The news that popupar comedienne, Tumi Morake and family have been locked in isolation seems like any other news, just like any other South Africans, however, their story is different in that they have been locked out far from home.
They are locked in the United States of America, unable to return home because of the lockdown. The country is under a 21-day shutdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa as a way to contain the spread of coronavirus.
After renovating their home, the family thought of having some fun and took it on a business/ leisure trip to the US. Tumi and her actor husband, Mpho Ose-Tutu and their three kids Bonsu, Lesedi and Afia are stuck in Virginia.
Some would feel pity for them, as to how they are coping in foreign land, but the family is doing well and are enjoying each and every moment of it.
"We initially came to the USA to finish off some business we have here. We have alot of stuff in the pipeline, we also planned to have a mini holiday because we have friends and family here," said Tumi.
She said things took a sudden turn as the COVID-19 affected business. "That all changed quickly after we arrived as the scourge of the pandemic wrecked havoc taking the business we came to do with it. Luckily there is really no pressure for us to leave even if we are technically stuck here because all planes are grounded. We are exactly where we need to be,” she said.
For them, the lockdown has grounded them but also presented them the opportunity to help their kids with school work. Mpho is good in planning and Tumi is much in putting plans to action.
“My husband is very good at sticking to a plan, mapping out days, etc., and I unfortunately fall into the category of loskop – so we do our best. We basically try and get them fed as soon as everybody’s up, get the school work out of the way and make the best of the rest of the day – so we’re trying to keep it as loose as possible. The school has been really helpful in that every week we’re very clear as to what the kids need to do. It’s not all doom and gloom. We are with family here," she added.
They are living with an aunt, there in Virginia, after their attempt to return home failed on account of cancelled flights because of the lockdown in SA.
“We’re very grateful that we are in an area where our children are actually able to go outside and soak up some sun without any other human contact,” Tumi said.
In the USA, around the same time, the borders were closed and citizens asked to stay home. Tumi is happy by the swiftness expressed by Ramaphosa in locking down the country before there were fatalities.
“I would firstly say, ‘Wow! It cannot have been easy and to take that kind of strain, to make decisions where you know whichever one you make you are not going to please everyone’. But he made a decision that is the best one for the country and to some degree the world at large. Well done. Well done on being decisive. Moving forward, I really hope and pray that in everything he is planning, the people in front of his mind are the poor,” she said.
She believes Ramaphosa did better than US president Donald Trump in the way the two leaders handled the pandemic.
“Where Trump’s initial response was, ‘What’s with all the hysteria? Everything is great, who’s afraid of a little flu?’, Thuma Mina looks like he went, ‘Say what? Let’s get it handled, now!’
“And with each escalation he was ready for whatever came next. He handled it like a champ, enough for me to forgive him for keeping us waiting. Rather take your time with good info than rush in with gobbledygook,” she said.
It is her belief that the general South African population does understand how serious the lockdown is and that everybody will abide by the regulations that were put in place.
“From what we have seen online, I’d say the majority of people in SA get the gravity of the situation, much like the rest of the world. There may be some people in panic mode with a little bit of mass hysteria as well as denial, but for the most part it’s sinking in. I think the minute people start seeing those military guys on the street they’re going to realise how real this is,” she said.
She added that as for, this is her second lockdown. “And speaking as someone who’s been on lockdown for so long, first in the concrete jungle of New York City and now in a bigger home with a yard – yes we’ve had to do it twice! – you can never be too safe," she said.
Tumi is happy to be out of New York. “We were very lucky we got out of NYC when we did because the rate of infection that’s happening there is alarming. I really hope and pray South Africans realise that we can laugh all we want about it on social media but this is quite a serious thing," she added.
She wished well for those who are back home. “Especially considering how many people don’t have access to medical help at home and don’t have easy access to basic information around the coronavirus. I really hope for the best,” she said.
It’s not all that hard for the two comics to keep the children entertained during this time. “Some people may not know this, but my husband is a briliant performer, he does excellent tings and the kids love that. The kids also spent a lot of time gaming and colouring crafts," she added.
According to Tumi, her family is blessed in that they do a lot of things together as a single unity. She said the lockdowned helped her spend more time with her kids, which is a rare treat because of the nature of her work.
She however, misses her recently renovated home back here in SA. For Tumi there is no place like home, but she is just enjoying the time out there until when the lockdown is over.