COVID 19 lessons – Reflections

Everything in excess is opposed to nature – Hippocrates

Before the lockdown I used to swivel my seat from the vantage position at my desk, shift the drapes aside and nod my heard in affirmation.

I would be affirming a sound that I was used to hearing every evening before 1800 hours. It was the sound of the Tombs Scania bus from Kwekwe parking in the exit shed at the Border. This would be followed by sounds of pattering feet as the bus crew pressured the clients to rush into the hallway ahead of the next bus which normally would be Revival bus with its green liverie.

The rivalry banter of opposing bus crews , the belching abnormal trucks laboring under heavy loads would also permate the atmosphere. Everyday, every week the same scenario would occur and we would mark time with certain engine sounds.

Then lockdown happened. The buses went away with their pollution, the crews, the theatrics and drowning sounds.

Today I took a walk down the Border and was met with an eerie quietness. It was not silence, but a quiteness that made me to stop and suddenly hear sounds that I had not heard over a long time at this place.

Birds nestling in at Beitbridge Border Post – video by Nqobile Ncube

I heard birds singing, hundreds of birds swooping to land on trees to settle for the night. For years I realised these birds have always been here but our human activities drowned them out and our occupation blinded us from seeing them.

I recalled that few days ago I had snapped a photo of my totem brother sauntering around a telecomms digital box like an expert and I realise that with the thinned human presence on the ground, wildlife was beginning to boldly make multiple forays into the Border grounds.

The above two scenarios made me wonder if nature was not mocking us by asserting its presence in our time of difficulty. The players in the cited scenes ave always been there but we had no eye and ear for them.

We had been obsessed with our mechanical assets, mechanical sounds and schedules and we forgot the beauty and silence of nature.

As I walked away, I reflected that Covid19 had taught me to listen and pay attention to everything around us, the child crying for attention, a soul reaching out for help, someone needing a shoulder to cry on.

Covid19 has taught me to set aside time for more important things, my spiritual life, my personal relationships and myself.

I have learnt not to major on the excesses and be blind and deaf to reality to avoid a rude awakening. I agree with Hippocrates that everything done in excess is opposed to nature.

What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again.
Ecclesiastes 3:15 NLT



Zimbabwe @ 40 : Washing the paint brushes

Today I woke up to the memory of an incident that took place in 1982 when I was in first Grade. It was at Mafakela Primary School, Luveve, Bulawayo and it must have been a few weeks into the first term.

I do not know what brought the memory back but I remember I caused a huge consternation at the school, albeit innocently.

My teacher, Mrs BE Nyamambi, had assigned me and a group of girls to go and wash the art paint brushes after an art lesson and the girls led the way straight to the wash basins in the girls toilet. Yours truly followed and we started washing the brushes under running water in the was basins.

I remember we were then surrounded by so many girls raising a chant about a boy in the girls toilet and I did not even realise it was about me and my solidarity friends kept nonchalantly passing me the brushes to be rinsed under water and I obliged, not concerned about the growing crowd around us in the toilet. Childhood innocence!!

I think the storm abated when a senior prefect was brought in and after seeing our scenario, she ordered the crowd out and I think she helped us gather the brushes up and escorted us to our class. I don’t recall much after that but what I recall will suffice for today.

It is a painting lesson that got the brushes dirty and the realization that the next painting lesson would not take place under dirty brushes made our teacher to ensure that the brushes were cleaned.

The brushes might have painted masterpieces at that time but there was no value in leaving the paint on the brushes. It added no value but actually diminished the relevance of the brush. There with my story today.

Forty years after Independence my beautiful country has tried to paint a masterpiece. A dream masterpiece that was meant to come to life from the colonial portrait and become a gem where all rivers met and the grass never wilted. A masterpiece that was meant to be a great haven to all and sundry.

Then something like my paint class happened. The paint caked on the brushes and no one washed them. Instead they were used to try and paint mire pictures but because the brushes were caked not distinct art came forth. Blurred lines,smudges and undefined portraits came forth. Some brushes broke, some got lost and the paint diminished to a whitewash point.

All that would have saved this was running the paint brushes under running water regularly. The water would have breathed a new mileage to the brushes, given the bristles a sharp edge and the artists more zeal.

Running the brushes under water would have exposed the wear and tear and shown the need for replacement but one cannot assess wear and tear in a caked brush.

Running the water over the brushes would have taken the excuses away. A good painter will not blame a clean brush! But because the brushes smudged all excuses were there except to blame the painter.

Then many portraits later the picture did not tell our dream story. We had, and still have, an image that the current brushes cannot paint. Our dream picture needs us to return to the washbasins in innocent candor to nonchalantly strip away the caked paint so we can paint a clean clear portrait at our next turn.

We need to defy the remonstrating crowds and focus on the task at hand for we have a portrait to paint. A multicolor portrait that will bring the rainbow back.

We need to catch the rainbow. We need to paint a new picture. Happy Independence Day Zimbabwe. Let us gather your brushes and run them under the running water. In innocence.

Painted in a corner? You’ve but to look at your own hand to see who’s holding the paintbrush.
Laurie Buchanan, PhD