Lockdown Day 82!
Lockdown day 82! Greetings from Johannesburg South Africa. It’s hard to imagine that Sheila and I have been sheltering in place since March 17. On March 17, I arrived in South Africa after spending a month in the United States. The world is a completely different place! Since that time, South Africa put in place a level system for managing COVID-19. Having started at Level 5, we are now in Level 3. Level 3 allows for exercise between 6:00am and 6:00pm (daylight hours), the purchase of alcohol between Monday and Thursday, limited travel in the country with the necessary permits, day trips in National Parks and a return to school for some students. However, Sheila and I have decided its best that we remain in our house during this time.
Being stuck in your house for over three months has its challenges. Working from home is not the problem. It is when you finish working and you have nowhere to go that is the problem. So I attempted a lot of new hobbies. I tried to make cauliflower pizza…a traditional pizza…a mask to protect me when going out…and I baked a cake using a new recipe. Unfortunately, the cake stuck to the pan and wasn’t so pretty when I removed it.
Under Level 4 guidelines, which started on May 1, the government allowed exercising between 6:00am and 9:00am. After being stuck in the house for over a month, I decided to go for a run each morning just to get some fresh air. So far, I have run each day since May 1 and have covered 220 miles (as of June 16). I am very slow (very slow), but I am running a 10K in 1 hour and 30 minutes, a personal best for me. For those of you that run, I know that sound ridiculous but I have never run a 10K. I am also down ten pounds…trying to get back to my pre-Nigeria weight. I ate too much jollof rice and pounded yam while living in Nigeria.
In addition, I have been helping my mom conduct an inventory (sounds morbid) of the community cemetery. In addition to learning who is related to who in the Movico/Chastang/Mount Vernon area, I have learned a lot about the history of our community. The cemetery started as a “Colored Cemetery” for families of former slaves living in Movico and Chastang. While we don’t know when the first person was buried in Roper Cemetery, the cemetery has been an integral part of the Chastang-Movico-Mount Vernon area for 115 years. Lucy Hampton Jones was buried in the cemetery in 1905. Lucy probably died from complications from child birth. Many of the families in Chastang-Movico-Mount Vernon area can be traced back to Lucy Jones including members of the Hamptons, the Jones, the Daniels, the Millers, the Walkers, the Breeches, and the Pughes families. She is the great-great grandmother of Movico. Since 1905, the cemetery has grown to include over 500 graves, including members of my family and many of the community stalwarts that once worked tirelessly to ensure the cemetery was maintained as a proper place for the community. These individuals paid yearly dues which provided for the care and up keep of the cemetery.
One grave in particular that caught my attention is Leroy Hampton. Leroy was a Private in the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division in the US Army. He was fighting in South Korea in 1951 when he was killed in action. Private Hampton was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Korean War Service Medal. Leroy paid the ultimate sacrifice. He gave his life fighting in defense of American values at a time when the country considered him as a second class citizen.