Reconciliation, corona style

Today is a holiday – Day of Reconciliation – in South Africa. It’s also the start of the annual holidays for many people which, in the case of 2020, will be a holiday unlike any other. For some it may be the last holiday they ever have, or it could be the last with their elderly parents or grandparents. Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Well, that’s how the President put it when he addressed the nation the other day (we refer to these national addresses as ‘family meetings’ now).

In the latest address new Covid safety measures were announced. For the first time, certain regions have regulations specific to each region. It’s harsh and many will not spend their holiday at the beach as they normally do, but if they obey the rules, it will be only for this year, and next year they can live normally again. If they had obeyed the rules months ago, this would probably not be happening.

I am angry at, and extremely impatient and scornful of, those who are upset at this new beach ban. They asked for it, they themselves have spread the virus. Many others like myself have been stuck at home, unable to work, unable to have fun, stressed, bored and fearful for almost a full year so that they can gad about breaking the rules, acting carelessly and endangering everyone else.

And now it’s teenagers testing positive in their thousands because their parents have taught them nothing. It’ll be hard for me to ever have respect and understanding of youthful ways again. This might well turn me into that crabby old lady who hates the youth of today. Who is going to want to enter the healthcare field after all this? Who would want to work with the public if your own customers bring sickness?

Anyway, that rant is over. I am staying put these holidays, of course. Walks with the dogs (my local beaches are staying open so I’ll venture out to one or two isolated ones), reading, Netflix, gardening, eating, same old same old as this whole year. I am not inclined to cook anything festive but I would love a gammon, preferably one that is already cooked, which I believe is hard to find and costs a fortune. My lockdown inmates might not even all be here, but we will probably braai / bbq a lot. And all I want Santa to bring me is a contribution to my fund campaign as link below.

So anyway, what is the Day of Reconciliation? Many South Africans don’t know, they only see it as the end of the working year. The 16th was a holiday for a very long time but changed to Reconciliation in 1994 in an attempt to unite the people of this country after the turbulent years of apartheid and before that colonialism. It hasn’t really worked, sad to say. Many people still see their fellow citizens as ‘others’ and ‘they’.

People do not know each other. They don’t understand each others’ customs and habits. They don’t know each others’ history. Black people know what it’s like to be white because they’ve worked for whites all their lives, for hundreds of years, but the majority of white people have never been to a black township or inside a black person’s home.

Many white people have no black friends. Many black people have no white friends. How then can we reconcile the segregated past? My understanding and knowledge of what black people think and feel has come directly from them. I asked, they answered, it was not always easy-listening, but it was needed. I have black friends, how can one not?

The political power in this country is held by black people, but the economic power is still held by whites – the stats show this quite clearly when you see that the biggest fortunes in the country are almost all white. Attitude also plays a big role .. as long as white people still see themselves as entitled to a good life while their black servants do their bidding, there is little unity and no understanding of the ‘other’.

People generally do not like to read this sort of thing. People do not have this conversation. They avoid it. And so of course nothing changes. It doesn’t help of course that the state has dragged its corrupt and incompetent heels on land reclamation claims and building affordable housing for the poor.

Wow, two rants in one post. Note to self: make next post as light as possible.

Let’s go light and fluffy with photos of food and the garden.

No wonder I’ve put on so much weight – lockdown baking: carrot cake, bread and butter pudding, apple clafoutis. Three oft repeated acts in this household, especially that last one because it’s soooo easy to make.

Above: look at the poppy that is still creased from unfurling, and also the white one in a sea of red. Below: duranta with its lovely drooping purple flowers that smell of vanilla and caramel. On the right, nasturtiums incongruously growing up an aloe ferox in which rests an animal skull found in the Karoo.

No tourists, no income. No income, no payment to the bank for my minibus. Hence, a crowdfund campaign to save it from the bank’s greedy jaws. Many thanks for any contributions.

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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