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Home » Coronavirus: How Orania has been affected by the disease

Coronavirus: How Orania has been affected by the disease

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Even in the most isolated part of the country, the fear surrounding coronavirus has set in. Residents of Orania are now living a very different reality.

As we sit within the confines of our homes, lockdown is making us yearn for the gift of time travel. What we’d give to go back – just by a few months – before our fears and anxieties regarding coronavirus manifested themselves. Well, the folks of Orania have managed it – because they’re living outside of the 21st century.

The whites-only Afrikaner enclave in the Northern Cape acts as its own entity. Turning its back on South Africa’s democratic project as apartheid came to an end, the clutch of citizens who still live in the town – an estimated 2 000 to 3 000 – still pay homage to the system that was labelled a “crime against humanity”.

Orania Coronavirus
The ‘Little Giant’ statue which looks over Orania is taking no chances.

But where, exactly, do they stand on the current coronavirus crisis? Are they following the rule of the land which engulfs and dwarfs their humble landscape, or do they simply follow their own advice? Well, in contrast to certain other policies in Orania, it’s not actually that black and white.

Orania vs coronavirus – how is the town dealing with it?

We know that they are observing social distancing, and they’ve been taking quarantine measures since the middle of March. Local sewing groups have stitched together masks that people are being asked to wear during the coronavirus crisis. They may have self-isolated from South Africa since the early 1990s, but they’re leaving nothing to chance in the face of a global pandemic.

Not many people leave Orania, and even fewer visit. Their base in the Northern Cape is one of the most remote in the land. But, ‘playing it safe’ is very much the mantra here. They have even manufactured some of their own hand sanitizers, treating the gravity of the situation with the respect it deserves.

They have published their own set of hygiene guidelines, very similar to those issued by the South African government. An emergency command centre – made up of the town board – provides regular updates on their preparedness to deal with coronavirus, and how the situation outside of their compound is developing. Gawie Snyman, Ronald Bain, Harry Theron and Frans de Klerk are named as the information-givers.

Those who have shut themselves away on ideological grounds, fearing an “outside threat”, perhaps never thought the biggest battle of their lives would be related to germ warfare. The communities within communities – such as elderly care facilities – also receive visits from singers and performers to lift their spirits during times of isolation.

Although there is no full lockdown, social restrictions are in place

Has there been a coronavirus case in Orania? No, just a scare…

“Virtual braais” and radio-streamed concerts make up for the lack of open-air activities on offer to the inhabitants of Orania. It hasn’t been all fun and games, though. The idyllic image this settlement likes to portray – against the backdrop of its controversial origins – suffered a slight wobble last week.

A statement shared on the town’s official Facebook page stated that one resident of Orania was showing symptoms of coronavirus. It’s claimed that they were privately tested while receiving medical treatment. The test came back negative. But the fear factor of COVID-19 remains in place.

An image showing a warehouse full of toilet paper unapologetically boasts about having one of South Africa’s most treasured commodoties by the pallet-full. Indeed, this desperation to prove something to the rest of the country runs deep.

A local community group posted this message on their social media channels over the weekend – Kim Jong-Un would be proud of this purposeful propaganda:

“The SAPS came to visit in Orania yesterday to check that everything is in order. Thanks to Oranian’s discipline, they found nothing that upset them. After the visit, Colonel Jooste said: ‘Thank you to the residents of Hopetown and Orania for your obedience. It goes bad in other towns and cities in the country. I love you all and I don’t want you to die.”

Life continues in the whites-only enclave

Work continues in the town: Binmen are seen wearing full hazmat suits and masks, whereas families are now learning how to cope with homeschooling. Pieter Krige, a community leader in this enclave, posts a photo of his two children beavering away at their studies.

It still remains anyone’s guess as to when “normal life” resumes – both within the gates of Orania and beyond – despite our tentative end-of-lockdown date of Thursday 16 April.

Business as unusual for Orania’s grafters

A small world comes full circle

Social distancing has always been Orania’s “thing” – but they are now faced with keeping themselves apart from each other, without having a say in the matter. It’s not business as usual here, nor is it anywhere in the world. And that’s perhaps a source of great humility for this unique, often-maligned town.

As much as Orania has tried to isolate itself, the world is too big of a place to stay shut-off from. Society isn’t exactly something you can opt in or out of. The looming threat of coronavirus casts a shadow over this region, and although it may only strengthen their resolve to hunker down and keep themselves in exile, one fact is inescapable: The enemy is not, and never will be, your fellow South African.

  • All photos were sourced from Orania’s social media pages.

Source: The South African Read More

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