This won’t be long. I’m writing because I need the outlet. I need to say what is in my heart, what is on my mind. I need to do that in a forum where I won’t get the pity look, or the uncomfortable one. Where I won’t feel like what I am sharing is so incomprehensible.
South Africa is in crisis. 27 years from apartheid and correcting the past and it’s a war zone. I don’t want to hear about reparations, or have and have-nots, or even the race card. This is not about race. It’s about criminals taking advantage. It’s about a lack of leadership.
This post is about none of that. And I’ll post links to news articles in the comments.
This is about what I am feeling as I watch events play out. I am miles away and our most pressing headline today revolved around the fines that will be handed out if you release helium balloons into the air. Covid was the #2 story.
I grew up in this little suburb called Queensburgh. (Pronounced queens borough). Primary school and high school next door to each other. Walked to and from school every day. Had friends all along that walk. Started my first job in a little burger place and was taught by the black women who waited with me how to handle clients, money and trays of food. My second job was in the same place – police woman in the local police station. My childhood home. So many memories.
I am on day 3 of not knowing if my call will get through. If my family will be safe. When I can talk to them I hear fear and insecurity. Not just because there are gunshots, but because they think it’s too quiet. They don’t know if there will be food next week.
My nephew has joined the community patrol. He’s 24 and does not carry a weapon.
A friend has also joined. He does carry a weapon.
Best friend from high school was stuck at work for 36 hours (she’s a nurse) because others couldn’t get to work and she was too scared to leave. Her children at home and her husband, a policeman, out on duty. Her hospital running low of food for patients and staff.
My cousin, a soldier, deployed to help.
My sister in her house as they use her road to access the shopping centres.
My mother in the retirement village, watching this unfold in front of her. The main street runs right outside. Their frail care low on food and necessities.
And so many more. Communities banding together and taking law into their own hands to protect what is theirs and what they have worked for.
Food will be, and is already, a shortage. Trucks cannot get through. Fuel trucks (to support police) are under armed guard. There won’t be work – warehouses are empty, shops destroyed, burning everything. The poverty line will become more divisive. People will starve.
I’m not being melodramatic. No work = no money = no food = death. And it’s not like I can just wave a wand and make sure those I love have enough. A shortage is a shortage and there will be suffering. I cannot stop it.
It’s tearing me apart. I am safe, fed, warm and they are not.
My childhood home will become a shell of itself. Those photos of other war torn countries comes to mind.
But probably the hardest is knowing that my chances of seeing my parents again is super small. We do not have the best relationships but this was definitely not how I wanted it to end.
I will probably never go back now. And that is heartbreaking too. I will not be able to show anyone my touch points from my childhood and I have no photos.
I know many that read this have no comprehension of what this is like. I lived there so the idea of violence and what is being experienced is clear. It’s the 1980s all over again. I don’t want pity. I do want the world to notice and to help.
Thank you for reading. It’s hour by hour until some semblance of law is restored. For now communities are doing what police and defence force can’t (or won’t). I pray for safety and level heads.