This is the second Easter weekend since the earth-shattering lockdown of last year which none of us had ever experienced before. Things that we took for granted since March last year are now looking like memories from a very distant past.
Just walking on the beach, visiting friends and going to a park seem like a luxury. We have basically become prisoners in our own towns, offices and homes because of so many restrictions and protocols that we now have to follow. Worshipping as we knew it has ceased to exist as the very practices that made the church and worshipping what it is are the very things that could potentially infect us and possibly kill us. Add the restrictions on numbers that may gather at any one time and the discouragement of out-of-town visits and sleepovers, you can see that ayisafani.
The cultural practices have to be so sanitised – no pun intended – that they hardly resemble what they were only a year ago. The togetherness, the sharing and the communal nature of these events have to be altered to a point that they look and feel like a box-ticking exercise. A couple of weeks ago there was a traditional ceremony in my neighbourhood and umqombothi (traditional beer) was served in polystyrene cups – imagine that. Can you blame people for not bothering to even attend church or these traditional ceremonies? Sport has been decimated. The professional matches we used to enjoy watching, whether live or on TV, look like stale and lifeless events now. Players do not even celebrate after scoring as the energy of the crowd they used to feed from is no longer there, so the whole thing seems rather pointless.
One thing that does not make sense though is – if 250 people are allowed to attend a church service and revelers are allowed to go to taverns which are all indoor facilities then why are there NO spectators allowed in an open air arena like a stadium? Maybe I do not understand science or I am plain stupid – so can someone more knowledgeable explain the logic behind this particular regulation and restriction?
The entertainment sector has also been pulverised by these restrictions as no concerts can be held with enough numbers to allow artists to earn a living hosting live events before a live audience. Who is making a case for sport at the high table? Has the ministry under Nathi Mthethwa done enough to fight for the arts and sport sector so they can be saved from extinction? Have the national federations made enough efforts to convince national government to relax some of the restrictions as they have done with religious and cultural gatherings? Sport is an industry and an economic driver like any other, so why have we allowed it to be restricted for so long – unnecessarily, in my opinion?
How would an open air 50 000-seater stadium pose a health risk to, let’s say, 10 000 spectators spread along its vast seating space? What health risk is hosting a soccer, netball or rugby game in the open air posing to those people attending it, all wearing their masks and social distancing? I come back to – who is making a case for sport? I support wholeheartedly the attempts to limit the spread of the virus and save lives, but the restrictions have to make sense and safeguard livelihoods as much as they can. As things stand – some simply do not make sense and have to be looked at, urgently. Enjoy the Easter weekend and please stay safe.