Last night, the president announced that the national lockdown would be extended for another two weeks. To be honest, I was expecting an extension to be announced at some point this week and I actually expected it to be for more than two weeks. I know there are some who are heaping criticism on Ramaphosa right now, because lockdown is most harsh on those who have the least and live in the worst conditions, but I think the reality we have to face is that those are the same people who would suffer the most if this virus really took hold in South Africa. I stay home for the people who don’t have access to decent sanitation and proper healthcare. He has the weight of a nation on his shoulders right now, and personally, I think our president has been doing a sterling job thus far.

But that doesn’t mean lockdown is easy. I’m curious to know what other people are relying on to make it through these difficult days (other than home-brewed pineapple beer, apparently) – what are the things you would stockpile if you could? These are my essentials:

  • Books – the only things I “stockpiled” before lockdown began were books and cat food. I mean, I have shelves of books I’ve already read that I could definitely reread if it came to it, but I gave myself a little buffer, first when I heard the libraries were closing due to social distancing rules, and then with another tiny purchase after lockdown was announced. After all, you don’t need to leave your home if you have books to read – you can go anywhere via their pages.
  • Music – it’s been quite cool to watch all the musicians out there find ways to bring their gigs to us, now that we can’t go to them in our masses. I’m sure it must be super weird to perform in a bit of a vacuum, without the usual cheering crowd, but I think my mental health would take a massive knock if I didn’t have a steady supply of online performances to watch (and support financially where applicable – we want these guys to survive this lockdown too!) It’s also been cool to do an occasional trawl through my albums or YouTube and find songs new songs or just have another listen to those I love.
  • Chocolate – so, before lockdown was announced, I was on another little no/less sugar kick in an effort to be more healthy, but I decided balls to that once my workload went through the roof and my stress levels went into overdrive. Could I survive lockdown without chocolate? Sure, and if it had been listed as non-essential, I wouldn’t be trying to find ways to make my own at home to get me through the dark days. But happily I don’t have to. (Apologies to all those missing their own vices in the form of booze and ciggies.)
  • DSTV – it’s quite funny, because for a very long time, I didn’t have DSTV. I only really needed it for sport (and by sport, I mean rugby), and I could watch that at the pub, or stream it if I couldn’t/didn’t want to go to the pub. When the World Cup rolled around last year, I finally did the math and realised that all my pub trips and streaming were probably costing me a lot more than the monthly premium, so I succumbed to the lure. I’m glad I did now, not because I obviously can’t go to the pub anymore, but because with the Super Rugby season suspended, they’ve been screening loads of old rugby games and I have been recording lots of them. I mean, LOTS. Literally, there was a point, when the Super Rugby season was first postponed, where I went through two weeks’ worth of upcoming programming and just hit record on anything that mentioned the Sharks or Springboks. And then I’d just randomly see the red recording light appear on my decoder without having any idea what it was actually recording. I don’t know when I thought I was going to watch it all, to be honest, so I’ve calmed down a bit now (panic recording is the new panic buying, apparently), but I don’t think I could survive without a regular rugby fix.
  • Data – none of us really want to admit how much time we spend on social media at the best of times, and I know most of us have a bit of a love hate relationship with that fickle beast. But without ample data, and social media, how would we enjoy all these livestreamed gigs? How would we keep connected to our people, and the outside world? We’re probably all spending stupid amounts of money on data right now, but in this instance, for me anyway, it’s worth it. Although, let’s face it, the service providers must be smiling – assuming people can still pay their bills, they’ll be one of the few industries turning a profit (Please don’t come at me with any conspiracy theories or 5G bullshit, I will end you). Given that they’re likely making money hand over fist, it was cool to hear last night that Vodacom has donated 20,000 phones to field workers on the frontline of testing for the virus.

I guess those are my “stockpile” essentials. There are a lot more things (and, more importantly, people) that I am grateful for on a daily basis, so perhaps I’ll do a post about that in the coming days.