Dealing with ‘it’

Dealing with ‘it’

It is a beautiful Tuesday morning, the last day of the second phase of the Covid-19-related lockdown. My neighbour is up there in his yard cleaning the pigsties as he does every morning, for the sounder of swine mean some kind of financial and nutritional return once they reach maturity. There is some effort one needs to put in to reap the rewards, there is just no law of nature that says anyone or any creature shall get sustenance without putting in effort in one or the other form.

Lockdown means that some of us are limited to the menial tasks, but they are still honourable efforts, even if it means one has to do the lazy teacher’s job on a daily basis. The children are at home, and some of us as parents are the only tutors available for the developing minds. We therefore chin on despite being unfamiliar with the new indoor environment, because some of us are actually meeting our children for the first time, having been preoccupied with our daily jobs and other commitments while they keep their teachers busy at school. There is no other way but to deal with the new broke world at home that comes in the wake of the Coronavirus ghost-ship.

In repeat: time adds up (for it is a progressive entity) in seconds that add up to minutes, the minutes that add up to form hours, the hours that add up to make a day, the day and its fellows become a week, the weeks turn into months, the months constitute a season, the seasons become parts of a year, the years become an era, the eras become history (his-story), and the life of man and life on earth goes on in an endless continuum towards that vague point of argument many choose to call progress, civilisation, or, if one may say clearer words in the tongue of the mundane and the common; humanity is over time striving towards an elusive sense of refinement.

The current year means that the claims mankind goes by with regard to the management of time have been removed. We had been progressing towards a more refined expression of character as wished by those that came before us. We had dismally failed at progress before the advent of the plague as evidenced by the widening gap between the rich and the poor, the increasing unemployment, endless war and strife in different parts of the world and other negative and undesirable elements of the human character. The virus outbreak could well prove to be a blessing in disguise, for forced to limited movement; we now have more time to reflect on what the next step is going to be with regard to global human progress.

The flu outbreak has forced us to adopt a more peaceable, more communal, more cooperative sense of interaction with fellow human beings and the other peripheral citizens of the earthen and earthly environs. Time is always at the head of every new plan, and we have it in barrels this time around. What shall count is what we shall do with it, and fortune shall favour those that listened to the global call to limit movement. Limited movement affords us the opportunity to think and look inwards to reflect and to introspect.

This simple spin of the wheel of progress as has been brought by the Coronavirus is what the wise Ecclesiast saw in its full expansive reality. So clear was his revelation of the true futility and pleasure of the nature of time that he declared in chapter 3 verse 15 of his 12 Ecclesiastes: “That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been…” as aforesaid, dealing with a plague or drought is nothing new to humanity, and no disease outbreak has ever gotten to the point where it threatened humanity with extinction. We have always managed to pull through and come out better on the other side of the storm. This time around, it shall be the same and we will have but forgotten by the time the next tide comes along.

Time passes, and things associated with it too come to pass to form part of the past. As Virgil puts it in his Georgics ‘Tempus fugit (Time flies)’, and a humanity that chooses to ignore the reality of its steady progress sooner than later discovers that they are living in the latter days when they thought their first era had just begun. We have no confirmed case yet in this country, and one would think that we would all use our time re-arranging our scatteredness into something presentable instead of having to listen to selfish political battles and regime changes.

Those ones busy trying to ensure the safety of their seat in parliament do not realise one simple fact; your hypocrisy is coming to the light as a poisoned rat often does when the pain of the poison gets too heavy in the belly. There was never any sense of patriotism in the political class of Lesotho, self-interest has been steadily increasing since the coup that saw Morena Leabua Jonathan lose power in 1986. Now is the most convenient time to get the messed up political scenario in order.

It has become clear as a mole on a flea’s behind that the political class in this country largely focus on the self rather than on the needs and interests of those poor citizens that vote them into power. Autocratic and self-serving, the political governance in Lesotho has dismally failed to the extent that talk about monarchical rule is presented as an alternative. It may not be bad after all to be ruled by the king once again. The smart alecs in parliament have done nothing to see the progress of the state become a reality, only the ideals and the opinions of the political class have formed the mainstay of the discussions since 1986.  

This world has places against whose names is attached a strange expression, “the people that time forgot,” and these places are often those whose progress does not match the global trends of the moment economically, socially and otherwise. These are countries where the rich ‘tourists’ from the first world come to view life at its most ‘primitive’ and ‘simple’. We the aboriginal natives of this netherworld grin with glee when a picture of our backward selves is taken by a passing tourist for publication for profit in some first world magazine.

