The Lalatwo Surfers With Surf Boards

The Rain is Such a Blessing: Privilege during a Pandemic

“The rain is such a blessing,” claims Mrs Park, rather miffed that her family camping trip is cancelled by a heavy storm, but nonetheless appreciative for the fresh air. Meanwhile, the impoverished Kim family spends the night in a gymnasium after their entire home has been flooded by that very storm. This scene stuck out to me because of the way in which the privileged Parks interact with the world, and how disconnected they are with the reality experienced by those who are not afforded those same privileges. Of course, films are an exaggeration of society. However, there are always elements of truth in art, as can be seen in our current situation.


With the world in quarantine due to the novel COVID-19 outbreak, many things people have considered to be normal, such as eating at restaurants, going shopping or simply seeing friends and family have come to an abrupt halt. As President Ramaphosa said himself, “hugging, kissing and shaking hands is a thing of the past.” Consequently, there has been much contention as to whether or not places should begin to resume some level of “normalcy." However, what is normal in a situation like this? 


For some, normal means being able to walk their dogs along Seapoint Promenade at 6am in the morning, or even do yoga on the beach as one very passionate Muizenberg resident stated. For others, normal means being able to buy food and warm clothing without being harassed by police. As much as many would like to deny it, one cannot ignore the racial and classist undertones brought to light by the pandemic. Like the Parks in Bong’s blockbuster hit, people who lead privileged lives (that being, in a South African context, people living in affluent, majority White areas) are exhibiting the same level of disconnect with reality in that they are fighting for trivial things such as surfing and going out. Meanwhile, areas with populations of people of colour are being labelled “hotspots” for the virus and coercion by police is used when people are simply trying to get what they need. One cannot help but ask: how can people be wanting to go outside when we currently have close to 23,000 cases in South Africa alone? Do we really need to go outside that badly?


Based on research conducted in 2015, it was proven that those who went on regular walks for 50 minutes experienced lowered anxiety as well as improved cognitive functioning. While this is clearly beneficial, we are currently in exceptional circumstances. With 1240 cases of COVID-19 coming up today alone, even as a homebody myself, I can understand that it is frustrating to be forced to stay at home. That being said, if you have the ability to stay at home, you really should, instead of complaining about people who are only in massive queues for essential items. You can wait a little longer to go surfing or have that burger or do yoga on the beach. While the rain may be a blessing to you, the lives of the marginalised say otherwise. 


You can wait a little longer to surf. I promise.