I’m not here to pick on my home township but I do think that in this case, it serves as a microcosm of the state of our townships at the moment.
A community in mourning
Over the last week the Toekomsrus community – a coloured township on the west of Gauteng in Randfontein has lost 10 people (that we know of) to COVID-19; moms, dads, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, pastors and teachers.
Please note there have been other cases and deaths related to COVID but it would seem that this week’s staggered deaths have brought home the realisation that in fact the Coronavirus is everywhere and it could be anyone.
The community seems broken, picture collages of those lost are going around with the words, “wat maak corona”. Pictures of candles captioned “Toekies in mourning”.
Friday 24 July even saw the call for a “praying together from a distance” biduur, where residents had been asked to stand outside their individual homes at 17:00 to pray for Toekomsrus. To ask God to protect the community and have mercy on us during this time where there has been a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths in Toekomsrus.
Beautiful Gestures & Noble Causes
These are all beautiful and noble acts and of course, any community experiencing this sense of loss should be mourning and we should be praying, but is prayer enough? I know that as a believer in times of uncertainty prayer is important but I also know that we need to apply wisdom along with asking God to have mercy on us.
We cannot ask God to have mercy on us, yet after those very funerals, we want to engage in an “after tears” which involves gathering and drinking together to figuratively wipe each other’s tears.
We cannot ask God to have mercy on us when we insist on sitting together at the neighbours’ house with no social distancing, no masks and no thought of possibly contracting COVID from one of the people in the gathering or passing it on ourselves without even realising that you yourself have been infected.
We cannot ask God to have mercy on us if we continue to walk to the shop, with our masks on our necks or without a mask on at all. We cannot ask God to have mercy on us if we don’t educate our children and show them that normal left on 5 March 2020, when the first case was reported in South Africa.
We need to teach them that running around in the streets all day and visiting anyone at any time without taking the necessary precautions is no longer a feasible way of life.
We need to speak to our young men who openly gather to have a drink just to strategically park their VW Golfs along the side of the road to remind themselves and others that they have arrived. These “informed” men and in some cases even young women, need to be the very individuals who are encouraging the rest of the community to stay home and embrace this safer way of life that could see us, as previously disadvantaged communities, overcoming the invasion of CORONA in our homes.
Our communities have been operating normally, living as if COVID is something you have to go looking for and unless you’re looking for it, you’re safe from getting it. I hear things like “ôs sal maa ammel saam gly” but now that they are able to put faces they knew, loved and respected to the death toll numbers, now they realise that COVID is real?
I know that this living in oblivion looks different from township to township; whether in Elsies, Mitchells Plain, Gugulethu, Soshanguve, Davidsonville, Eldorado Park or Soweto, I feel our struggle has been the same.
Why do we as a people have to see the effects of COVID in our back yards first before taking it seriously?
We can be part of flattening the curve.
We are able to overcome this difficult and trying period but we need to overcome the “it won’t happen to me” mentality first. We need to realise that we are all equally vulnerable but we can do our best to try and avoid becoming a statistic.
Follow the guidelines; they are not COVID proof but they do reduce your chances of getting infected and infecting others around you.
Let’s just do better.
*These are the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Vannie Kaap News.