An addict of sight lurks in the Covid night – this is 2020 South Africa through a lockdown lens
During South Africa’s initial three-week lockdown, I ventured out into the dark beyond with my Canon, sneaked into early nights and eerie dark nights before dawn and captured these images.
At the beginning of 2020, South Africa was befallen by more angst, and the grinding of teeth could be heard throughout the land.
To start with, our President was robbed of about $4-million, which he had concealed in the couches on his cattle ranch at Phala Phala near Bela-Bela.
Then the Covid pandemic flew in to spread its deadly tentacles nationwide. On 27 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a State of National Disaster and a total lockdown, a confinement of all citizens to their homes. From palaces to huts, from mansions to shacks, all were consigned to a jailed isolation. This internment, a national quarantine, affected us all in various ways.
Personally, as a traveller and a wanderer, I initially went through some mental wobbles, like an addict without drugs, like a drunkard without booze. I wandered around the house, smashing my fists against the wall, like in the movies. I kicked things, yelled obscenities and peered with bleary eyes over the fence into the road and prohibited territory.
Then, with a maddened tinge in my eyes, I started rummaging through the racks of oddities in my studio. Millions of old Zimbabwean dollar notes, bits of the Berlin Wall and rusted World War 1 bullets from the battlefields of the Somme.
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Then I found some frankincense crystals that I had bought in Yemen. When lit, the smoke has a heavenly perfumed aroma that was soon curling up from a plate on my desk. The smoke joined my illusionary thoughts of perhaps telling the Mother Mary that I was in trouble, if she wasn’t busy at the Vatican, or perhaps seeing Julia Roberts waving me a hand to come hither.
Through all this incense of delights, I heard Lynn yelling in the far distance that I was being an arsehole, acting worse than a naughty three-year-old, and not a mellow 73-year-old grandfather. What about a kiss and a cuddle, I breathed out warmly? She scowled and said I should go and play marbles or canasta. That’s when some spooky spirit entered me, almost miraculously, if I dare say so. I stroked my Canon’s body and revisited, visualised and pictured again a few of the many artefacts in our house.
With a spiked sobriety, I viewed and studied the beauty of line and shape, imagining what wonders a wand of light can do. Soon after, I followed the call of the naughty spooks and ventured out into the dark beyond, sneaked into early nights, midnights and eerie dark nights before dawn. I hid in the bushes when a police van passed, then followed my eyes along paths into the dark of the Afromontane forests that surround Nature’s Valley.
My powerful hunting torch of 10,000 lumens sprayed its light down our small village roads, moonlit rocks on the beach and logs that had washed down the river from the Tsitsikamma Mountains. Here are some of those images that I took over the three weeks of total lockdown in 2020.
This is an overkill, an excessive compulsion, for as fate would have it, I am an addict of sight. DM
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.
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