Steve on Sunday

11 April 2021

Greetings my fellow hard of hearing makwerekwere and others,

I think the majority of us can read, it is the remembering what we have read that has become difficult as the years slip by quite alarmingly and speedily too. It is hard to believe that it is over a year ago that we in South Africa were forced into lockdown, a situation that remains with us to this day albeit not as strict as it was for the first 35 days in March and April 2020.

Prior to the initial lockdown there were five published authors in the Kimberley area commissioned to keep a diary until the end of lockdown, this for a book to come out as soon as lockdown lifted. Four of the authors had packed it in by the sixth week whereas I kept my diary that lasted all of 100 days before that too came to a halt. Naturally, the book did not see the light of day as the publisher was, I believe, quite keen on many deaths a la 1918 Spanish Flu and including the deaths of at least one or two of those writing the book.

Well, that did not happen, and despite this pandemic not coming anywhere close to the Spanish Flu deaths we are still under lockdown and being threatened with third and fourth waves and vaccines and liquor being banned regularly. A state of disaster gets renewed each month. Curfew hours change monthly. Amazing.

I have retrieved excerpts from my writings of a year ago, deleting the boring and mundane and repetitive.

Enjoy the flashback.

11 April 2020

A day of recovery after the mighty storm that hit Kimberley in the late afternoon of Good Friday.  And continued into the night. The original storm, boasting hail the size of golf balls, dropped some 55 mm in my area, other areas receiving up to 70 mm.

It did destroy many homes in the informal settlements, took off rooves, and general played havoc with the gardens of everyone. Trees and bushes were denuded. My naartjie trees lost 75% of their crop which is about 2 weeks away from fruition.

A young female Namaqua dove was concussed by the hail and had to be rescued from the violence. (The good news there is that the dove did recover and has been seen with her partner).

14 April 2020

I cannot recall doing anything important this day other than getting out of bed, pottering around doing as little as possible, eating, showering, gardening, reading and sleeping, and not really in that order. And of course I did do a little stroll around the garden for a kilometre or two. Went to bed early and for a change just fell asleep without any reading. If I found typing this boring I am sure you found it just so too.

16 April 2020

Yay! The last day of the three week lockdown!

Boo! Not anymore with lockdown extended another two weeks. It will, of course, be extended ad nauseum until at last August, or so the TV media is hinting.

I note that mechanics are now exempted from the lockdown so finally (hopefully) my golfie can be fixed and returned to me. The mechanic was only waiting on the one spare part when original lockdown began.

19 April 2020

Today is Sunday. I do have to remind myself each day.

Imagine what Bill Murray went through while filming Ground Hog Day. Each day filming a repeat of the previous day with a few changes. The same music, same waking up, same, same. The same Director! The same camera crew! Hopefully the food was different on set because in the film it was the same…

Warm today. Can water be locked down? Not on Kimberley’s streets as water rushes everywhere from burst pipes. When shopping for essentials one does tend to see these rivers all over town. Perfect for white water enthusiasts. I can only presume the municipal workers are locked down. Or locked up for breaking quarantine?

While politicians on a national level are taking a small percentage cut off their exorbitant monthly salaries – limited mind you, to 3 months duration, and very small cut too – there is not a word from our Sol Plaatje municipal councillors about them taking a voluntary cut. Our council is basically bankrupt. I cannot see the council being loaned any money in the near future, as like the extremely troubled and bankrupt SA Airways, the loan would be merely to pay the salaries and the councillors would be paid first before the workers. My suggestion is that all councillors take a voluntary 90% pay cut for a period until the next municipal election and with that massive saving pay the salary of those who actually do work – the council employees.

21 April 2020

It was back to the standard exercise routine today after the walk to fetch my golfie from the mechanic recently released from his enforced parole. Actually, about the only difference between being on lockdown and parole is that with lockdown there is no need to report daily/weekly/monthly.  There is another difference. When on parole you are allowed to do what you need and wish to do (without leaving your area) whereas with lockdown you are only allowed to leave your place of residence on urgent and essential business. Like the need to purchase another 400 toilet rolls.

