Monday in Grahamstown
Well, I got that horribly wrong. Two weeks ago (Day 4 Lockdown) I predicted +40,000 Covid-19 cases in South Africa by Day 21. Easter Monday is Day 18 and only 2,173 cases have been reported. Good job I wasn’t at the roulette table.
Lockdown has clearly worked. Well done Cyril. The cynics may say not enough testing but how does one account for near-empty hospitals that are battle-ready for a flood of life-threatening Covid-19 cases?
Lockdown – and other measures such as tracking of contacts with infected persons – is chiefly about controlling the impact of the virus on hospitals.
What makes this “Best in Class” performance by South Africa on Covid-19 more startling is the particular (or peculiar) variety of Lockdown and social distancing practiced in South Africa. Relatively few are able to self-isolate in a manner comparable with the UK etc but the manner of shopping – as our only social engagement – is mystifying.
Queues snaking out the doors. Patrons barely a metre apart. Face-masks a rarity. Management and staff unphased by the fuss. If Covid-19 is out there to catch, then a fair fraction of the population of Grahamstown should have it already and Settlers Hospital would be full to capacity. Yet, I’m aware of only one case in Grahamstown. Another positive test reported but that person lives in Paterson, half-way to Port Elizabeth.
Perhaps Covid-19 simply doesn’t enjoy conditions in South Africa and Grahamstown. Hot weather, BCG vaccination policy etc etc. Point is, how is another 2 weeks of Lockdown going to help? We will likely be in a similar health state but in a grotesquely worse economic state.
Government is apparently planning for a September peak. I beg your pardon? How’s that going to work? The inevitable is being postponed. I have no problem sacrificing the capitalist economy to save people’s lives but I hope those government models have some sort of “cost per life saved” built into them.
Covid-19 is going to be with us for the duration of 2020. Let that sink in. I’ll close by sharing how i think it will play out and some steps we as a community should take.
Modified / relaxed Lockdown and social distancing protocols will unfold. Herd immunity (+-60% of population) must be attained before “normal” social engagement can commence so a fair way to go before learners are released from captivity and hanging all over each other on campus.
However, for starters, the ban on smokes and booze will be lifted. If not, government will get it in the neck from all quarters. Riots, thriving black market, lost tax revenue, and Constitutional Court challenges.
Next up will likely be local Lockdowns with travel restrictions. Grahamstown provides the perfect example. There are 4 access roads into Grahamstown. Strict access control will be applied but, aside from regulations on gatherings, locals will be largely left to self-regulate their social engagement.

Key issue is the need to get out our homes, have some outdoor fun and fire up the economy. Perhaps an opportunity to start a new economy, or at least new industries and businesses within the post-Covid-19 economy. The Grahamstown Project is pursuing this course of action as we Covid-19-adapt our social business. The Khanya Trade School is on hold. Thanks to Khanya the trainees continue to receive their learnership allowances during Lockdown.

The inaugural Eastern Cape Golf Tour (in collaboration with Rhodes Golf Club) is set for 7th – 10th May 2020. Tourism may be on a Covid-19 hospital bed but locals are champing at the bit to get out and play some of the finest golf courses in SA. We’re also offering discounted Vouchers on a variety of tours including an overnight Kayak adventure up the Kowie with Beckmanns Tours & Safaris. For details please look at our website or email Thank you Robyn Cooper and Cheryl Fischer for your support.

While you on our website have a look at Buck in a Box. A new TGP venture in partnership with the Farm Butchery in Bedford and Adelaide. East Cape Lamb, healthy Springbok, biltong etc etc. Home deliveries to Sandton / Bryanston area and Grahamstown / Port Alfred / Kenton. Your support appreciated and if you Locking Down in Tuscon, Arizona then buy an old friend in Grahamstown a pack of delicious droewors!
That’s it folks. Stay safe and look after your mental health during Lockdown. Our gardener will be mightily impressed when he returns from Lockdown Leave but I need a Tall Glass of Cold Beer soon.


Before moving back to Grahamstown in Oct 2017, Graeme was a bank executive based in the big smoke and craziness of Joburg. He has 20 years’ experience in the Payments Industry. He is a Chartered Accountant, has a Masters in Management by Research (MMR) from Wits Business School, and attended an Advanced Management Programme (AMP) offered by INSEAD (The Business School for the World!) in France.  

Graeme is the founder of The Grahamstown Project. It’s simple. He says, “Grahamstown is a microcosm of South Africa. If we can’t get this place to function properly then the whole country is stuffed. Many of the troubles we experience as a country today have their roots here in Grahamstown. it is here where black and white people first engaged in conflict on the African continent. It is here where 9 wars of dispossession over 100 years took place and virtually destroyed the amaXhosa nation. But we are where we are. I don’t have a British passport and the boat-trip back to where my ancestors came from is exorbitantly expensive. Furthermore, this is my home. I am a son of Africa. We must work together to redress the injustices of the past and move as one into a brighter future.”

Graeme is an avid historian, writer, vlogger and public speaker. Like and follow the Facebook page. Join him on a tour. Contact him. He would love that.