Home | Feature | A HOMILY ON ANOMALY


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Followed by an apology; for using words because they roll off the tongue, yet very few native English speakers know the meaning of them.

Well, ‘homily’ comes from the Greek homilein - to make an address, usually of religious content. The pastors will definitely know that. And the word ‘anomaly’, just like ‘paradigm’, makes a nice sound without the meaning necessarily being known.
The word ‘literally’ has literally – sorry about that – taken over the English-speaking world, and is the modern more sophisticated sentence filler. A substitute for ‘you know’. It really doesn’t matter of course; people can use whatever words they like as long as they are not abusive. It just shows how fascinating a language can be, even when it has been dead for 2 000 years, like Latin and Ancient Greek, the source of many words in modern English.


That’s the frivolous out of the way for this week. I couldn’t resist it, not least because the reduction in deaths and infections from the COVID-19 third wave made me happy. Then a blip in the infection figures published yesterday and you go cautious again. In the meantime let’s not forget to deal with the word ‘anomaly’? I’ll use a definition that suits – deviation from the common rule. May I add my own – an inconsistency that defies explanation. Let’s just look at one or two anomalies. One of the most striking within this hold-your-breath stage of the COVID-19 pandemic is the apparent reluctance of many people to get vaccinated. Yet they are assured by the best experts available to mankind that the vaccine being used carries statistically only a tiny degree of risk. The vaccination almost guarantees that if you have the misfortune to contract the virus you will not have a serious illness; that’s a brilliant insurance policy. And no premium payable either. Yet, of the many vaccination centres across Eswatini, a lot have gone very quiet. While there was a surge at the weekend and Tuesday, perhaps following encouragement from ‘homilies’ within our churches, the rate has been very slow. Now fewer than an average of 100 people a day; and still only 17 per cent of the population.


And the additional benefit of a large proportion of the population being vaccinated is that the countries from which we want investors, tourists, and ones that we want to visit for all sorts of reasons, are publishing their own red lists. And these are not just on prevailing infection rates but also on vaccination rates. That’s because the larger the block of non-vaccinated people in a country the bigger the chance of a variant developing; and spreading through travel. The populations of those countries are simply not welcome in highly vaccinated countries. Another anomaly is that developed countries, which are normally conspicuous with generous development assistance, are prioritising booster shots domestically, ahead of helping poor countries of the world.
South Africa is launching its digital vaccine passports, that can be loaded onto the smartphone, mainly to put pressure on the large numbers of the unwilling. We ask our leadership to be more emphatically vocal about the need for vaccination and the contribution it makes to the standing of Eswatini in the world. You can’t force but you can vigorously persuade.


In any country, justice delivery should be comprehensible to be credible; the anomaly arises when it isn’t. The Judiciary is the arm of government responsible for the law, and justice for everyone under that law. So why do we have terms openly delivered in Latin such as functus officio (of no further authority) and meru motu (of one’s own volition), in the MPs’court case. And why do we need that archaic, and probably rather uncomfortable, headgear to deliver justice? It’s all pomp; and not restricted to this country. I never heard the word ‘recuse’ until I came here. Does a doctor say ubi pus, ibi evacua (the pus must be drained) or ask you whether you have cephalargia (headache)? The two MPs were originally refused bail because they made a ‘bare denial’ of the allegations against them. The ordinary person would say – what’s wrong with that? A bit ambiguous too!

And there are genetic anomalies. Every decent individual should grieve at the utterly false mythology and shameful stigma attached to albinism, a condition caused by lower melanin, giving rise to a different colour skin. Where is the emotional intelligence of a person who believes that the body parts of a person with albinism can have any impact on the behaviour of others? And a striking anomaly is with the person who enjoys the right to condemn racists who judge by the colour of the skin, while that person judges a person with albinism in exactly the same manner? We need more frequent high level condemnation of such myths and linked behaviour.

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