How a year like no other summoned unsuspected strengths across cultures

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The fence around St. James Presbyterian Church, in a quiet suburb of Johannesburg, evinces a reality whose raw numbers can leave neighbors numb.

A year into a pandemic that has taken over 50,000 lives in South Africa, church caretaker Leonard Makuya still wakes each day to hear the latest death toll on the radio, dunking bread in his milky tea as he listens.

He and a colleague then solemnly take ribbons and tie them to the green palisade fence outside the property, a symbol of society’s growing emotional…


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