Of conspicuous consumption and moving on

As soon as some restrictions were lifted in May, we abandoned the living-space gyms for the tarmac – in large numbers. South Africans had moved on to what they do best – conspicuous consumption. Picture: iStock/ Vershinin
As soon as some restrictions were lifted in May, we abandoned the living-space gyms for the tarmac – in large numbers. South Africans had moved on to what they do best – conspicuous consumption. Picture: iStock/ Vershinin

VOICES


The past three months have been challenging for South Africans.

There were many firsts as we began our “new normal”, staying safe in our homes, as the government requested.

In this way, health authorities could get facilities ready for the expected winter surge in infections and also help to delay the spread the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The number of infections in South Africa, compared with countries that delayed implementing lockdowns, have been far fewer. It could have been a lot worse.

With limited movement, people started doing more in their homes.

With restaurants closed, suddenly the number of “chefs” mushroomed.

As gyms were closed, people converted their living rooms, garages and yards into home gyms or jogging tracks.

By day, living rooms were converted into classrooms for the little ones to catch up on schoolwork via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. And by night, the rooms returned to being areas where families sat together to watch TV or enjoy a meal. Everyone happy.

The number of infections in South Africa, compared with countries that delayed implementing lockdowns, have been far fewer. It could have been a lot worse
Dumisane Lubisi

As we went deeper into the lockdown and the stocked beverages were running low, people became instant brew masters.

Home brew, usually associated with village and township lowlifes, or reserved only for imisebenzi (traditional ceremonies), trended and recipes for a good brew went viral.

We made do with whatever we had within our confined spaces and it seemed to work – or so we hoped.

But we are South Africans – we move away from one thing to the next without thinking twice about it.

Today we are consumed by the horrific gender-based violence and tomorrow we have moved on to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of that Siphiwe Tshabalala goal at the 2010 World Cup.

As soon as some restrictions were lifted in May, we abandoned the living-space gyms for the tarmac – in large numbers.

When the delivery of fast food was finally allowed, the scooter brigade was out in full swing, delivering the food we were craving.

The self-styled chefs petered out – and they disappeared when restaurants were allowed for sit-downs.

Read: You can have a meal at your favourite restaurant from Monday

But the most notable phenomenon occurred when the ban on the sale of booze was lifted.

South Africans queued in snaking lines – last seen in 1994 when the country voted to become a democracy – at liquor outlets on that first Monday (and on the subsequent days).

There I was hoping that those home-brew recipes we shared when bottle stores were closed would lead to the emergence of small and medium brewers. We need small businesses for the economy to work and to help alleviate unemployment.

But South Africans had moved on to what they do best – conspicuous consumption.


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Dumisane Lubisi 

Executive Editor

+27 11 713 9001
dumisane.lubisi@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park

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