By Paul Mabote
It is not something that is set to happen in the future, No; it is happening right now! The heavy and resonating blow from the Covid-19 (Corona Virus) pandemic has essentially turned the civilised world into the plot of a scary, apocalyptic sci-fi movie; only it is not a movie, it is as real as it could ever get.
To date, South Africa has recorded over 900 confirmed cases of the highly contagious Coronavirus and as per the strict directive of President Cyril Ramaphosa, the country will go on an unprecedented 21-day lock-down period from 27th March. This is a tough period during which citizens are urged to remain at home to help manage the spread of the virus, which has already claimed thousands of lives in other parts of the world. Naturally, this will have a devastating impact on the lives of many South Africans, as it is not only their health and lives that will be put under threat but also their precious livelihoods.
ACTIVATE’s Youth Economic Participation sector, led by Nathacia Olivier, went out into the corridors of Twitter on 25th March, to engage young South Africans on the gravity of the situation. The planned Twitter engagement was facilitated by YEP Champion Shepherd Masondo and served as an essential platform for the youth to voice out their thoughts on the practical and economic implications of the Coronavirus crisis in South Africa.
@Paris_Makaringe tweeted: “The nation-wide lock-down for 21 days was the first important measure that government should have taken, it was long overdue and the delays to that (caused) huge problems. The country’s fighting chance (now) against the new Coronavirus is social-distancing and cautious behaviour.”
The facilitator asked, how the situation will impact young people’s search for business and employment opportunities? To which Phathuxolo Ndzimande replied, “We are already struggling. (My own) business is starting to get hit by the effects of the Covid-19 virus. Churches have canceled their orders for branded T-shirts, caps and blazers as a result of the 21-day lock-down.”
@TshehlaNkhi tweeted, “My (biggest) concern about this lock-down is food. Some or most of us live by hand to mouth type of jobs and truthfully we do not know how things will turn out after the 21 days.”
Sandile David Mlangeni tweeted, “Another point to ponder (is that) most small businesses in the fashion line usually get their stock from Asia and Europe. It is high time we support our local manufacturers.”
@IntrospectiveSA talked on the issue of communication, “I think it would be ideal if the government could provide us with some sort of way to communicate on the internet for free, like how they gave us a free website to keep up with the Coronavirus status in the country, so as to maintain calm and unity.”
The Twitter engagement lasted for two hours and featured the dynamic voices of many young people, including Youth Capital, another prominent organisation in the space of youth development.
YEP Sector Coordinator Nathacia Olivier said that the engagement achieved over 300 000 impressions (eyeballs on the content) and reached over 50 000 people, peaking in the 2 hours of the chat and solely on the hashtag #YouthVoicesOnCovid19.”
The message is to stay safe, stay healthy, and continuously look for ways to keep your hustle cap on during this trying, history-making period. Harambe!
Paul Mabote is a member of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Network, a writer, a creative, a learner and observer.