Why is South Africa called the “rainbow nation”?
Well, we are a country made up of many different cultures, a rich history, 12 different official languages, and an incredible variety of foods and wild animals.
Besides this, we have one of the most beautiful and diverse sceneries in the world, from the forests of the Garden Route to the Winelands of Cape Town and even the dry deserts of the Karoo.
Yes, we are a colorful nation, and I think what really makes us unique is that we have weathered so many violent storms; From the unjust and criminally wrong Apartheid, hard economic recessions, wicked corruption, and now the devastating Covid-19.
How has South Africa faired? More importantly, how have the people of South Africa faired? Will our rainbow nation shine after this new storm? Will we show the world that Covid is just another bump in the road?
I think we will, and we can already see that South Africa is surviving despite the hardships of 2020.
Don’t believe me? Let’s dive in and have a look at this gorgeous country through the eyes of a South African.
How did 2020 affect South Africa?
As with the rest of the world, South Africa heard about the virus, but I think many of us doubted that it would reach our shores. We all continued with our lives and believed that Covid was most probably another form of flu, but we were wrong.
When lockdown hit South Africa in March of 2020, most of us thought that it would be a 3 week holiday, not 6 weeks of one of the strictest lockdowns in the world.
Some of the lockdown restrictions under level 5 included:
- Only leaving your house for medical emergencies or essential groceries
- A ban on alcohol and liquor
- No school or work
- All restaurants and clothing stores closed
- There was an imposed curfew as well
- No visiting family or friends
Looking back, it’s crazy to think how these 6 weeks of standstill affected the whole country. Not just economically but also psychologically.
About 3 million South Africans lost their jobs; many had their salaries cut by 50% (including my household), meaning that millions could no longer feed their families or provide basic necessities.
We read horror stories of children eating grass from the fields because they were so hungry.
Besides this, many had to say goodbye to loved ones in hospitals over the phone. We had to attend zoom funerals, weddings, and even births. Families longed to be together, and children missed their friends and grandparents.
The virus killed over 55,000 people in SA. Many believe that these stats are actually much higher, but we might not know the exact amount due to a lack of testing and funding.
But like the rest of the world, we grieved our loved ones, lived through our financial losses, celebrated weddings over the computer, and saw our newborns only once they arrived home with their mothers.
Covid strangely humbled the whole world, making us realize that something so tiny could stop humanity in its tracks.
But over a year on, how are we doing as South Africans?
Despite the hardships of last year, South Africa has survived.
We are still here, working hard together to make a better future for our children and loved ones.
Stats have shown that the economy is slowly picking up, many South Africans have found creative ways to make a living, and some have even been able to build thriving businesses despite losing jobs last year. For the first time in ages, the rand even briefly fell below R14 to a $, which was great!
The pandemic allowed many to be creative with their work ideas. Allowing for job creation and new business opportunities.
The shops are full of smiling faces, people buying clothes and food (and thankfully, the return of toilet paper on shelves.)
In the evenings, when we go out, the restaurants are full, with couples and families enjoying a variety of different yummy dishes.
When we enjoy outdoor trips, the picnic spots are filled with families catching up on lost time. Hugging, laughing, and enjoying a glass of wine or a beer. (The alcohol ban was lifted)
The sidewalks are full of people running, walking, jogging, and cycling. We see this all over the country.
Sometimes the only thing that reminds us that Covid is still lurking around is that we all still wear our masks and sanitize, but we know that this is helping to keep us all safe. (Interestingly, our Covid numbers have been really low. With a maximum of cases a day at 700 or less, it’s slowly picking up again now heading into winter, but I think the reason for our lower numbers is because we all work together as South Africans to keep safe.)
Joburg, Pretoria, Duban, and Cape Town are alive once again with movement. The Winelands of Stellenbosch are still producing delicious Merlots and Chardonnays.
Joburg’s nightlife is still very much alive with people going to clubs and enjoying restaurants. (We still have an 11 pm curfew in place, though)
Tourists are visiting our beautiful country and are enjoying the rainbow nation’s sunshine, food, culture, music, and people.
Those who love surfing are catching waves in Durban and Richards Bay, and many have adventured through the mountains of the Drakensberg on hikes. ( We even had snow in the mountains, allowing for many city dwellers to flock to the mountains.)
Animals lovers are enjoying Safaris again.. Seeing lion, cheetah, and elephants in the wild.
Our children are back at school, learning hard, adapting to change.
South Africa has changed, in some ways good, in other ways not so good. But what makes this country so incredible is the people’s spirit to survive and thrive, despite hardships.
On a final thought:
As the vaccines get slowly rolled out, we think back on how 2020 made the entire earth stand still. But humanity is resilient.. we have to be.
And as South Africans, maybe our budgets are a little tighter, but our spirits are still African. Living freely, living bravely, and enjoying this beautiful country together as a nation with an unbreakable spirit.