While 2020 will be remembered as a time when life as we knew it was turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic, some discovered new opportunities during the lockdown. Families again had the time to sit down to enjoy a traditional meal that took them back to their childhood days.

Others, like 29-year-old Nonkululeko Zulu from Ulundi in northern KwaZulu-Natal, saw an opportunity to start a business in order to survive.

Zulu, a teacher by profession, now also runs Umusa Poultry Farm. She says while she was at home during the hard lockdown in April, she saw an opportunity to make an extra income by raising and selling chickens.

Zulu says she is now supplying chickens to stokvel groups.

“I was at home doing nothing because schools were closed. My family is big. By that time I was the only one having an income. My family was relying on me financially so I decided to start a business selling chickens. I’ve managed to come up with strategies of how to get more customers. The lockdown helped me a lot to gain more experience in my business because I was doing it myself since I was at home. Financially it really helped me, I have two incomes.”

Some small businesses were forced to shut down because of the pandemic: 

Childhood favourites

While others tried new things – the head of a Durban Chef School Thigam Nathoo, and her extended family decided to return to their roots –  making the time to prepare traditional dishes the way their grandmothers used to.

“All our cousins would cook. We have a WhatsApp group, we posted on this group whatever we cooked, almost everything that was there was going back to our roots. We had time now. We were all at home, we all had the whole day and it was absolutely wonderful because we discovered, as my son said the childhood favourites.”

Fitness and health

Durban North resident Trish Eksteen ran 100 half marathons in 100 days to raise awareness about mental health problems during lockdown and also to give people hope. Eksteen says she also managed to complete each half marathon in less than two hours.

“What keeps me going I think is that I did it for other people. I think if I did it for myself you chase a record, I don’t think I would have done it. It is one day at a time, one skip at a time, and in some cases, it’s one minute at a time. We have to just keep one foot in front of each other and keep going.”

A fitness boom across South Africa amid COVID-19 lockdown:

Meanwhile, some fitness fanatics who were unable to go to the gym decided to exercise in their yards. Marathon runners Tiffany Callaghan and Dave Saunderson opted to run around their home and entered virtual marathons.

“It all started out really strange. I didn’t really think I could run around the garden like more than once. But it becomes natural. We decided we wanted to keep fit and healthy, we normally run about two, three times a week maybe four. Then we decided let’s try maybe run every day. We’ve been running around the garden,” says Callaghan.

Saunderson says: “We have been able to run quite a long distance. Actually every day we have been managing about 6 kilometers.”

Many have decided to stick to the new habits they started during lockdown – including running a business or exercising at home.