Although Cyril Ramaphosa’s eyes were covered by his mask blunder, the president had vision.

On Thursday evening, with the eyes of the entire country on him, President Cyril Ramaphosa produced a moment of meme magic, when he struggled to put on his face mask at the end of his address to the nation.

To close off his address, Ramaphosa attempted to put on the mask in a very unconventional manner. First, struggling to secure his ears while his mask was over his eyes, then unhooking it when he tried to put it over his mouth and eventually getting it on after a very awkward struggle.

Needless to say, social media was flooded with pictures and videos of the president’s blunder, which had become the country’s latest meme. The hashtag #CyrilMaskChallenge was even trending on twitter for most of Friday.

While some on social media came to the president’s defence saying that his mask mishap happened because he was tired, stressed, and overworked, I am not convinced by this explanation.  That mask was obviously too small and there was no need for him to put on the mask in front of the camera.

A more convincing explanation is that this blunder was deliberate. 

President Ramaphosa is aware of activity on social media posts he’s involved in. Consider the lead up to his address on Tuesday, when his usual address opening was trending on Twitter (#MyFellowSouthAfricans). In response, Ramaphosa opened his address with “Compatriots” instead. Because the term is defined as “a fellow citizen or national of a country,” this can be seen as a cheeky nod to the hashtag. Subtle comedy gold if you ask me. 

Ramaphosa appeared on eNCA on Friday, and took the mask mishap in his stride when he joked saying: “For those that were laughing at me yesterday, now, let me tell you something… I am going to open a TV channel where I am going to teach people to put on a mask.”

You may be asking why our president would want to embarrass himself in front of the whole country. The answer is simple.

The lockdown has been an undeniably difficult time for everyone in the country. Social distancing has left many feeling isolated and under the weather. Memes are a little relief that we can enjoy and share.

At a time when unity is our best chance at beating the pandemic, President Ramaphosa’s cringeworthy and dad-jokeish attempt to put on a mask was the tonic the country needed. The effect is captured best by this meme caption: “In this moment, the nation was united in its confusion.”

LINK: Ramaposa on eNCA

FEATURED IMAGE: Tshepo Thaela, student journalist for Wits Vuvuzela. Photo: File