We are living in an age of loss: lost lives, lost opportunities, lost stories. South Africans feel the Covid-19 net tightening around us as we watch people in other countries getting back to “normal”. Reports of friends and acquaintances battling the effects of the coronavirus in bed or in hospital fill our newsfeeds and our waking thoughts. Some of us are in the lucky position of fearing for our families; others, less fortunate, are in mourning for departed loved ones.

At such a time, the deaths of public figures (whether caused by Covid-19 or not) carry additional weight. We grieve for individuals whose names and faces we recognise, even if we didn’t know them personally. They stand in for the anonymous thousands whose deaths are condensed into infographics and official statistics. ..

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