Sunday 12 July 2020

SOS – Steve on Sunday


5 July to 12 July 2020

Saturday 4 July:

Day 100 it was today – Day 100 of the lockdown that started so, so long ago as a three week shutdown to allow the hospitals and health departments to prepare for the plague that was imminent.

We listened like goodie two shoes that we all are at heart. We watched TV every 20 minutes or so for the announcements. We waited very patiently for the Right Honourable Sir Cyril Ramaphosa to give us his talk at 7pm only to hear him talk at 9pm or not at all.

We were happy to do without alcohol and cigarettes, it was only for 3 weeks after all, they said. We stocked up on the basics to last us 3 weeks and more. Especially toilet rolls. The National Coronavirus Command Council then added two weeks to the Lockdown. A slight panic in regard to alcohol and cigarette stocks. At that stage there were no levels of lockdown and we would all be relieved of lockdown after 35 days. How wrong we all were.

‘They’ then placed us all on continuous lockdown. Five different levels beginning with the first stage, Level 5. It was just like the ‘report card’ system that I could never ever get off at my Umtali secondary school. Get punished or get rewarded. Simple system. But I could never get off. No matter how good I was…note I do not mention the bad.

For ‘obeying’ the lockdown of level 5, we would be rewarded by advancing to level 4. Naturally it all depended on how the plague was doing and all the talking heads were ecstatic when they announced we were going on to level 4. The plague was under control! The NCCC were being congratulated by everyone, by the USA, by the EU, by the UN, by the WHO, by Dr Khumalo, by the BGees, by themselves. They smiled and smiled and smiled. They had done good!! Very good. We all had, us sort of obedient citizens because not everyone was obeying the myriad rules and regulations, were we now? Even some of the talking heads continued as if there was no plague and it was all a sort of ridiculous political scheme thought up by some people who wished to change the world. Maybe it was! Maybe it is?

Being promoted to Level 4 was fantastic!! It really was as we would soon be on Level 1 and voila, we’re all free to go back to living as we knew it. Even some businesses were allowed to open…

But on Level 4, Stalin, Lenin, Mao Tse Tung, Hitler, Mussolini, Koning Leopold and their erstwhile pals took over command in the republic of South Africa. There was now a nightly curfew imposed and other draconian rules introduced. Alcohol and cigarettes were still banned and road blocks were all over the place. Sometimes two within 200 metres of each other. Basically checking 3 things: if you had permission to be on the road; if you were carrying alcohol; if you were carrying cigarettes. There were others but it appeared these three were the BIG ones.

Some of us native to this continent we all love became restless. Quite restless. There were noises aplenty and the men and women in blue were all over the place searching for nicotine products and alcohol and throwing surfers in the van. They were also not averse in using their arms and legs and boots to stress their point of view to someone who disagreed. Many did not wear a mask and they did not do social distancing – they were above those petty regulations or so it appeared. It had gone from bad to worse and we were all being punished. A pity we did not know what we had done wrong.

Then came Level 3 which allowed more businesses to open and instead of going to levels 2 and 1 which would have been normal, every 3rd day or so more rules relaxing the level were introduced. From 3 (a) to 3 (b) and so on. I think we may be on Level 3 (m) at this stage. No sign of Level 2 although businesses and activities originally only allowed under Level 1 were opened. How strange. It is as if someone or some command council do not want us to reach Level 2 and then Level 1. Because that someone may have lost the power and control they currently have. The key – power and control.

But guess what?

The plague is now hitting certain provinces with a vengeance. In the areas where no social distancing was observed and masks were not worn. Where life was and still is until very recently one long party.

Remember how Lockdown was started to get the hospitals and health departments ready? You do? Well, they were not ready, and are not ready still. We have a problem Houston. We really do.

The congratulations to the politicians and pats on their backs from the world in containing the plague have ceased. We are in the dwang. The Eastern Cape has only 530 ICU beds available. A tender went out recently to build 8 temporary state field hospitals in that same province but has yet to be advertised. The successful tender will be announced in middle July and the hospitals will be ready in October. October? Yip, you read correctly. By then the plague’s peak will have been and gone. I hope. Government wheels appear to move slowly if at all.

Goodness, the truth is definitely stranger than fiction.

And you know what?

We all believe that Level 1 is where we get back our lives.


Ever heard of Level O? The level below 1 which has not been mentioned before. I think that Level O is when we can all return to normal. No ‘new’ normal, just normal.

Remember you read it here first.

Sunday 5 July:

It is not my fault, or I do not think it is my fault, that I was born in 1956 in Southern Rhodesia. Southern Rhodesia is now Zimbabwe but at that exact time when I descended from a cloud, with assistance from a stork, it was a British Colony.  Self-governing, but nevertheless a colony of the then Great Britain. The country was also, since 1953, the major part of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. This Federation would collapse in 1963.

To be historically accurate, I think I am a colonial. Yes? No? Or a colonialist? No? Yes? I was not a colonist. Or was I? A federated colonial? A federational? I did check in the dictionary to see what I may have been in 1956 but cannot really find the correct word to describe what I would have been other than a screaming baby.

