Africa is not for ‘sissies’.
This is a wild and unpredictable continent that tempts the adventurous and has no mercy on those without courage in their hearts. Whether it be coping with ants in the sugar bowl or monkeys pirouetting across swimming pool fences, we are a strong and resilient nation. Little disturbs the equilibrium of our two-tone farmers and muscle-bound rugby legends until a fear gripped our people that caused even the bravest to shudder in terror and run screaming into the dust.
Not even our president has been safe from attack.
This terror has superseded our country’s little hiccoughs such as being hi-jacked at gun point or robbed during Carte Blanche. It has crept into our illicit conversations with the neighbours through the hedge and has gained notoriety through social media posts. Not even our president has been safe from attack and had to ruthlessly fight it off on national TV in front of an entire, enraptured nation.
It is known by our National Corona Command Centre as ‘the mask’.
As with all growing threats it cannot be characterised by size or colour and at its meekest can lurk even in the depths of a woman’s handbag. We have all been lulled into a false sense of security for years, as it unobtrusively sneaked into our subconscious and became a familiar sight on Asian tour busses. For some time, I was most impressed by the fact that the Chinese had so many medical professionals visiting across the world and wondered about the number of the conferences they had to attend, especially when many of their eyes appeared so young.
A remarkable item.
It was during this deluded period of my life that I was cynically informed by those ‘in the know’ that it was a remarkable item. It allegedly could brutally fight Bird Flu, Ebola, SARS (the disease not the South African Revenue Services) and any manner of strange and exotic illnesses. In addition, it’s a marvellous cover up for acne, wrinkles, bank robbers and early morning halitosis. In fact, it should have been mandatory to wear on every red-eye flight. In those days it was only available in delicate white with charming gossamer ear loops.
Enter Miss C.O. Rona V.
Enter Miss C.O. Rona V onto the South African stage from a highly successful international tour. As she arrived literally taking the breath away from many vulnerable and unsuspecting folk, she wreaked havoc with the daily routines of our entire nation. She posed a mystery to medical science and politicians alike and squirmed into our lives through t-shirts, open toed shoes, cigarettes, and bottles of beer. She exhaled her vicious breath into every nook and cranny of our entire land releasing prisoners and offering special working visas to Cubans.
She wrought havoc on public relations.
She was incorrigible in gaining recruits and wrought havoc on public relations between leaders of traditional affairs and health conscious joggers. In fact, she separated the men from the boys by at least 1.5 meters and prodded military and police alike to throw the weight of the law behind little old ladies frolicking on the beach and babies who had the irrational urge to enter shops.
She feared no-one and infected all in her path forcing companies to bleed their profits and all folk to scuttle into their homes and blatantly avoid her presence.
A battle strategy.
Many covert meetings were held by experts who had had plenty of experience dealing with nasty maggots that had previously brought our country to its knees for 10 years. Rulers, scientists, politicians and rabble rousers’ burnt the mid-night oil trying to devise a battle strategy but eventually had to admit that summonsing her to court, even if which she would be automatically exonerated, or giving her free reign to drive expensive German vehicles would just not work in her case. Instead they devised a plan to fight her with a defence she had previously not been able to defy.
Enter ‘the mask’…
A law was immediately gazetted to force every law-abiding citizen and even the non-law-abiding ones, to cover their nose and mouth with a mask whenever they popped up for air. At first, we were all terrified when we poked an unsuspecting toe out of hibernation, as we didn’t know if our neighbours were greeting us on their way to the essential section of the supermarket, or if we were being robbed.
A Fashion Statement.
At that stage we were all experimenting with our fashion statement whilst donning the bandit disguise. Some masks ‘insisted’ on sliding down underneath the wearer’s chin especially when he/she was trying to balance their essential items in one hand and their shrinking credit card in the other. The pressure from the slipping mask resulted in squashed ‘cauliflower’ ears and reduced double chin flab. On the other hand, if you saw a shopper jiving in an erratic hip hop routine, it was usually because they were completely blinded by their mask sliding up over their eyes especially when both hands were violently rubbing together sandwiched with sanitiser.
Worst of all was the sudden pop of one of the ‘ear loops’ causing ‘the mask’ to hang from one ear like a frilly bauble.
Imposing, farmers in full Veldskoen regalia engaged in full battle with the delicate masks that wouldn’t fit behind large ears or worse still right over a leather hat. Grannies fumbled with tottering gaits and misted spectacles as they headed to the empty toilet roll shelves. Of course, cashiers were trained to ask open ended questions about shopping bags or unmarked items which forced a muffled Darth Vader response as the shopper tried to project an already squeaky voice through wriggling fibres that were threatening to invade both nostrils simultaneously.
Children, parents, young and old, fat and thin we all engaged in the battle bravely fending off Miss V. with ‘the mask’.
Two months on and the battle still rages.
In many cases the targeted victims fight her off with ‘the mask’ even though her attack is invisible and a well-kept secret for days. Many folks, especially males, are no longer terrified to go into public irrespective of the jaunty colour and innovative mask design, lovingly created by their bored locked-down partners.
Sadly, Miss V’s viscous ego sucks the life out of all who meet her or if she is feeling generous, simply reduces them to a gasping horror until she moves on to the next victim. She is currently indestructible and the pain and disaster she is causing is creating surging emotions across the earth. Although our masks are like feathers trying to hold back a Tsunami at least they offer some form of weapon against her cunning malevolence.
However, every star has her day.
When her time is over and gone, we will pick up the pieces, open the borders and hold conversations in normal voices. All our tour busses will be swamped with masks of all colours and sizes and I suspect the more affluent will sport Gucci labels and colour coded fabrics. Sunscreen will be right up there with the sanitisers as a ‘mask tan’ will be a real passion killer.
Africa is not for Sissies!
And in many years to come, as we clean out the suitcases of our ‘fat clothes’ and we will come across a faded snippet of fabric. We will tenderly stroke the stretched ear loops and remember the days of Miss V’s barbaric reign. We will talk about the ‘mask age’ and how it rocketed conference calls and online learning into a new dimension. We’ll laugh over the funny parts and cry over those we lost but we will also pat ourselves on the back and be proud of the fact that we are a resilient nation and we fought back hard. We’ll be proud of how we re-created our companies and invented a new market full of fresh ideas and innovative tours. We will remember that nothing holds us down for long because Africa is not for Sissies!
Africa is not for Sissies