South Africa’s Spirit of Ubuntu During Covid-19

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By Zinhle Geluk

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 3 of VARSITY News.


The current lockdown in South Africa, also occurring globally, is due to the Covid-19 pandemic. If there is one thing South Africans are outstanding at (apart from our meme culture), it is in showing unity and solidarity during times of crisis. This was displayed during the Cape Town drought of 2018 when the rest of the country stood in support by sending water from five litre bottles to boreholes. Even during this trying time people are coming together to help each other. Even though we are apart, the spirit of ubuntu never ceases. It is amazing to see how citizens are not solely relying on the government but have also taken up their agency to do good.


A group of women called Thembalethu in Mpumalanga makes amazing masks with Ndebele print patterns at no cost, but to give them to members of their community. Their motto, “Blessed is the hand that gives than the hand that receives”. Their initiative also highlights the lovely diversity of cultures/ethnic groups in South Africa and what the power of embracing these cultures can do.


The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent imposed lockdown has not only brought doom & gloom but has sparked some positive elements – one of them being that crime rates were reported to have had decreased by 75% during this time. One of the main reasons was the social shift that made people put their time to good use more than usual.


Another interesting case I found was a recent story of two rival gangs from Mannenburg in Cape Town that decided to put their differences aside and work with each other to distribute food parcels as well as other essentials to the residents of the area.


It warms my heart to see that no matter the storm, South Africans stand united. If we overcome this pandemic, it will not be solely because of hard working health workers and essential services workers, but because we took initiative to contribute in little ways to our respective communities. I pose a challenge: do a little something good during this time to show kindness (it doesn’t have to involve sharing resources).


A wise person once said: “Let’s have an ubuntu life – I am because you are”.



This section of VARSITY is a vehicle for expression on any topic by members of the UCT community. The opinions within this section are not necessarily those of the VARSITY collective or its advertisers.

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