I am GATVOL!
For those of you less familiar with South African lingo… “Gatvol” is pronounced with plenty of grit in the back of your throat and it means you are fed up, or rather… beyond fed up!
A state that I think pretty much our whole country resonates with right about now.
One of our more popular radio stations lost one of their presenters a few years ago because of censorship - And probably a basket of other reasons! I stand to be corrected on this, as whilst I caught his show every other day, I was never an avid follower of the station… Either way, Gareth started his own online channel called “Cliff Central”. He is well known for being particularly candid and after recently writing an open letter to the president of our country, he has received both salutation and relative push back.
If you are not already aware – we have been pressed into one of the strictest (and most ridiculous) lockdowns in the world. Our government is clearly operating with an ulterior agenda which is about as discreet as a dog licking it’s balls in public, our police force are on an ego trip that would put Kanye West to shame and the levels of nepotism that continue to unfold, despite the shower having lost it’s head are enough to make anyone gag!
For the sake of clarity and perspective… here is Gareth’s open letter to president Cyril Ramaphosa…
Dear President Ramaphosa,
I’m going to keep this brief, because I know you’re dealing with a lot:
We’ve all been ready to support you and your administration in your efforts to save lives from this pandemic. Even people like me, who have questioned the idea of a lockdown as the best response have decided to comply and do whatever we could to help. We set aside our concerns over the heavy-handedness of the police and army; we swallowed and accepted that poor people in informal housing would be crammed into their one-room dwellings for a month; we limited our trips to the shops and even accepted not being able to buy hot food (for whatever inexplicable reason).
When you couldn’t put your mask on we laughed and we were charmed to see that you were able to laugh at yourself too. For a time you won everyone over again. You yourself have said that it has taken much for people to give up their liberties, their right to be with family and friends and the ability to move freely around. Our patience and emotional state of affairs are on a knife-edge. We are losing hope.
Governments walk a fine line in times like these, where the regulations not only have to make sense, but also have to have significant buy-in from the public – otherwise people will break them, in big ways and small. South Africans are mostly compliant – but when you promise something and then break that promise, it makes us feel like we should break your regulations in return.
Many of us aren’t afraid of the virus anymore. It’s our health and we’ll take our chances, thank you. We ARE afraid of the havoc your lockdown is wreaking on the economy, on people’s lives and livelihoods. I see fewer and fewer explanations from ministers and more and more capricious, some would say spiteful, regulation. I’m not a smoker – I don’t like cigarettes at all – but when Minister Dlamini-Zuma announced that she was (after a consultation none of us believe happened) going to keep the ban on tobacco products in place, many of us (even the non-smokers) were ready to give her the middle finger – and start risking breaking the rules. There are more of us than there are police officers and soldiers, so if you piss enough people off, things get very hairy. I’m sure those advisers in the security cluster have mentioned that they can’t shoot us all or put us all in jail.
Your government, Sir, have not covered themselves in glory over the last 10 years. Some people in this country already have a taste of anarchy, where municipalities are bankrupt and there is no service delivery. They see no evidence that the ANC will fix parastatals, cronyism, kleptocracy and for once and for all cease their childish flirtation with outdated and failed socialist ideas. Your hold on power depends on people willing to comply with the rules – the same rules they expect you to comply with. Our patience grows thin, and in tandem your tax collection runs dry. When you speak of a social compact, it goes both ways. You have to take your boot off our throats.
When Moses told Pharaoh to let his people go, Pharaoh didn’t listen and there were plagues. We all know how that story went for Pharaoh. You have to start letting our people go Mr President, or this plague will be the least of our worries. Even Moses could tell you that.
In my opinion a very straightforward and accurate representation of not only the situation, but also the way “WE” South Africans are feeling about it at this point in time – irrespective of where “WE” currently sit throughout all of this! For those of us (and there are plenty) that have the capacity as individuals to not only recognise that living in the current century is our only hope of successfully overcoming this as a country, but also, if we don’t actually stick together as ONE, we are undoubtedly going to grab the short stick from the stack… and mark my words, regret is far more taunting than fear. I have no doubt I will be labelled another “Karen” for this post, but you know what… I am ok with that – it wouldn’t be the first time this week that I have had that label slapped on my forehead by those that ironically have some obtuse objections to labels themselves…
Getting back to my point – today I stumbled upon a brief debate about Gareth’s letter – which included him on the panel. Here is the clip…
All I really have to say on the debate itself is – if you intend to attend one… for heaven’s sake, at the very least have your bloody ducks in some kind of line! You don’t go out into the world with your guns blazing when you have been living in a box for the past decade. All I saw was not a presenter/mediator, but an instigator and a participant who could not see past the bird shit that is stuck on their windscreen!
I take my hat off to Gareth for (as always) being completely candid and hitting the nail on the damn head that so often dodges the impact.
I am definitely a part of your referred “we” that was apparently so disgraceful Gareth… and I have no doubt that I do not stand alone in that perspective.
I sat outside this evening with my mom, discussing the shitfest that has become our current reality. I am a relentless fighter… giving up or even showing signs of such, is not something that comes easily to me - a family trait I reckon, but after days of trying to fight it and deny it’s presence, I finally reached a point of being stripped. I am depressed, demotivated and uninspired for pretty much anything and everything. Whatever hope I had has vapourised and the little glimmer of trust for our country that I clutched onto has simply been shattered… just as you said.
Everything in life is relative and I am so tired of witnessing the people of South Africa being seduced by the fiddle of historical hatred. I was never a part of all that… I was just a little girl! I had no say in any of it… and I am about to “celebrate” my 40th birthday. How is it then that people, like the (definitely younger than me) gent that attempted to debate with you, still hangs on to so much bitterness. That era of blame is getting very long in the tooth – people need to start taking ownership of their own failures… and I include myself in that statement because if we cannot (at the very least) do that… then we have much bigger fish to fry.
Much like you, like the majority of passionate South Africans, I too would like to see our beautiful country thrive. We sure are a resilient bunch – but we are also our own worst enemy.
We are torn and broken by our political leaders. Their heart is not ours… I sometimes wonder if any of them even have such, because they appear to have lost heart to wallet. They incite divide and breed hatred and we pander to their strings!!! They are no longer (if they ever were) an appropriate representation of the beautiful, talented, creative and colourful people of our country.
When will we learn and recognise that they are INTENTIONALLY dividing and shattering the power they KNOW we would have if we ever stood together as one!
Why are we so blind?!
We have a nation like NO OTHER – with unsurpassed talents in endless facets. The whole world knows it, but we squander it in exchange for bitterness, racism and petty power trips. Our government sells us off for a “quick buck” and at the end of the day we all end up emptier, unhappier and even more desperate.
If there was ever an opportunity for a country to have a collective voice – it is now!
Like I already said... regret is far more taunting that fear ever could be.
I am GATVOL! Gatvol of this lockdown, gatvol of our government (or lack thereof), gatvol of how easily manipulated we are into hating one another... just GATVOL!
Until next time...
Much Love from Cape Town, South Africa xxx
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