AUTHORS NOTE – Apologize in advance for missing last week’s post, and the fairly Debbie Downerish post written out before you. It’s been a shitty few weeks to say the least. From friends canceling their trip here, to a non-COVID (?) illness decimating our family, and well, hopefully the forecast calls for double rainbows and sunshine from here on out!
Only two weeks ago we were enjoying a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with friends. Feasting on a partially-overcooked turkey, while discussing the exciting plans we all had for the upcoming holiday season. A season that South Africans had not only been desperately craving for themselves, but also for their beleaguered nation, which was eager to revive a severely depleted tourism industry from the past year and a half. It was an opportunity to welcome foreigners, friends & family, and relish in the prospects that a post-vaccinated life provided us.
And then Omicron decided to yield its difficult-to-pronounce-on-a-consistent-basis, heavily-mutated head.
Within days, literally, days, the world had all but canceled South Africa, and its neighboring brothers & sisters. Despite Omicron already being present in multiple overseas nations at the time, and even though almost nothing was known about this variant aside from how “spiky” it was, the travel bans were put in place, and holiday season in South Africa was over before it even began. And South Africans everywhere let out a collective & exhausted sigh. Not of relief, but of acceptance. Because it was not the first time this had happened. And in their hearts, they knew it would not be the last.
Parents, who had anxiously been awaiting a visit from their children, many of whom they had not seen in over 2 years, would have to continue their wait. Grandparents, yet to ever have the experience of meeting their grandchildren in person, were forced to postpone their hugs until the following holiday season. And graduated students, looking for an opportunity to reach out and explore the world, suddenly found doors shut upon them once again.
To this day, Omicron has spread to almost 60 countries worldwide, with most already experiencing community transmission. Yet South Africa, remains canceled. Even as more and more information comes out in regard to Omicron and its potential lack of severity, the travel bans remain. Even despite the fact that South Africans have been some of the most diligent in the world in protecting one another, wearing masks both indoors and outdoors, even when cases dipped to as few as a hundred per day. Amongst a population of almost 60 million. The travel ban remains.
Yet, across the world, amongst those nations invoking these bans, masks had been taken off months ago, despite sky-rocketing cases, consistently-overrun hospitals and an ever-mounting death toll. A white flag had been waved within their borders, while the gates were closed outside of them. All while hoarding enough vaccine doses to inoculate their citizens ten times over, as the continent of Africa sat at a meager 6% vaccinated.
The hypocrisy is beyond belief.
So here we stand. One region of the world, punished for sending out the warning message. And the rest of the world, ignoring science, ignoring the World Health Organization and ignoring their promises made only a few weeks prior, all to score a few political points with their supporters. Sentencing South Africa to a disastrous economic fate, while implementing a ban that has been proven, time and time again, to have a negligible impact on the spread of this virus. And even worse, sending out an ever-clearer message to the finder of the next variant – Keep a lid on it, or you too will be canceled.
Until we come to the realization that this is a global fight against a global virus, we will never win. As long as we hide within our borders, and hope that those outside of them, most of which are incapable of surviving on their own, do just that, the end result is inevitable. More variants. More disease. More death. And maybe not from COVID. Maybe from the next pandemic, which strikes us sooner than we expected. But if we have not learned how to respond any better in the last hundred years. What is to say we will in the next?
At the end of the day, life goes on in South Africa. The sky has not fallen, the cities have not burnt to the ground. The power is still on, the water is still running, and people are out and about, making the most of the hand they have been dealt. Masks are worn, outdoor activities are opted for over indoor one’s, and the courteousness amongst strangers has only strengthened. Yes, the end seems further away today than it did yesterday. And yes, people are “over” COVID. But that does not mean that South Africans are over looking out for one another.
And neither should the rest of the world.
PRIOR BLOG POSTS:
Year Abroad Intro:
• Welcome to our Newest Blog! Again!
• The Move - Dissected, Probed and Then Probed Some More
• The Voyage (Part 1) - If At First You Don't Succeed, Trying Again Won't Work Either
• The Voyage (Part 2) - The Layover to Rule All Other Layovers
• A Personal Life Update - Establishing Our Shallow Roots
A Guide to South Africa:
• How to be an Expat When You Aren't Technically an Expat
(Part 1 - Bank Accounts)
• How to be an Expat, When You Aren't Technically an Expat (Part 2 - Health Insurance)
• Load Shedding - Keeping the Lights Off in South Africa Since 2007
• 195 Ways to Fight a Pandemic - The South Africa Edition
• Halloween in South Africa - Playing Catch-Up Since 2016
• SnapScan - South Africa's Glimpse into America's Future
• Thanksgiving in South Africa - Where My Turkeys Be At?
• Life at the Epicenter of Omicron - A Different Type of Cancel Culture
• Playgrounds - The Starbucks of South Africa
• Cost of Living in South Africa - An Exploratory Journey of Everyday Expenses
• Namibia Roadtrip (1 of 3) - Driving a Shake Weight to Sossusvlei
• Namibia Roadtrip (2 of 3) - Searching for Souls in Swakopmund
• Namibia Roadtrip (3 of 3) - Getting our Safari on at Etosha National Park
• Weekend Getaway in Robertson - A Trip Down Pleasantville Lane
• Summer Holiday Trip (1 of 3) - Glamping Without the Glam in the Drakensberg Mountains
• Summer Holiday Trip (2 of 3) - The Historical Chronicles of Kruger National Park
• Summer Holiday Trip (3 of 3) - Searching for Whales and Spare Tires in the Overberg
• Visitors Round 1 - The Woodmans - An Expedited Exploration of Everything
• The Great Wildebeest Migration - 15 Years of Waiting Decided in 15 Minutes
• Ngorongoro Crater - A Pre-Migration Layover Inside an Inverted Volcano
• Ndutu - The Safari to Rule All Other Safaris
• Serengeti National Park - Seeking Out Simba at an Abandoned Pride Rock
• Zanzibar - The Island of Sugar, Spice and Most Things Nice
• Visitors Round 2 - Let's Ignore Our Sanity & Do All The Things
• Wild Coast - A Little Tatse of the O.G. South Africa
• Spring Break in September - Just as Strange as it Sounds
• A Day in the Life of a South African Expat - The Visual Edition
• A Wrinkle in Our Spare Time
• Our Final Week in South Africa - A Bittersweet Symphony of Bucket Lists
The Other Stuff:
• This is 40: The South Africa Version