazing rock formations. I have a small, cute, clever, black dog of indeterminable breed, named Vida, who reminds me regularly that walking and getting out is not only for when tourists want it.

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A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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