If you’re new to this blog series and don’t know what’s happening with South Africa’s 21-day lockdown, my first post  has all the details. Or read all my lockdown posts.

It’s Day 8 — the second straight cold, rainy day of the lockdown in Joburg.

Clivias blooming on Day 8 of the South African lockdown
Beautiful clivias blooming in my garden. I’m not sure why they’re blooming now — they usually bloom in spring and it’s autumn here — but I’m not complaining.

I’ve decided not to break this journal down into a timeline anymore. There’s no longer much reason to recount every moment of my day, as my days are growing progressively similar. But my thoughts are still continually moving and changing.

Yesterday I never changed out of my pyjamas. I’m not going to lie — it felt pretty good. Today I’m wearing two sweaters, exercise tights, thick socks, and slippers.

I strained my achilles tendon (a chronic injury for me) while running around the house this morning. This is depressing — it’s getting harder and harder to find effective exercises to work around my many aches and pains. Ugh, old age. But my friend Julia, who is much younger and has a sore hip from running repeatedly in an awkward U shape around her own house, and I have decided exercising at home in weird repetitive ways must increase the risk of stress injuries. Are there any physios out there who’d like to comment on that hypothesis?

This morning I did a Zoom interview with two travel-blogger friends who are creating an online series of chats about COVID-19 and its impact on travel in South Africa. (I’ll share a link once the interview is released.)

The conversation got me thinking about my profession and how drastically it’s changed in the past two weeks, and how the world has drastically changed and will probably never be the same.

I thought about this planet’s massive army of passenger jets — tens of thousands strong — which served as insidious mass transporters of this invisible virus before the jets (mostly) stopped flying over the past few weeks. I thought about how I’ve chosen to live 8,000 miles away from my family for nearly a decade, reassuring myself with the mantra: If something bad happens I can always hop on a plane. I thought about my own sense of satisfaction each time I receive a new passport stamp.

I think this is all going to change now — maybe forever. It’s not good or bad, necessarily. It just is.

For today at least, I’m okay. I’m in my house, relatively warm now that I’ve cranked up the fireplace, watching the rain fall outside. I’ve moved my home office from the dining room table to the couch. The manic energy I had during the first few lockdown days has dissipated. I feel more peaceful.

I’m worried about my more extroverted friends, some of whom are really suffering from the solitude. (You know who you are, extroverted friends! I love you.) I hope we all make it through this somehow.

Today’s Worthy Cause

I’ve been feeling somber today, as you can tell. But right now I’m about to get excited.

Today I’m featuring one of my favorite worthy causes so far in this series: The #SpazaShopChallenge at African Accent in Katlehong.

Bongani Mabuza of African Accents Spaza Shop
Bongani Mabuza of the African Accent spaza shop. (Photo supplied by Bongani)

For those of you not in South Africa: Spaza shops are small community food shops/general dealers, usually located in townships and inner cities. Due to the country’s dreadful spacial planning during the apartheid era, low-income South Africans often live in far-flung communities (like Katlehong) without easy access to retail grocery stores. They depend on spaza shops for their daily food and other essentials. Fortunately most spaza shops are still open during the lockdown.

The other day I saw a post from my talented actress/filmmaker friend Nelisiwe, a.k.a. Mama Nells (check out Mama Nells’ work with Ofentse Mwase Films — she’s freaking hilarious), imploring people to donate money to spaza shop owners. These shop owners are uniquely well positioned to help people in their own communities.

I asked Nells who she’s donating to, and she told me about Bongani.

Bongani's shop in Katlehong
How beautiful is Bongani’s shop? I can’t wait to go there myself after the lockdown ends. (Photo supplied by Bongani)

Bongani has started a #SpazaShopChallenge, in which people donate money in R150 increments and he uses each donation to create a food/supply pack for a family in need.

Space Shop challenge food pack
A #SpazaShopChallenge food pack. It includes maize meal, canned fish, cooking oil, soup mix, milk, tea, sugar, soap, household cleaners, toilet paper, candles (for frequent power outages), and toothpaste.

Bongani is aiming to support 100 families with these packs during the lockdown. He has currently raised enough to reach 44 families.

I donated enough money for three packs. Bongani gave away the first batch yesterday and today, and sent me this photo.


For those in America and Europe: At the current abysmal rand-dollar exchange rate, R150 is about $8. EIGHT DOLLARS! If there were ever a time to make your dollars/euros go a long way to help people in need, it’s now.

Please donate to the #SpazaShopChallenge if you possibly can using the bank details below. If you live overseas, please contact me privately to donate. You can send the money to me via PayPal and I’ll transfer it directly to Bongani.

Account name: Bongani Mabuza
Bank: FNB
Account type: Cheque
Branch code: 250655
Account number: 62498922783
Reference: SpazaShopChallenge
Phone number: +27-72-517-0829

Stay safe and dry out there. Happy Friday.

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