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Saturday, May 28, 2022

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The gift that gives us goodness, time and time again

Published Apr 23, 2022


Kannie meer nie, korporaal.

The expression came from the loathsome era of conscription, but boy does it say it all. Far more descriptive than “I just can’t do this any more”.

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This little patch of parchment is meant to be a small beam of sunshine in gloomy times, but it seems to have had a big thundercloud parked over it for the last few weeks.

The couch is reeling: muddy-pawed, rain-damp and water-dry, dark and punch-drunk. There’s some damage, power and water are sketchy.

But we’re the lucky ones. We haven’t lost loved ones, sometimes many at the same time, or our homes and everything we own.

The couch has previously explored kindness and laughter as healing, anti-anxiety cure-alls, but along with the power and water, we’re almost out of medicinal mirth.

One thing we have in abundance is gratitude, another soul-saving state of mind. This terrible time should be a good reminder that while we whinge about not being able to flush and watch TV, this is what millions of South Africans face every day with little prospect of any improvement.

There’s been a lot of doom scrolling through Twitter to keep up with the various catastrophes in the world and in KZN.

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Fellow Saffers, in the country and around the world, have been liberal with kindness, prayers and support.

Also, some money and here we cue the twitterati. We can be very funny and creative.

And very very angry.

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Put them together and you get a caustic wit that would leave any other nation’s skells and looters with third-degree burns.

Minutes after the president declared the province a state of disaster and announced R1 billion for rebuilding, the memes and mockery began.

Pictures of blood-soaked hyenas (and a clan not bloodied, but looking mighty interested in what they could scavenge) were among the first to appear. Which is a bit of a shame, really, because hyenas in real life are quite capable of catching their own food and don’t only rely on feasting on the carcasses of others’ hard work.

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Then KZN Cogta appealed for donations, posting the relevant banking details, and Twitter erupted.

Mutiny followed. If it weren’t tragic it would be hilarious.

Tweeps scorned the government-sponsored appeals as the new gravy train/pigs’ trough/tender scam/Digital Vibes/PPE/Gumede gold rush.

A common thread-within-the-thread was one name: Gift of the Givers.

This NGO was founded by Dr Imtiaaz Sooliman in 1992, two years before our country’s first democratic elections.

In that same time, while the ANC-led government has established itself ‒ through ostentatious, outrageous and shameless example ‒ as the looter of the nation, the foundation has proved again and again to be the people’s saviour in times of hardship.

Donors ‒ from large corporates to the average Jo-Sephine ‒ are now channelling help via Gift of the Givers and government pleas are largely rebuffed. The twitterers plead with people to help #GoG (or other reputable charities) instead of gov to ensure the people who need the aid will get it. Many may have finally learned during Covid that there is no depth too low for the looters.

Sooliman and his people have not only given the nation aid: their selflessness, goodness and dedication have become a symbol for decent people that we can still “meer”.

  • Lindsay Slogrove is the news editor

The Independent on Saturday