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A torturous battle



Years will come and the events thereof will play in the background like music from a forgotten midnight. Whether poetic or plain blasé, what goes on in a year is in plain terms the result of human effort and interaction, that is, all that goes on in a human being’s life is in a lot of ways related to the activities in other human beings’ lives. The pleasure of one human is dependent on the pleasures of other human beings and equally, the sadness of one as a human being is directly related to the episodes of interaction such a human has with fellow beings. The beginning of the year that has just passed brought with it a pandemic that is still continuing and does not seem to abate. It is going to be a long battle with this one, and the leadership we have at this point in time has none of the strengths Sir Winston Churchill had in 1943 or in the early years of his life as a young soldier in the Anglo-Boer War. We have a leadership governed by trends on social media, and it seems most of their decisions are based on what they see in the news mill rather than on common sense. Though social media has become the hype of the moment, the reality is that what is shared on its platforms does not have enough sense to render it a worthy tool to make sense of the world. We are stepping into a new era where autocracy will hide behind adherence to pandemic rules, and it will be a time where names will fade because they have become symbols to a disease. It is a time in which fear shall be instilled in buckets of fear and the spirit of human resilience shall be done away with on the basis of compliance to a new type of simple question: what if those anti-pandemic rules voices are actually telling the truth when they declare the new pandemic a farce meant to render the poor poorer? We have come to a time where devil-worship is done openly on the basis of compliance to a disease. It has always been my humble opinion that whoever teaches fear is a tool of the devil, and this means that we have a lot of devil incarnates in our midst. Teaching lessons on accepting defeat even before the real battle begins, the leaders of today would not last a week in the presence of stolid figures of yesteryear that were willing to die on foreign soils to save the earth from any type of malady. This time around, we are supposed to take whatever comes lying down and without question. That we are going hungrier with each obedient day does not seem to be the lead concern, the main concern is that we should comply no matter the prohibitive nature of many of the rules. That there is a second wave of that virus I do not want to name coming our way. The question up here in the kingdom is: did we understand the seriousness of anything in the course of the first wave? Open questions with regard to whether it was fair to push so many of the citizens of the world into the cold arms of poverty on the basis of some unfinished project run around in my mind. Perhaps it is the beginning of some conspiracy theory that the disease was purposely created in some lab, or that its wide publication marks the beginning of some New World Order, but none of these cannot be dismissed from the perspective of the common man who gets only snippets of what exactly the virus means. There is a tonne of information on the prohibitive measures to take to counter the virus; there are megatons of vague information of what the strains (variants) thereof really mean in terms of their danger to the ordinary citizens. The statistics are flashed almost every hour, but one question remains: how many people died in the previous years, that is, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015? Are the figures dissimilar to those of the pandemic? These are just laymen’s questions, but they could provide answers to whether the now accepted panic mentality is justified. It ought to be recognised that the Prohibition of the 1920’s, like any major social movement, appealed to humanity at several different levels simultaneously. The issue of the prohibition of alcohol depended on the personality characteristics of individuals for it to be understood. The personality of the average human these days is that of a coward if one is to be blunt. The larger part of the human race has since the last two world wars, the economic depressions of the 1930’s, the 1970’s and the early 2000’s been cowed into silence. With the progress of the years an ideology of the politician/leader that wants to be kow-towed for the sake of access to the economic benefits based on association and affiliation instead of constitutional right has bred a class of the poor that literally have to beg to live through each passing day. The declarations made at rallies and campaigns are often just real vestiges of the symbolic expression of group sentiments, that is, the warnings one hears on a daily basis could well be just be clarion calls of one class sharing their interests on the platforms of information they actually own. The manner and pattern with which some of the orders have been made or given does not seem to have rational consideration of the means by which the lower classes and the vulnerable can or will survive the pandemic. It seems that only the interests of the upper class are of primary focus when it comes to dealing with the pandemic and the plight of the poor is taking the back of the line. It does not matter what the pandemic shall achieve in the end, but the factors that contributed to the virus gaining strength will be the direct result of the movements taken by the leadership of the world to deal with the virus. The move to focus on the dispensation shall help the Third World none, ensuring that the people are well fed is the bigger concern here, and movements by leaders like Ramaphosa in essence only serve the Europe-based pharmaceutical companies that are going to make a killing from the manufacture of the vaccines. The truth of the matter is that Africa is the largest part of the Third World, and even such rich countries as South Africa do not make it in the Second World ranks. The vaccines will come too late at the present rate, but the repercussions of the lockdowns will have gone beyond just dealing with the hunger and poverty: total anarchy is sure to come if African leadership still goes on to behave like they have the benefits of their European