Lockdown Level 2, alleluia!
Obviously, the first major excitement was about ciggies and booze. Not that anyone I know stopped sourcing illegal alcohol and cigarettes during lockdown, they just paid a SHITLOAD of cash for it.
Special shoutout to the homeless guy in Parktown North who made a KILLING on illegal ciggies during this time and the restaurants that served TEA. Beyond the drinks and the smokes, people were most excited about the local tourism scene opening up.
The Sunday morning after, everyone was merrily tweeting about Places To Go in Cape Town and one of the major discussion points was “are black people welcome there?”
I shit you not.
That we should even be asking that question in South Africa in 2020 is a problem, my fellow South Africans.
My parents had a lot of issues, but one thing I’m exceptionally grateful for is how I was raised to treat other people.
The K word was never used in my home – and let’s not bullshit each other, that was pretty unusual in 1970s white suburban Rhodesia. I heard that word regularly at other people’s houses and I knew it was WRONG. Perhaps my father thought back to his own experiences – his father (my grandpa) was in charge of giving land back to the Irish in their area in the 1920s after British occupation, and my dad worked in England as a young man when there was the whole “No blacks, no Jews, no dogs, no Irish” vibe.
I’m not sure if that made him more aware of racism? But I do remember something that sticks in my mind. It happened when we went Overseas in 1979 as Rhodesia was on the cusp of independence and my parents decided to let their house. This was not a two-week trip – no, because it was so expensive, when we went Overseas, it was for three months (and we visited every Catholic Church in Rome. Every. Single. One. #justsaying).
The house was let to a black couple which as you can imagine created a bit of a sensation in our lily-white suburb. It was a black British woman married to a Zimbabwean guy who had obviously been in exile and was now returning. She was not enjoying being a new Makoti (daughter-in-law) and spent a lot of time pouring her heart out to my mom about how difficult she was finding the cultural differences. I think her name was Cynthia, I could be wrong, I just remember that she and my mom wrote to each other for a while afterwards.
But what stuck in my mind was that my parents airily dismissed any issues people raised about letting to Black People.
Why am I telling this story? Have I been at the wine? No. I think it illustrates how racism is passed down, and that’s why the system carries on. Rather bequeath some nice furniture to your kids, don’t turn them into little racists.
It should also be mentioned that my father was famously tight with money, I’m talking legendary Scrooge tendencies. If he had not been prepared to let his house to black people, he would’ve missed out on the large lump of cash they paid him. That would’ve been dumb. I would like people to act out of kindness and basic human decency, but if that doesn’t convince you, let me remind everyone that we live in a black country where over 90% of the population is black. If you are not tapping into that market, you are a kak businessperson.
Don’t be an asshole, don’t be a kak businessperson, make black people feel welcome at your establishments. I felt ashamed when I read the tweets of Twitter friends saying things like “I always just say in an email that I’m black to make sure it’s okay”. Imagine getting to a place, all excited about being on holiday and then finding out you’re not welcome? Imagine kids – LITTLE KIDS – not understanding why these people are being mean to them?
No. Just no.
The same applies to LGBTQIA+ visitors. And yes, I had to Google that, I still get the order of the letters wrong, and can’t remember what they all mean but I’m trying (read here if you’re confused: https://bestlifeonline.com/what-lgbtqia-means/). Point is, make everyone feel welcome!
But she’s supposed to be talking about books and writing and stuff like that, why is she talking about holiday places?
Let me tell you a little story…
‘Twas the night before lockdown and all was quiet in the house, when the husband, clearly shocked shoved his phone under my nose, “Read this.” He said. It was a letter from the parent company in the US cancelling his contract as MD of the company and telling him they were pulling out of South Africa. The world was so upside down at that point, I couldn’t even feel scared, I felt fatalistic. I kept saying “it’s out of our control” until he probably wanted to throw something at me. But that’s how I felt. What could we do? Like so many others who lost their jobs, we would just have to find a way to survive.
My domestic worker was also sick at the time and had to go into hospital and I kept having these terrible nightmares that she would get Covid and would die and I would have to break the news to her daughter (she was fine. It was something else. I was being a drama queen. Thank you, Doctor Sindi from Twitter, for calming me down.) All-in-all it was not a fun time.
Then we found out that the parent company were pulling out but were giving control of the company to the husband. However, this was a bit of a poisonous chalice as at this point the company had zero income (and has had zero income for the last five months). Still, it was a helluva lot better than being told that the husband was out of a job with immediate effect. It was then I started chanting “Do you know the Chinese character for crisis and opportunity is same-same, like Jacob Zuma’s fingers?” until the husband DID start throwing things at me (and for the record, I am not sure if that is even true.)
The upshot of all of this is that we now have a company that we subsequently rebranded called GO.SEE.DO.MEDIA.
I have been writing this blog for almost a year now and I have had a rapid promotion from book blogger and social media whore to director. The salary remains the same (Zero. I get paid in kind. Luckily, the MD is hot) but the title is much fancier.
What the hell do I know about tourism? Oddly enough my family is involved with tourism, my sister worked in tourism for over thirty years, my BIL is the CEO of a safari company and my first job at the end of 1988 was in tourism. I was employed basically as a dancing girl at a theme park outside Pietermaritzburg called Safari World, and the husband was employed as a manager. We also owned a guesthouse in Melville for about seven years, so I do know one or two things about it.
But at GO.SEE.DO, our core business pre-Covid was only brochures.
They’re old school but they work. We have over 3500 sites around the country displaying visitor info. Yep, our brochure boards are up EVERYWHERE. But – keeping up with the times – the clever husband together with Mike the computer dude (contact him here: firstname.lastname@example.org) developed a contactless QR code option in case you are squeamish about touching brochures. Basically a virtual brochure board but showing all the info on your own digital device instead. If you would like to know more about our business, our contactless solution and virtual brochure boards, and you want to advertise with us or perhaps you’d like to host a brochure board (real or virtual) at your establishment, contact info@GoSeeDo.co.za.
We realise that everyone out there in the tourism and hospitality industry in South Africa is having a tough time, so if you have something you would like to promote – a guesthouse, a fun activity, a restaurant, whatever – please send it along and we will promote it on our website. We are not charging for advertising on our website or in our newsletter at the moment so get some free advertising while you can.
On this blog, I like to promote local films and TV shows, and books, books, books, and I am particularly interested in promoting work by women. So, if you have any holiday reads, memoirs, or books to do with conservation, wine, food, and tourism, get in touch. I don’t review stuff, but I do promote things that I love.
Our email address is: editor@GoSeeDo.co.za
If it’s anything to do with books or film and TV, mark it for my attention. Otherwise it’s for Kirsten.
Unfortunately, we are not able to offer anyone employment at this stage so please don’t send CVs.
Book recommendation for this week: Nothing. I have been struggling to read this week. I want to read something like The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. Something light and fun and life-affirming. Is there a South African version of this? And no, don’t tell me to write it. Eating a meal you’ve cooked yourself is never the same as eating one cooked by someone else.
Series recommendation for this week: still Broadchurch. Season 1 was a cracker, Season 2 was meh, Season 3 is fabulous.
Happy lockdown level 2! May the book launches start soon. xxx