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Published: June 28th 2020
Covid-19“Nature is pleased with simplicity. And nature is no dummy.”- Isaac Newton
Something majestic about elephants.
Thank goodness there is a thing called a pause button. Timely to hit it and put Covid-19 to one side for a moment.
Fortunately, in the current level 3 scenario of our lock down, one is able to spread those wings just a bit. A week ago, we did just that along with close friends, Brett and Lorraine Wilson Jones, when we left the confines of our homes for the first time in weeks and headed for the Schotia Safaris Private Game Reserve which abuts onto the eastern side of the Addo Park. This is an upmarket game park which caters primarily for the international market but the virus has virtually shut down their operations. In business, when backs are to the wall, one does what is necessary to ensure survival and Schotia have recalibrated and now target the local market. They have applied their minds to the challenge and, realising locals don’t have the benefit of foreign currencies, the packages offered are extremely affordable. In our case for R200 per person, we were able to partake in a 3-hour guided game drive, with our vehicles following
A splendid male recently inaugurated as the dominant male in the pride
a game ranger vehicle. With a radio in each vehicle, we set off on a seriously enjoyable outing in pristine eastern cape bushveld. This 1600 ha reserve was once a farm but, a good one hundred years ago, the Bean family converted it to a natural park and stocked it with wild animals. The game viewing was exceptional and there was no evidence of “social distancing” as we encountered herds of buffalo, elephant and many of the antelope species, a pride of lion, a tower of giraffes, a pod of hippopotamus, a dazzle of zebra, a crash of rhino and a confusion of wildebeest. Our guide was able on radio to tack anecdotal stories onto the game viewing experience and this outing was a superb “release” from the repetitiveness of the lengthy lock down up to that point. Nature somehow brings perspective to our chaotic World and these animals were simply doing what they do, day in and day out, and that is to find enough food to eat and then keep a watchful eye for anything higher up in the food chain. They avoid dabbling in the crazy stuff humans gravitate towards and consequently their life is simpler and
Easy to understand where the term "tower" originates for a gathering of giraffe
purer. Anyone needing “time out” and an urge to go and embrace a bush experience, do not discount a day trip to Schotia (www.schotiasafaris.co.za
Back in the so-called real World, there is plenty unfolding which will add to the depth of conversation around the campfire five years from now. America
has gone crazy with massive upsurges in Covid-19 infections causing confusion and panic around what measures are needed to reverse the situation. The majority view across many states seems to be “let’s save the economy” and accepting that there will be more deaths due to the virus not behaving as misguided political leaders led the population to believe. And then, the #blacklivesmatter
movement has mutated into a rampage of destruction which targets any statue or person associated in the distant past with slavery. That’s what it is supposed to be about, but increasingly it seems there is little distinction as statues of those who were anti-slavery are ripped down. No one could ever condone slavery but where does one draw the line in terms of denigrating history? Many of the early Presidents and leaders owned slaves so does this mean that any and everything associated with these people
A Confederate statue being removed
should be destroyed? Imagine the extent of cities, towns, streets etc., having to be renamed. Maybe those on the loony left see this as an opportunity to provide a nuclear charged boost to the economy by creating employment for thousands to tear down street signs, demolish statues and shred the currency given those whose faces are imprinted thereon. Rather than looking back at history and the distant past, these architects of destruction should turn their attention to slavery in our modern times. There were numerous reports in late 2017 of a migrant slave market operating openly in Libya. That’s almost a case of an inconvenient truth best avoided. Will sanity prevail? Thomas Jefferson
said it best; “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”
Here in South Africa
in the past week
we were exposed to the fragility of our economy when the Minister of Finance tabled an “emergency budget”. I suspect the word “emergency” is simply not strong enough to underscore our predicament. For the first time we hear whispers of a possible “sovereign debt default” which for any country does not get worse as it is then unable to repay capital
The hippo sized virus consuming the economy
or interest on debt. Our borrowings are rising at an alarming rate and it is a little trite that this Government blames Covid-19. The damage has been building over the past ten years and there has been very little effort over that period to curb debt growth, corruption, wasteful expenditure on hopelessly managed SOE’s and a bloated and overpaid civil service. Tax collections have been declining steadily over recent years, the economy has been stagnant, foreign investment has fallen off a cliff but the largesse of the ruling party towards its own ends has been relentless. Let’s not kid ourselves, South Africa is in deep trouble and it was fitting that the Minister likened it to having a “hippopotamus in the room”. The ANC is terrified at the prospect of a sovereign debt default as this would automatically lead to the IMF stepping in and they would then dictate financial policy.
Covid-19 continues to weave a path of incredible impact across the World. Brazil
has over a million infections that they know about and is now second to the USA in total number of infections. India
is experiencing a massive surge in infections and it has been reported that 122 million people have lost their jobs in their lock down. This is a country of 1.2 billion people with a poor health infrastructure and they simply do not have the capacity to test and isolate on the scale needed. Reporting is patchy and the true extent of what is happening there is relatively obscure. South Africa
is at a critical juncture in the progress of the virus with infections currently at 131,800
and deaths at 2,413.
Our curve is spiking up sharply on the back of roughly 8000 new cases and 75 deaths per day. There are reports of hospitals at breaking point in Port Elizabeth and there is no doubt that what was projected is now unravelling. It is somewhat ironical that there are very detailed regulations and protocols imposed on tennis and golf but in many towns and places of gathering across the country, social distancing and wearing of masks is virtually non-existent. Experts are openly advising that it’s now up to the population and how it behaves which will ultimately slow down the spread of infection. We are not a disciplined nation along the lines of Japan or South Korea and I doubt enough people in this country will “play by the rules” to curb the spread. Undoubtedly, a ticking time bomb and now more than ever is the time for all to impose a self-styled lock down and adhere to the basic rules so widely known but so poorly observed.
There are almost 200 companies working frantically to develop a vaccine but at this point, trials will only be finalised by year end. No silver bullet in sight.
Not unsurprisingly, Covid-19 is presenting some real game changer
trends. One of them is the move away from cities to smaller, more rural locations as people realise they don’t need to be in the big cities to work. This is evident as the young, high tech population move away from Silicon Valley to more affordable homes and lodgings elsewhere. In Seattle landlords are reporting that 1 in 5 tenants has given notice. I suspect we will see the same trend here in South Africa as people in the financial services and banking sectors have readily adapted to WFH (working from home) and would happily move away from our big cities to quieter and more affordable locales.
There is much out there to cause concern, anxiety, confusion but as one hears so often when confronted with seemingly insurmountable challenges; “these things too shall pass.” “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller
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