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Avoiding the Issue, Writing About the Easter Bunny

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on May 30, 2020 16:54

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The rising trend of race-connected violence as reported leaves me traumatized, remembering the history of my country. I feel disqualified from writing about the internal politics of another country, so I take the easier option: to write about the virus and how it affects everyone in the world, especially the little ones.

I grew up in Apartheid South Africa, where race was the determining factor in everyone's lives. I served, under compulsion, in the South African Army, later planned troop deployments in the run-up to the 1986 State of Emergency. I served as a South African diplomat overseas, trying to explain scenes like we have been seeing in the American media lately. My generation paid the price of an outdated ideology, trying to make facts fit political beliefs and requirements. We exercised our vote to end a political system that believed it was possible to keep cultures and belief systems separate.

Writing about someone else's politics is not easy, and I feel disqualified. My facts might be wrong, my conclusions invalid. Should I risk saying what, I think, most people outside the US feel? That this is a replay of South African history? That treating people like second class citizens is just not acceptable in civilized countries?

Let me avoid the issue then. Let me write about the present coronavirus and the effects it is having in a small rural village, where people are sitting out the crisis, where farmers are trying to save their life savings, workers wait and hope new jobs will emerge, where even the Easter Bunny had to shelter in place. Where children are not allowed to visit friends, go to school, enjoy normality. 

So there was great excitement when it was finally announced: The bunny has come and gone, there are Easter eggs hidden in the garden! Emma, the family guard dog, enthusiastically joined the hunt and ate only one egg. The children had a great time, because their nerves are also wearing thin after two months of confinement, of seeing the tension in the faces of their parents.

A moment of normality in the midst of the crisis. Photo with permission of Susan van Wyk/Hester de Smidt

But after the excitement little Isabelle came, teary-eyed, to her mother, unable to reconcile the need for self-isolation with traditional rural hospitality. "I think the bunny was very rude. He should at least have stayed for coffee."

Coen Van Wyk

Posted on May 30, 2020 16:54

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Source: BuzzFeed

In dual national crises with an absence at the top, the country’s political leadership is as weak as its least capable local...

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