Just when one thought it was safe to be optimistic again. It was a regular thing to hear someone complain that 2019 was the worst year thus far in their existence. Then came 2020 and the pandemic. So far, 2021, with its vicious second and third waves of Covid-19, has been giving it a run for its money. Just in one’s small social group, it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t lost a relative, friend, or colleague.
I’ve heard people saying that the bad news has been so relentless that they’ve stopped checking their Facebook in fear of what might be revealed. Writing a column that is supposed to be light-hearted for a magazine that is supposed to be about the nicer things in life has been quite a challenge. At the time of writing it feels as though we are getting there. South Africa has faced its biggest post-apartheid crisis with the violence that erupted after the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma. It’s still far from clear how this will end, but we can say with a degree of confidence that so far the centre has held. It was especially heart-warming to see communities standing up to the looters.
Even on Covid we are turning the corner, although the tragic news flow of friends who have lost loved ones hasn’t abated. It’s been officially spring for a few days, the weather is getting warmer, and more and more of us are getting vaccinated. This is hopefully going to take us to a new phase where we can start talking about living with the virus and enjoy the good things in life, such as the amazing art and artists featured in this magazine.
Personally, I haven’t seen my elderly relatives since the pandemic broke out and I’m looking forward to being able to do so in the confidence of our all having had our Covid-19 jabs. One new threat is the proliferation of anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists, with the “misinformation pandemic” threatening progress.
Travelling is something that Wanted readers will have missed greatly, with South Africa having been closed off from much of the rest of the world. Hopefully, we will be getting off many of these red lists and we’ll be able to welcome tourists for what is usually a busy summer period. How much more fun would the Lions tour have been if we’d been able to rub the Springboks’ victory in the faces of thousands of visiting British and Irish fans?
Humanity is on borrowed time, and the things that give us pleasure are part of the problem
But last month there came a report on climate change showing that humanity is on borrowed time, and the things that give us pleasure are part of the problem. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change generated apocalyptic headlines across the world and should make us all rethink our own behaviour. How will we be able to justify going on a plane to visit faraway countries for holidays if that is a big factor contributing to the climate change that threatens the very existence of humanity?
I even had a friend whose partner enjoys brewing his own craft beer say that this hobby is also bad for the environment, requiring extra refrigeration. All the good things seem to be bad. While complacency would be a catastrophic thing, we can at least take comfort in the fact that humans so far have proved to be resilient and innovative. A return to some normalcy after a brutal 18 months is something to look forward to.
• Mnyanda is the editor of Business Day.
• From the September edition of Wanted, 2021.