Does anybody ever learn from history?

No need to answer…

I must mention that research never stops and in the last few weeks have learnt so much more than normal.

For instance:

Frederick Courteney Selous was known as ‘Fred’. That should not have come as a surprise but somehow sounds so wrong. Fred Selous does not sound as important as Frederick Courteney Selous, does it now? You may, or may not know, that when you die you suddenly find your name comes out in full complete with middle name. Hence you get Cecil JOHN Rhodes, Dr Leander STARR Jameson, Ian DOUGLAS Smith, Nelson ROLIHLAHLA Mandela, and so on and so forth.

Fred, I hope he does not mind me being personal, was also a descendant of a French Huguenot. The ‘e’ of his surname was added later so his surname was Slous, or perhaps Slieu? Fred Slous doesn’t sound quite right either!

But wait, there’s more!

Fred Slous also travelled extensively during the 1870s and 1880s in my basic military national service area of Wankie (Hwange). Interesting to read of Pandamatenga, Deka, Dett, Siabuwa, and of course, the Victoria Falls. I was there a mere 100 years after the hunter/explorer.

He also travelled with Frank Mandy in the early 1870s, Frank Mandy being a Kimberley personality of note in later years. A former Papal Guard, Frank was also a member of the 1890 Pioneer Column, and lost a son during the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902. Son Raymond Frank Mandy was a member of the famed Rimington Scouts.

22 April 2020

A quiet day, although each and every day for those locked down at the moment is quite quiet. Except the traffic. The vehicular traffic has picked up his last week and the vehicle noise from the main Bloemfontein road (N8) two blocks away from where I am currently residing has increased dramatically in comparison to the start of lockdown on 26 March.

I did an essential walk trip to get bread and milk, remembering that last Wednesday I counted 15 vagrants helping themselves to whatever is within the refuse bags, Wednesday being the day this particular area gets serviced by the municipality. I only counted six gentlemen today along my route to the shop but then I did the walk a little later in the morning when I (and they) were both past our initial burst of energy.

During my pre-sunrise and sunrise walk around the garden I counted 21 of these garbage entrepreneurs going past the house on the street, this during a 60 minute period. Life appears to be back to normal for some of us.

I do believe that the lockdown and subsequent loss of ‘piece’ jobs and indeed formal employment has resulted in some great suffering. Of the six refuse bag looters I passed on the way to the shop, four were very well dressed and would not have been out of place in a shopping mall. All were scavenging for food.

Interestingly, after four weeks lockdown there are still only 18 confirmed cases of the virus in the entire Northern Cape province, the largest of South Africa’s nine provinces, with zero deaths. Which, of course, is very good news. Are we doing something or even everything right? Did we lockdown at the perfect time? Are the dark days still ahead? Sorry, too many questions and no answers forthcoming.

There are towns and villages – many it appears – that are in lockdown even though there are zero cases. A good example is Port Nolloth on the Atlantic seaboard where everybody is confined to their homes and no-one is ill. The hospital only has the standard illness patients and the inhabitants are no doubt wondering why they cannot have all their businesses open. A friend of mine who resides in that area says that they should just have roadblocks outside the town and only let in essential service vehicles. He has a point. But then who is he and who am I to even suggest or query such delicate matters of national importance regarding health.

I am missing going out into the veld and subsequently the fauna and flora. As I have seen on the screen the footage of penguins walking in the Cape Town streets and the pride of lions sleeping on the tarred road (in the Kruger park) I do keep looking out the yard for jackals, hyenas and hopefully lions chasing an antelope down the street.

No such luck as sadly, I only see refuse bag looters. And that is not quite as beautiful as only nature can be.

29 April 2020

Yes, still locked down, and with the politicians commenting every now and again that the peak in South Africa is only expected in SEPTEMBER it appears it shall be with us for some time. Three weeks ago the supposed peak was going to be July, then August, and now September. How on earth do they know this?

Am trying my best to not write about this original Chinese virus, but sometimes there is no choice. Only going to pass one more comment on what I have seen on local RSA television. Or is it a question?

