Lockdown, Ubuntu and the birds

Lockdown, Ubuntu and the birds

APRIL 22, 2020

Written by Tracey Brand, Umduduzi Director and Palliative Care Medical Social Worker

One of my favourite pastimes is feeding the wild birds in our garden. I love watching them waiting for the feeders to be filled and once I’ve stepped back they all come in to eat. Finches, weavers, sparrows, manikins, doves and shrikes all sharing a meal with everyone getting a turn to have their full, all appearing to respect each other’s moment at the front. The air fills with their chirps as I imagine they’re sharing the story of their day. A true example of Ubuntu – compassion and community.

That’s is something that I’ve noticed during this time of lockdown, Ubuntu. We have lived in our home for 5 years and not once during that time have we seen our neighbours in the complex next door use their balconies or even speak to each other. As the lockdown days progressed this quickly changed; neighbours on their balconies sharing stories while having a drink and chatting for hours. This culminated in a fitness challenge on the weekend. Anyone who wanted to take part could. A course was set and individually they attempted it – social distancing observed the whole way through. Times were taken and winners congratulated. Even those that weren’t fitness freaks were on their balconies cheering the others on. The comraderie was something to behold. The celebrations and the conversation continued into the night until the rain chased everyone inside.

Isn’t it crazy that a deadly virus had to descend upon our country for Ubuntu to truly be realised? I feel that these guys have spoken to (and possibly gotten to know) each other more during this time than the entire time they have lived there. Will it continue after lockdown? I hope so. Will neighbourly behaviour and effectively Ubuntu remain in their minds as we go back to what will be our new normal? Only time will tell.

For now I am going to enjoy the birds feeding and the neighbours cheering highlighting that as South Africans we can come together in all our shapes, sizes, genders, religions and colours for the sake of each other.

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