Day 44 – Not nice

South Africa is now at (beyond?) breaking point.

Everyone is unhappy, angry, frustrated and generally wholly pissed off at the lockdown, but at the same time, no-one is doing very much about obeying the regulations about social distancing, wearing a mask and staying at home. And so those only-occasionally policed regulations are utterly pointless anyway. Covid-19 cases are increasing massively every day, we’re surrounded by closed supermarkets because staff have tested positive…

…the (public) labs have run out of testing kits (but they weren’t doing enough tests anyway), the economy – already tanking – has surprised everyone by tanking even more when few thought that was even possible, and our government is nowhere to be seen or heard, except for when it occasionally sends a representative clown out to shout at drivers.

It’s not nice.

People are obviously (and rightfully) concerned, afraid, upset, and they’re taking it out on one another (from a safe anti-social distance) on online platforms across the nation. The thin veneer of harmony and togetherness which was evident when we first started on this journey has now been worn completely and glaringly through, and the decrepit state of the glue holding the country together is alarming visible.

I’ve said before that there are no easy answers, but the lack of communication, transparency or any sort of action from the government is more than worrying – it’s near criminal. The gulf between what should be being done and what is actually happening is widening every minute. Even the number of staunch ANC supporters who are still in agreement with their party’s current approach to this crisis seems to be dwindling every day.

It’s a mess.

And it’s really not going to get any better any time soon. There’s no control over the people, and no control over the virus. Things are going to get a lot, lot worse – and fast – before anything improves. If that improvement ever happens.

I’m sorry to be the bearer of such pessimism brutal honesty that you didn’t want to read. But the government not doing what they should and the public not doing what they should is an absolute recipe for disaster.

And so that’s where we’re headed right now.

More of this, please

“More of what?” I hear you ask.
More of this, please:

Our local “influencers” need to do this too, please.

I’m so tired of Instagram posts in which the subject “just happens” to be wearing the dress she got from this store or the bag that she was sent by that brand. Blog posts detailing wonderful weekends away, the best bit of which – you later discover – was that the experience was provided free of charge (or at least in exchange for a blog post detailing just how wonderful the wonderful weekend was).

The lack of any clear disclosure that product endorsement is being paid for is duplicitous and disingenuous. In the UK, it’s also illegal. But this isn’t the UK and there are plenty (or more) budding “social media stars” and wannabes who are quite prepared to leave their ethics at the door and quietly sell their pixels for an unnamed fee.

Of course, fooling the public relies on the public being foolish enough to be fooled, but look at those 419 emails telling you about the $11,000,000 ELEVEN MILLION USD that they’ve been left in a will, which they’ll gladly share with you if you help them out with the legal costs. You wouldn’t ever fall for one of those though, would you? But clearly, some people do, because those scammers keep sending them. So it stands to reason that some individuals will be taken in by an undisclosed product endorsement.

I’m not saying that our local influencers are scamming anyone, of course. But what a lot of them are doing is ethically dubious: promoting a lifestyle they don’t lead, with goods that they haven’t paid for, in places they’re being hosted for free, while making out that it’s the best thing ever and that you can have it all too.

Sadly, it seems that this trend of social media influencers isn’t going away any time soon. So maybe it’s about time that there were rules put in place to ensure a bit more honesty in the way that they behave. Please.

 

This post was not sponsored by anyone. 

Why are you still here?

No, dear readers. This isn’t a question for you. 
We all know why you’re still here. It’s the almost ethereal, magical, magnetic attraction of the prose you read on these pages. It’s a completely understandable and excusable addiction.
No, this was a question I was asked by the Molton Brown Boys over a particularly tasty curry at Bihari last night. I guess it’s at this point that I should explain that the Molton Brown Boys are a group of friends that get together for a curry and a beer every so often and discuss everything from Borat through to cement statistics.
We were drawn together by our shared outlook on life and our penchant for fine soaps. Deal with it.

So – why are I still here?

The question was posed, I believe, in response to the current “bad news” vibe in South Africa and my ability, as a UK citizen, to up and run back to the safety of Blighty at any time. Why would I want to stay?

Let’s look at the bad news: electricity shortages, crime*, bloody awful customer service. Sure, they’re huge issues – especially those first two. If you’re samzn0, then you’ve obviously had a particularly bad couple of weeks in January and the third one is a big problem too.
But if you want to complain about something else, then you actually have to dig a bit. You could moan about the Government, but some would argue that in many respects, they’re doing a pretty decent job – it’s politics and no-one ever agrees about politics.
You could moan about the inflation and interest rates, and it is a real drain on one’s finances each month, but these growing pains come with a developing economy and frustratingly high oil prices.
You could moan about Bafana Bafana’s exit from the Afcon tournament, but they got drawn in the Group of Death – Senegal are out too. Who’d have thunk it?  

No, life isn’t always easy here, but then is it always easy elsewhere? You see, I believe that wherever you run to, you’ll still find problems and drawbacks. Maybe not as acute and as pressing as those here, but irritating and frustrating, nevertheless.
Examples? Is Gordon Brown everyone’s cup of tea? How much is a litre of petrol in London? And what are England’s footballers doing this summer?

There’s always the plus side. The bit that some people in South Africa (and virtually everyone on that appalling internet forum) try to bury under all the bad stuff. And yes, there are also plus sides wherever else you go in the world as well.
I’m not stupid. I keep an eye on the news and what I see and hear “on the street”. I’m aware of the challenges SA faces now and in the future.
But perhaps part of the lure of SA is the rollercoaster ride between the bad news (which is often pretty bad) and the good bits, which are actually exceptionally good.

There’s the weather, the lifestyle, the food, the scenery, the braais.
There’s the people, the smiles, the optimism, the hope, the World Cup(s). 

It’s hard to define the experience of living in South Africa right now. If one were only to review the newspapers and the news websites (like the people on that forum do), then one would get a horribly skewed version of the country. Actually living here, it’s not like that at all. I’m typing this in a brightly lit room on a PC which is working absolutely fine. I haven’t been murdered today.
Note that I’m not making any claims about customer service though.

One must take the rough with the smooth. And the smooth in South Africa more than makes up for the rough.
I’m staying put, thank you very much.

* Interestingly, the moaning about crime has dropped significantly since the recent round power cuts began. Evidently, even your highly-trained, seasoned moaner can run out of negativity.