Wits Vuvuzela student journalist, Vetiwe Mamba, and her siblings have found themselves locked down at home in Eswatini. They have converted their family dining room into their study.

Since the lockdown started, my three siblings and I have had to share the same working space to work on our assignments and finish our respective school terms. We all get along well, maybe a little too well, which leads to regular distractions filled with jokes and hilarious impersonations throughout the day.

Online learning has definitely brought us closer but there are still some drawbacks and challenges we each face.

Over 20 years ago, my dad ordered this maple-wood table (above) from Turri, an Italian home and architecture company that was founded in the 1920s. Due to its grandiose appearance and size, my dad designed the rest of the room around this table and made it a centerpiece. Mimicking the pillars and warm, regal colours to tie everything together. A showpiece of sorts, the table is only used for special occasions and even after 20 years, it continues to be looked after with the utmost care.

During lockdown, the stately and spotless dining table which has been in our home for as long as I can remember has been morphed into a massive working desk, fit for four kids who need it for our academic work. Apart from the area being comfortable and spacious, we’ve squatted in the dining room because it has the best and strongest wifi connection. Between alternating Zoom calls throughout the day and uploading work onto Google Drive, we put the internet to work (and it’s not surviving well) in order to complete all our assignments on time. The dining room is where we spend 90% of our time and has officially become our domain. As a result, my mom has draped a table cloth on it to avoid unnecessary scratches and marks.

Nqobizwe Mamba (17) is currently in form 3 (Grade 10) at Usutu Forest High School in Eswatini. A social butterfly by nature, he is struggling with staying in the house all day long and being the only boy in the family doesn’t help his situation either. “It’s not terrible being with girls all the time, but sometimes I miss chilling with the guys,” he said. However, in an academic sense, he is enjoying the relaxed schedule he has adopted. He has about three lessons a day and assignments that follow thereafter. It has given him more time to work and early mornings and bumpy bus rides have become nothing but a distant memory for him.

This is a photograph of me and the baby of the house, Yenziwe Mamba (13) who is always the first person to take her seat at the table in the morning. This year is Yenziwe’s first year in high school and she feels that the lockdown has dampened her experience of high school, as she was looking forward to building new friendships and creating new memories. A homebody by nature, she isn’t upset about staying indoors all day but she does admit that she has fallen behind on a few of her subjects due to online learning. Music is her first love and a pair of headphones are always glued to her body, no matter what the time of day may be.

Eldest sibling, Ndzelani Mamba (25), is currently studying towards a bachelor of education in foundation phase at the University of Johannesburg. She has daily online lectures and Zoom calls where she juggles work between her course and being an English tutor to over 50 first-year students. Ndzelani has exams coming up in June and she said that she is slightly anxious about them, “We’re all a bit nervous because we don’t know what to expect from the lecturers, we don’t have [an] idea what the exam is even going to look like,” she said.  Being a boarding student since primary school, working at home is a completely different experience for her and whilst she might not fully enjoy it, she’s trying her hardest to make the most of it.