Lockdown diaries: SA’s can-do spirit will get us through

The noisy antics of my neighbours warmed my heart. They reminded me that, no matter what, we South Africans know how to 'maak ’n plan'.


Braaing is a South African tradition. There is nothing we enjoy more than throwing some animals on the coals and sharing the moment with family or close friends.

It is more difficult during lockdown. Not the braaing part, but the sharing with those that are near and dear to you.

My neighbours, however, generally quiet people who spend lots of time indoors and like to keep to themselves, weren’t going to be put off by being imprisoned inside their four walls on the first Wednesday evening of lockdown.

Come hell or high water – or, as was the case that Wednesday, a sneaky, deadly virus and a torrential downpour – they were determined to celebrate Charlotte’s birthday.

Louis is in construction so their only form of shelter outside – the carport – is packed with building equipment. There is only enough room under cover for a braai and the braaier, at a squeeze.

But there they were, out in the pouring rain, with the boombox blaring and the steaks sizzling away, partying up a storm in a storm.

Having missed the chaotic bottle store run before the lockdown, they didn’t have an alcoholic beverage with which to toast Charlotte. And plain Coke just wouldn’t do.

But their industrious son, Dyllon, knew I had stocked up before liquor outlets closed their doors.

A phone call from Dyllon later and I was out in the pouring rain, with an umbrella, to give him one of my bottles of brandy, my birthday gift to Charlotte.

He looked like a drowned rat standing there, but he said he was determined to make the day “special” for his mother.

As the brandy took effect, the noise levels from next door got progressively louder. It went on and on and on, into the night and the wee hours of Thursday morning. When I finally awoke after only a few hours’ shut-eye, I felt like it had been me partying the night away.

But, and here’s the thing, the noisy antics of my neighbours warmed my heart. They reminded me that, no matter what, we South Africans know how to maak ’n plan.

And, in this time of crisis, it is exactly that spirit that will enable us get through.

Next year, when Covid-19 is behind us, I hope I crack an invitation to her next birthday celebration …

Guy Hawthorne.

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