We live in such a country, and we got forgot by time whilst we preened as felines do at our educational achievements, and time fleeted away. We therefore find ourselves at odds with the laws, rules, and regulations related to the control of the Covid-19 pandemic. The need to be seen has taken over common sense and we gather in droves at shopping malls and centres despite the incessant call to observe social distancing. Coronavirus has for the moment given us temporary repose, we should take advantage of this and move towards a more progressive approach when it comes to dealing with familial, communal, societal, and national issues. The dilly-dallying for the sake of being heard and heard on national radio and television shall not serve us beneficially in the long run. And we cannot at this point in time rest assured on the assumption that the virus shall not come our way.

Humility is the first step toward time management. The pompous tend to arrive late as a sign of status (I think), or they may be just hooked on the sight of their plump selves in the eyes of swooning fans standing behind the cordons whilst they saunter or strut on the red carpet. Lateness for these kinds of figures may therefore be just a deliberate act; a peacock’s strut and not a necessary aspect.

Over these COVID-19 holidays, I met bigger men than my humble self, and I was rewarded for arriving on time; it is the basic rule of every kind of business to arrive on time if you are the kind of individual that believes in striking the hammer while the iron is hot. Punctuality affords one the comfort of changing or modifying decisions that affect the amount of work being done or discussed at the table.

I never really thought of time until I started to paint professionally for, under normal circumstances, paint dries in its own time, and the only way it can dry according to your wish is if you arrive early enough to start. Arriving late often means that the paintjob will not be dry to allow for the client to move freely in their own house. One has to be ahead of time to give the finished paintwork enough time to dry to allow for the homeowner to sleep in their own quarters.

Humility begets punctuality which gets comfort which gets the next point of discussion; resilience, which in brief means being able to deal with varying or different kinds of situations, individuals, and challenges that may present themselves in the course of an ordinary day at work or over an extended period of time. The versatile are always on time because where others see problems that cannot be solved, they scout the immediate vicinity of the problem to find the solution for the immediate problem.

An old late friend of mine once gave this piece of advice to me, “where tools to finish a job be lacking, make your own and use them… but make sure to stay within the basic rule to avoid disappointment later!” Senegal and Madagascar have taken his advice to heart and have found success in their fight against the virus because their lack of tools was never a deterrent but an inspiration to make them out of whatever materials they find.

Resilience offers new dimensions of practical thought; it gave the man stuck in the middle of the desert because of a torn fan-belt the wisdom to know that his wife’s pantyhose could do the fan-belt’s job long enough to get them to a service station where their car could be fixed whilst they waited in the shade with daiquiris in their hands.

The proud politicians are often obstinate in their opinions and acts, and they would rather fail a thousand times when they could get the true answer from a fellow human being close by.

Experience has taught me that even the most simple minds are good enough to show one the right way to carry out the needed task. The truth of the matter is that one need not be proud of who they are when it comes to dealing with the world, for the citizens of the world have their own kinds of understanding on the functioning of the world which may turn out really helpful if one is humble enough to ask for it. Recent encounters over these COVID-19 holidays revealed to me the fact that; the deepest kind of knowledge belongs to those that are in constant touch with the problem or the issue being dealt with, this granted by the virtue of their constant proximity to the source of the problem or the issue that needs to be tackled.
The wise one always asks for directions and follows them as guided by the guardians of the territory they just entered, this done in order that they finish their journey within time or before time. The obstinate one thinks to carve their own path regardless of the glaring reality in prevailing circumstances that are in the contrary to closely held notions. The smart leader is one that follows existing roads to get to their destination quicker than the stubborn one who gets stuck to the man in the mirror.

We cannot hope to win the battle against the Coronavirus if the leadership dilly dallies on a daily basis, hopping from one plan to the next like kangaroos in search of an elusive waterhole in the deserts of Australia. Staying ahead of time first means that one should be humble enough to acknowledge the full impact of the prevailing circumstances rather than obeying long-held visions about what reality should be like. African time is the result of the obstinate local wanting to prove a point, and the only point proven so far is regression, regression, and regression.

We do not progress as a continent because we hold the false notion that tide and time wait for man. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is waking up to the reality that one cannot pause time, for it runs at a heartbeat for those that respect it and soon fleets away if one ignores the reality of the ticking of the clocks on the walls.

The political fool thinks they can buy time, but only bread can be bought for a coin: not life as the reverend Bob Marley said to his son at the point of death. Time maintains its constant ticking and tocking and does not care how we use it. It only demands that we respect it as we should, by using it wisely and striving to always be ahead of time. The current outbreak only proves that our attitudes have always been wrong with regard to the issue of time and response. We should change for the sake of our global survival.

Tšepiso S. Mothibi

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