Today marks one year since the first coronavirus lockdown in South Africa. Last year this time, the number of coronavirus cases was fast approaching a thousand, at 927 with 218 cases reported on 26 March. Since then, life as we knew it has become a somewhat distant memory. Embracing loved ones, carefree breath, thoughtless touch – all radical notions of the past.
No one could have anticipated the abrupt shift that that would see us here, one year later. Loved ones departed, businesses decayed, poverty, debt and fear ever prominent.
“It is clear from the development of the disease in other countries and from our own modelling that immediate and swift extraordinary action is required if we are to prevent a human catastrophe of enormous proportions in our country. Our fundamental task at this moment is to contain the spread of the disease,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa as he announced the first lockdown on March 26 2020.
In true South African style though, we rallied together as a nation, making the most out of the unimaginable.
Here are a few of my very own lockdown trinkets that kept me going, writes Robyn Simpson.
It’s safe to say that no banana bread recipe went untested. From your tannie’s secret recipe to healthy oat versions, if you weren’t baking banana bread you were part of a small minority. Schalk Bezuidenhout kept me giggling with his commentary on “piesangbrood”. I “baked-the-kak” out of all the bananas, as Schalk would say. From bread to biscuits, I tried it all. I even came up with my very own secret Cowboy Cookie recipe.
An explosion of creativity
Bucketloads of spare time had many getting creative. The Kiffness (David Scott) and local DJ, Max Hurrell transformed Cabinet minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s speech in defence of the tobacco ban. The result: “But also, when people Zol”. I remember dancing around my living room like I was at my favourite festival (out of shear boredom, and in hindsight, utter insanity).
The 5km challenge
This initiative tested loads of South African’s, all while supporting good charity. The movement, created by Olivia Strong went viral on Instagram. Participants were encouraged to run 5, donate 5 and then play it forward by challenging another 5 people to partake. Since we couldn’t run on the roads, I would loop around my apartment building like a hamster on a wheel. I repeat – utter insanity.
Hibernating, but healthy
With gyms closed, curfew, and pent-up energy, the nation got fierce and fit together. No dumbbells on shelves, yoga mats scarce, and booty-bands in high demand. Working out from home became a trend that has continued throughout each level of lockdown. Gyms, trainers, and fitness brands didn’t disappoint, with many reshaping their business models to cater for a new online audience. A year later and I haven’t stepped foot back into a gym. Why would I when I can get sweaty from the safety of my own home? Bonus: no uncomfortable tights necessary. Undies are the new pants.
A whole lot of love
We’re certain that your furry friends have had the time of their lives. With humans home all day, cats were never short of laptops to lie on and dogs have been walked like never before. When life came to an abrupt halt, the country embraced the blessing of time spent at home with loved ones. I know I did! My cat, Puff, and I have never been closer. She’s attempting to sleep on my laptop at this current moment.
What a year. The wildest, perhaps…
What got you through lockdown? I’d love to know!
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