From the article: “I returned to South Africa in December 2019, after a decade away which included a US PhD. My partner and I had planned to move into our home on 31 March 2020, but one of the strictest national lockdowns was announced of all the global roll-outs, and we were stranded. I have high-functioning Asperger’s syndrome and our temporary studio apartment was not an option. The thought of being “caged” as I experienced it, in a tiny flat from which one could barely see the sky had me holding my head and rocking in a corner in panic like a scene out of Rainman. For the first time in my life, I wondered if I might need to be institutionalised for my condition (and not for the first time, I reflected that were I born elsewhere in South Africa’s economic landscape, I probably would have been). By chance, the next day we met our “new” neighbour in the complex we were moving into. When she heard what had happened, with no questions asked and having known us for only a few minutes, she offered us the keys to her home. As she was living alone, she had decided to spend the lockdown with relatives. Within a few days, my mind put itself back together, my hands stopped bleeding from stress and I was able to return to my research. Our neighbour’s offer did not come from a desire for recognition, or praise. It was simply an example of what is locally – albeit in sometimes clichéd and tired ways – referred to as ubuntu: A belief in one another that is quietly holding South Africa together while we go through this process of dismantling and reconfiguration. “I am because you are”, is a lesson that many South Africans are internalising in completely new ways during the lockdown, and is what the Archive of Kindness that I have begun to compile aims to record. …”
Article reference: Auerbach, J. 2020. Micro kindnesses are laying the foundations for a transformed South Africa. The Daily Maverick.