Any suggestions from my seven readers without being rude?

I suppose I would be correct in saying that I am Southern Rhodesian (Federation) born, raised and educated in that colony and later Rhodesia, and then left for South Africa shortly after the land became known as Zimbabwe. That was in 1980. So I would have been a Southern Rhodesian, a Rhodesian, a Zimbabwean and then a South African.

My Dad was South African of South African descent, born in Boksburg, did not know Gerrie Coetzee or his dog Wendy, and was educated at the Jeppe High School for Boys. Same school as Umtali’s Costa Haitas who was in fact Headboy there in his final year.

The reason for the ‘colonial’ question is that yesterday, 5 July, was the birth date of Cecil Rhodes in 1853. There was a weekend holiday in the then Rhodesia known as ‘Rhodes and Founders’, Rhodes Day being the first or sometimes the second Monday in July, and the day following was Founders Day.

I just remember it was a big party in my old home town Umtali (now Mutare) as the weekend holiday was the last few days of our popular Aloe Festival that lasted for between 7 and 10 days. There was an Aloe Queen, a float procession, treasure hunts, a rugby festival, a traditional braaivleis and music after the rugby on the Saturday, and a lot of other entertainment too numerous to mention.

The rugby was always good, and we all expected Umtali Boys High to win the knock out game on the Saturday and be in the final on Monday afternoon. Well, most of the times that did actually happen, but the occasional loss on the Saturday really did spoil the braaivleis evening and the rest of the weekend.

One really good thing about the festival was that it brought in tourists to the eastern highlands of Rhodesia.

What many people do not know is that 5 July is also the date that the dry diamond diggings camp got its name Kimberley, as did the alluvial digging camp Klipdrift that became Barkly West.

Kimberley is named after a politician, the Earl of Kimberley, perhaps better known as John Wodehouse, the British secretary of state for the colonies when diamonds were found on the farm Vooruitzigt (now Kimberley).

Barkly West is named after Sir Henry Barkly, the Governor at the Cape when diamonds were discovered.

So 5 July is quite an important date for those interested in history. It is a mere coincidence that Cecil Rhodes shares his birth date – he was only 20 years of age when Kimberley got its name.

Wednesday 8 July

Not a good day for South African print media today, and following so soon after the demise of so very many monthly magazines. The oldest daily Afrikaans newspaper, Die Volksblad, will cease its printing its newspaper on 10 August this year. The newspaper, headquartered in Bloemfontein, was first published in 1925, so is 95 years old. How sad is all this.

I believe they will be continuing as a digital newspaper (daily) so I can only wish them well. The weekly Afrikaans newspaper serving Kimberley, Die Noordkaap, will continue at this stage.

The weekly Diamond Fields Advertiser, until March this year a daily newspaper, has been keeping quiet about their future. Whether it will revert to a daily, remain as a weekly, or just go digital, remains to be seen. Perhaps, as a part of the Independent Newspaper Group, it may, perhaps, just close its doors. I sincerely hope it does not.

I like my printed newspapers and believe many others do too. I think, that for the next 20 years anyway, there is now an opportunity for someone to start a daily paper (newsprint) on the platteland. Make it a combined Afrikaans/English newspaper. Just a thought. Had I been twenty years younger I would have gone for it.

Thursday 9 July

Very serious blurbs yesterday and today as I see no humour in either!

Why today though?

Our magnificent city council, who normally meet once a year to increase their salaries, have decided to shut down the entire town’s water system from 10h00 on Saturday until 14h00 on Sunday. This is to facilitate some repairs at the pump station on the Vaal river.

That it is the coldest few days of the year is immaterial. So no hot water, let alone water for the majority of our citizens. Please remember that water is needed to wash our hands every few seconds.

And then the entire country goes on power shedding starting from tomorrow. Four hours per day in the Kimberley region.

I repeat: That it is the coldest few days of the year is immaterial.

What else?

Oh yes! We are on Lockdown so having no water and no electricity is just an added burden to all our lives. Luckily there is still strongly flavoured cool drink!

I shall, naturally, report back on what happens in regard to the lack of water. The Kimberley council is renowned for getting “switch water back on” dates very wrong. On one memorable occasion, it took 12 days for the town to get back on line and have water. The aroma in the city was, to be honest, rather unpleasant and overpowering. Our senses were dulled somewhat.

It was as if the National Coronavirus Command Council was having a meeting in Kimberley.


By Managing Editor

Highly respected, Writer, Blogger, Wildlife Conservationist, Hunter and Father.......

2 thoughts on “SOS – Steve On Sunday”
  1. Really enjoy your blog (is that what we call it?)
    I came with my parents to the then Southern Rhodesia in 1957, to a farm near Headlands (still called Headlands thank goodness) where my dad worked on a tobacco farm. That is also why I enjoy your reminiscing about days gone by, especially in this changing (massively changing) world / country we live in.
    It looks like our lock down here in Zim is also being reviewed to AGAIN follow your!

  2. A fine story Steve. I normally don’t like Mondays, especially on a Sunday evening. But this cheers me up. Keep feeling fine.

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