I was on a plane to Durban a few weeks ago to see Durban Greenpeace Africa Volunteers for our usual meetings and planning of activities. A lady sneezed and almost every other passenger in my row turned back with a sense of fear, pulling out their masks to put them on. Our Volunteers are also in a panic because they don’t know what to expect. Our offline activities have been suspended, volunteers and staff have to learn or adapt to work online which is challenging if you are not used to it. Panic is everywhere: people are panic buying groceries like never before. Medical suppliers are running out of essential stock. Many of us are no longer going to work or we are working from home. Schools are closing, and children are left to wonder whether they should go play at the park or stay at home – a question children shouldn’t be burdened with.
You have invaded us; you have invaded our way of living.
Countries are closing their borders and flights are being heavily regulated with constant, rigorous testing. Global economies are sinking. I have never seen so much fake news spreading so quickly on the internet; almost as quickly as you have spread throughout the world, and as quickly as you have forced the world as we know it to completely change. I will see a row of passengers on a plane recoil in fear when somebody sneezes for a long time to come.
Your destruction has made us have to sacrifice things that are fundamental to our humanity: hugging and shaking hands, meeting people we know in public areas. Businesses are running at a loss and closing. Health clubs are losing members. All of this because of you.
Indeed, you have brought so many changes. Like many other people, I am left speechless at how quickly things have turned.
Do you think you will win against the most creative and innovative people in Africa?
My answer to you is a big NO. We have faced bigger monsters than you and with the spirit of UBUNTU in our DNA, we are going to summon ourselves against you and become victorious – as South Africans always are.
August Maluka (Greenpeace Africa: Mobilisation Officer)