fellows (maybe they do if one is to consider the perks of office they enjoy). Modern African political leadership is congruent with what we know about the current anti-critic mentality seen during the course of the pandemic and its association with authoritarian personalities of the ‘experts’ and ministers and their apparent intolerance of ambiguity (that is, ambiguity in the form of alternative voices and opinions with regard to dealing with the pandemic). Many observers of socio-political logic may seem unusually reluctant to accept that ‘mass neurosis/political fervour’ seems to be the prevalent attitude of the leadership when it comes to the explanation of social and political movements that came in the course of the lockdowns, in essence putting the subjugation of human and constitutional freedoms of individuals and communities on the scale it was in the days of the Prohibition of the 1920’s and the 1930s. The politically driven group psychology used to control the masses in the present age will form the core of the historical studies in the future and may prove to be a useful tool in accounting for the power of motivation a large (wealthy) minority has on the entire population of the world. The leadership of the Third World countries has become one of the most committed supporters of the mindset of fear that is slowly being instilled into the minds of the human race at this point in time. The manner with which many of the lockdowns have been installed is in laymen terms not Constitutional and any amendments are sure not to be made as the scramble for pharmaceutical tenders for vaccines intensifies. There is also the increasing reality with regard to the existence of ‘projective politics’, that is, the type of ‘democratic’ politics where the leader imposes/projects their fears and opinions on the general population because the ‘circumstances’ so dictate. It has to be explained why the seeming episodes of shared neuroses caused by the realities of the first phase shall be dealt with in the long run. They seem to have somehow found their expression in the leadership’s and authorities’ silent protest that there could be alternative means to dealing with the pandemic rather than imposing the economically crippling lockdowns. It is necessary to examine the alternatives to find more rational means to dealing with the pandemic. The success of any counter-pandemic movement depends on it having a certain level of temperance because its inclusive nature means that it is able to involve well-balanced opinions of many people directly affected by the pandemic. Not all rationality is rationalisation as the saying goes, and the manner with which the whole anti-pandemic exercise depended on rationalising even the vaguely understood is wrong. For many people on the ground, the whole lockdown drive was not a rational expression of the economic interests of all sectors of society from the onset. One opponent of the Prohibition on alcohol in the 1920’s, Congressman Vollmer of Iowa, scoffed at the systematic locking up of people’s right to drink alcohol as an example of the great American superstition: Belief in the magic formulae: Be it resolved and be it enacted. Similar thoughts seem to have sprouted once again this time, prompting speculation that the failed psychologies of the Prohibition era are being used in the case of the Coronavirus scenario where the lockdown is seen as the magical elixir that will lead the masses into thinking that they will be saved. The prohibitive nature of the Coronavirus rules is in essence the mark of the birth of a new era that is focused on giving government enough power to ensure the fulfilment of the wishes of the upper classes in different societies at the expense of the lower classes: the low classes will surely starve stuck indoors waiting for rations from charity. Andrew Sinclair’s Prohibition: The Era of Excess speculates along Freudian lines resting on the assertion that: Man’s judgements of value follow directly his wishes for happiness. That accordingly they are an attempt to support his illusions with arguments. Sinclair sees the source of Prohibition as lying in various forms of public and general fear, stressing the point that: The questions which occupied the American people in the first three decades of this century, were not the questions which occupied their Presidents. While the White House was concerned with trusts and taxation and tariffs and foreign affairs, the people worried over prohibition and Romanism and fundamentalism and immigration and the growing power of the cities of the United States. These worries lay under the surface of all political conflicts. For the old America of the village and farms distrusted the new America of the urban masses. Prohibition was the final victory of the defenders of the American past. The reality is that the old guard are scared of the new guard, and the realities of the moment are going to fade as the struggle to defend the old overtakes the more rational choice to deal with the clear and present danger. The political class have messed up over the years in the post-independence era; the now ‘viral’ pandemic offers them the last opportunity to redress the wrongs committed, that is: unfulfilled promises of a better life for all in the post-independence era, better education for all, less poverty and no hunger in the Third World. None of these have been fulfilled, but one can guess that the Romanian pride and lust for power that has seen the political governance of Africa fail the people a countless times before carries more power over common sense. There is need to shatter the old mould in the course of the pandemic days and to redress the wrongs committed. There is need to see the plight of the lower classes as a reality that has to be dealt with immediately. There is need to address the real problems of the people on the ground instead of relying on unreliable survey reports before dealing with the real challenges the people face on a daily basis. There is need to accept change as change comes and to stop the blame games instead of dealing with the root of the problem. Had this been done in the early days of the pandemic, the stats would have been different. We would have crossed that river of sobs instead of drowning in its maelstroms like we are doing at this point in time. Tšepiso S. Mothibi

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