Zainab Patel is a student journalist at Wits Vuvuzela. She has documented her families’ activities during the lockdown at their home in the north of Johannesburg. 

The lockdown has had a significant impact on my family as we are extremely close-knit but have been unable to see each other as often as we usually would. This has definitely made us appreciate family and each other. My older siblings each have a place of their own while my younger sister and I still live with our guardians.

We would usually have had a family dinner together every night but that has changed with the lockdown and its regulations. However, even though we are going through this difficult time, my siblings and nephews have found ways to stay sane through this lockdown.

The letter ‘s’

My nephew, Yusuf Mokgopo, who is four years old, tells us that he is quite bored at home and misses going to school. As a preschooler at a Montessori school he’s been having daily Zoom meetings with his teacher and class at 10:00am to 10:30am. The learners  are given a task to do in each session and today’s task was learning the letter ‘s’ or as they would say it “ssssss.” They had to colour in the images that start with an ‘s’ and leave those that don’t bare. These included a snowman, a scarecrow, a clock, a snake, a scuba diver and a skier. He has an adorable little setup where he does these classes with his tiny little chair and table like a real grownup at his work desk doing important things and attending very important meetings.

“I miss going to school, I miss the playground, I miss my teacher and my friends. I talk to them and draw (in his zoom meetings), and do school lessons. I want to go back to school. (The lockdown) is always annoying. I’m tired of being in the house. I want to see my friends,” he says.

Pele loading…

With school out of session, my eight-year-old nephew, Safwaan Mokgopo, as a huge soccer fan with aspirations to be like the great Pele, has used his time in lockdown to practice his  skills. Apart from this, he plays video games, watches TV or completes his school worksheets.

“I play soccer and I play video games. The reason I play soccer is because when I play soccer , I get to have fun, have more energy and get vitamin C (he actually meant vitamin D) at the same time while we don’t have to sit in front of the TV all day. All of the soccer players inspired me to play, Ronaldo, not the Ronaldo that’s playing now, the old Ronaldo, Ronaldhino, Neymar and Pele. I’m using the lockdown to practice my soccer skills, and shooting and curving the ball,” says Safwaan Mokgopo.

Showing them flames

As a full-time homebody, Faheemah Patel, my younger sister has been living her best life during the lockdown, thriving under the privileges extended to a 20-year-old student to do what she pleases with her time. She has taken to improving her gaming skills during the lockdown spending hours playing online with her friends and experiencing new games.

“Gaming is a nice way to pass your time and distract you from the real world and the horrors of 2020. It’s also a way to spend more time with my friends, you know since you can’t see them. I’ve always enjoyed playing games and the lockdown has given me a chance to improve my skills, spend more time playing, complete my challenges, catch up with all my games and finishing them,” says Faheemah.

Not today covid

My older brother and protector, Ahmed Mokgopo (30), has kept up with his fitness regime during the lockdown. He starts his day with a gym session before heading into a day of working remotely as a climate campaign specialist. He also practises yoga to soothe the mind, lifts weights to build strength, and does pull-ups to build resilience.

“I think for me you know just with the sort of frustrations you feel just like sitting around at home, working from home, never getting a chance to leave, it allows me to destress and declutter my mind. I feel good afterwards, I feel energised, I feel like I can face my work and the day. It’s also to avoid feeling lazy and to feel inspired to get my work done,” Ahmed says.

Beauty personified

Even though many of us have let ourselves go, living in our pajamas and completely ignoring self-care given the lack of physical interaction and being stuck behind our screens, my older sister, Sumaya Mokgopo (30), has not given up her Sunday self-care routine of steaming and masking her face, and doing a full hair treatment. “So self-

care is very important, it’s a way of uplifting how you feel because I mean we are in these trying times and you’re actually not interacting with people and this is a time where people feel like they’re alone and depressed so I guess you kind of feel human with self-care,” Sumaya says.

On Eid-ul-Fitr this past Monday, May 25, which marked the end of our fasting month of Ramadaan as Muslims, she was the only one from all of us siblings to get fully dressed up with make-up, hair done and curled and a fancy Eid outfit.

This is usually a day where everyone would dress up given that it’s a special day for us, but with the lockdown and the inability to celebrate as we usually would, we didn’t quite see the need to get all dolled up and fancy with just our close-knit family. However, she felt differently and went the full, glamourous mile.

“So I decided to basically put on make-up and get dressed up. You know, look part because it’s Christmas for us, it’s Eid, even though we’re under lockdown, it shouldn’t stop us from feeling good.

I’ve been working from home for the last three months and I’ve literally been in sweatpants, so I saw this as an opportunity for me to actually get up, get dressed, put makeup on and do my hair and it kind of felt good, I felt like a new person you know. And I guess I’m just the extravagant, extra person in my family so yeah.”



Broken but whole

I am heavily into Halloween and more creative and intricate make-up looks, and this lockdown has given me the time to practice my art and creativity with the help of YouTube tutorials. I believe that art is a great way to express your innermost thoughts and feelings. Things you usually would not say out loud. This gives you the opportunity to let it out without actually “letting it out”. I find that through face paint and make-up where I completely transform myself is where I feel most myself. This look was a recreation from an artist on YouTube. It inspired and spoke to me from the minute I saw it because it just expressed my thoughts and feelings during this time.

This look specifically is made to resemble broken glass, both a strong and fragile material that is used for protection but is also extremely vulnerable. I think a lot of people are feeling quite vulnerable during this time, I know I definitely am with cracks forming and pieces falling off as each day passes with the lockdown becoming extremely more difficult to bare. My mental health has also taken a toll and I’m slowly losing my sanity. However, after completing this look, it also made me see the renewal shining through, a sort of rebirth trying to leak through the cracks.

FEATURED IMAGE: I have used the lockdown to dive into more creative face makeup looks to step away from the chaos for a while but also to represent the chaos within. Photo: Zainab Patel