Are not our ministers and MEC’s loving all this attention they are suddenly getting? The joy of the power and control they have for the first time in their careers with the lockdown appears to me to be very visible. I think that it may be very difficult to get them to let go…

I suppose we shall see. Hopefully by September, or maybe next year some time.

I am definitely no prophet, so have to depend on that old saying about “Time shall tell”.

30 April 2020

I am going to talk about a circus or two. But first my day.

Ready to be bored? Good.

I did absolutely nothing, well, nearly nothing.

For the first time in 35 days I did not walk. Nor did I write anything other than what you are reading. The sun came out, it was beautiful. I read three newspapers that I purchased when buying some really essential food things. That was not good as it got me muttering and all my plans for the day went flapping out the yard. At least my plans were freed.

Cleaned my room, a daily task naturally. I washed some clothes. I washed some table cloths. I cleaned up a few more boxes of papers. I moved books from six piles to make five piles and one box. I stared out the window. Looked at the beautiful doves. Had sandwiches for brunch. Took medicine. Bored yet? Good. Then I read and nearly finished book on the Bermuda Triangle. Fell asleep. Woke up. Had my fourth cup of tea. Took in the washing. Had supper, nice chicken curry and rice. Went to bed. Slept for a few hours as it was dark, bit chilly. Got up at 23h00 and herewith this blurb.

What a day.

I am sure many of us remember Boswell and Wilkie circus when it came to Umtali (now Mutare Zimbabwe) in the 1960s and certainly early 1970s. Oh, how exciting it was for us youngsters. The noise, the music, the elephants and tigers. Real tigers. The breath-taking acrobatics of the trapeze artists, the ringmaster in all his glory, the sticky fingers from candyfloss, and of course, the clowns. Well, as we all know, circuses as we knew them are all but gone due to the terrible treatment of animals, etc. But as a child we of course did not know anything like that, it was just exciting stuff.

Boswell and Wilkie as we knew it may be gone but there is a different, but less exciting circus in town. Yes, it’s true and we’re part of it! Not paid of course, but that’s fine, its lockdown time where only some of us get paid.

A tent is not necessary in this circus. But if you wish for the circus to have a tent you may. In the ring there is a ringmaster. It is a ‘he’ and he dresses well and talks well and everyone laughs with him when he tries to put on a mask. But wait. There are more than just that one ringmaster – he is merely the most eloquent speaker. (Other than Paledi. I like Paledi, she is very, very good at everything she does. That she is the grand-daughter of ZK has nothing to do with it. ZK grew up in Kimberley by the way). There are dozens and dozens of ringmasters, all well dressed as they should be. Some talk well, many do not. One even calls a ventilator a vibrator. He is funny. Some are boring, some are downright boring. But there are lots and lots of them. Lots. Really lots. I think they get paid, these ringmasters.

There are no animals in this circus, no artists, no performing dogs or ponies, nothing, nowt, zero…it is so sad. But wait! What is this? Here they are! Here come the clowns!! Yay. They are funny, even funnier than the oh so many ringmasters. And they are all dressed as well as only clowns can be, some in green and brown and orange, others in blue and red and white. They do not want to wear masks as it hides their painted on smiles, but they have to. That is so sad, but never mind, they make us laugh. What is amazing is that there are literally thousands of them, many, many more than the ringmasters. But that’s fine. Clowns are good, except of course that one clown that hides in the drains. Thank you Stephen King.

Is that all this circus has to offer?

Nope. Not all. There is sawdust, very necessary as the ringmasters and clowns must stand on something. The sawdust, I think, is me and my friends and others I do not know. There is also manure. Old manure and fresh manure. Lots. I have no idea how the manure got there as there are no animals in this circus.

I suppose that I shall just have to accept the manure whether it is old or new and not actually wonder how it got there.

After all, manure is manure and seriously, I am not paid to think. In fact, I am not paid at all unlike those in the circus.

And that’s it folks, for this week. Have a good Sunday and week ahead, and remember, the circus is still with us!

Is it not great?

I thank you.

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