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THE LIVING YEARS
Eckaard Le Roux
13 April 2020

On 9 April 2020 the President of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa extended the nationwide lockdown by a further two weeks until the end of April. In making this announcement he said that the message of Easter is one of hope, of recovery and of rebirth and that this is the message we must carry in our hearts.

When he delivered his Easter message on Good Friday he added that Easter reminds us of the greatest virtue of all and that is the virtue of sacrifice. It is worthwhile to once again listen to what he said:

“As we recall and recount the life of Christ on Good Friday we also remember the greatest virtue of all and that is the virtue of sacrifice. Despite the heavy burden that has been placed on our people over the past two weeks we have understood that for the greater good these sacrifices have to be made. Our people have endured the extreme restrictions on their daily lives with patience and fortitude. As Christians, the believe that Christ gave his life as a ransom for humankind, is the most fundamental tenant of faith. Today many Christians around the world recite the way of the cross, remembering the pain Christ suffered. This meditation on deprivation and adversity is a reminder that throughout history as they face daily life every human being upon this earth has had their own cross to bear. The coronavirus pandemic is a heavy cross being carried on the shoulders of all of humankind. At the moment rich and poor, young and old, black and white, men and women are suffering under its weight in one form or another. But the message of Easter is also one of hope, of recovery, of triumph and of rebirth. ……….

 In the true spirit of Christian fellowship you have extended a hand the poor to the sick and to the hungry. You have continued to pray for those who are in the frontline of fighting this virus and you have also continued to pray for some of us who are in leadership positions. A few days ago Archbishop Muhabba prayed for me as president over the telephone and I felt comforted, strengthened and encouraged by that prayer.

The Pastoral and charity work by our Christian community has been a lifeline for many of our people in the hour of need, and a comfort in their time of sorrow. On behalf of all the people of South Africa I do thank you. As we are reminded in the Scriptures: “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy and Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”.

We have a long and difficult journey before us. If we are to emerge victorious we must remain vigilant. We have to continue to comply with the restrictions that are so necessary to preserve human life in our country. We have to take the greatest of care of our own health and the health of those around us. We have to expend our every effort and energy to ensure that this period of hardship does not believe our economy in greens.

We have to give support to those who need our help in any way that we can. I call upon each of all of us to make a donation in the form of time, the form of helping, the form of even finance, no matter how small. I call upon you to continue to help your friends, your neighbours and those who you do not even know through acts of kindness and charity that you can perform each day. This is a time of great trial for our country. We will at times find ourselves and our faith sorely tested, yet we know that the harshest of tests pushes us to preserve, to persevere and to prevail. Working together side-by-side we will weather the storm and we shall indeed overcome. Humanity will rise again and I wish you all good health and good spirit. May the Easter message unite us, nourish us and give us strength in the days ahead. May God bless our people, protect them and preserve them. May he continue to hold us in the palm of his hand. I thank you.”

We cannot but agree with and support the sentiments expressed by our President. After all, is the golden rule of ubuntu not “I am who I am because of who we all are” which in the Western world translates to: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Therefore lets be particularly kind to our loved ones and to others, especially to the poor and those who have become invisible to us and let us tell them we love them.

It was Mike Rutherford of Mike and the Mechanics and he Scottish songwriter B A Robertson who wrote a song, describing the strained relationship between a son and his father. After his father dies, the son understands for the first time that he and his dad had a much stronger bond than he ever realised, and he regrets not telling his farther before he died:

I wasn’t there that morning

When my Father passed away

I didn’t get to tell him

All the things I had to say

 

I think I caught his spirit

Later that same year

I’m sure I heard his echo

In my baby’s new born tears

I just wish I could have told him in the living years

 

But now on a lighter note. There is also some good news! It is now official!! The services rendered by the (mythological) Easter Bunny, the Tooth fairy and even Santa Claus and his Elves (however, in their case, provisionally only and God forbid that this actually becomes necessary!), have now been included in the COVID-19 Regulations as “essential services”. This means that they are allowed during the lockdown period to leave their respective places of residence and travel to bring joy and magic to children (old and young) wherever they can be found.

The Minister of Basic Education, having received numerous representations,  mainly from disgruntled parents, concluded that children’s education will suffer significantly if these characters are not allowed to do what they have been doing for so many centuries and so many millennia with great success.

The Regulations have now been amended, making it possible for them with immediate effect (and just in time for Easter Monday) to move between provinces and between metropolitan and district areas without having to obtain permits from authorities. No registration as an “Essential Service Provider” with CIPC is necessary but all essential workers employed by them must carry either Easter eggs, or coins (as the case may be) with them, thereby proving that they have been duly authorised and equipped to do their work. They are however still prohibited from attending or convening gatherings. Air travel is allowed but aeroplanes may not be used and even national borders have been opened for them.

In order to achieve its purpose, Easter eggs have now also been declared as “essential goods” which allow bunnies and mice to deliver their goods at various hotspots where children can participate in egg hunts, egg decorating, egg catching and even egg rolling (if a proper downhill is available). Parents are encouraged not to be stingy and to spend freely on buying these essential goods for their children, their grandparents and even for themselves.

Trade unions representing Easter bunnies and Tooth fairies welcomed the decision but on condition that over time is paid in accordance with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. The umbrella trade union representing Santa Claus and his elves (The Order of Benevolent Santa Claus Unions and Rejuvenated Elves (OBSCURE)) issued a short statement saying that it is early days yet and they will officially comment if and when it becomes necessary to do so.

Happy Easter and stay safe!

Eckaard Le Roux