How South Africans documented lockdown

Published Jul 4, 2020


CAPE TOWN- South Africans have lived in lockdown for 100 days, and while the country has seen significant changes some people have taken the time document their experiences.

President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement on 23 March that the nation would go into what would then only be a

Here are some creative South Africans who decided to document their lockdown experiences in various different ways.

Jeffrey Abrahams

59-year-old photographer, Jeffrey Abrahams, from Muizenberg, Cape Town, has captured powerful scenes from the start of lockdown.

"Our parents and grandparents told stories about the War. I realized from the beginning that the story of Covid-19 would be our 'war story' which we’d be telling our grandchildren, and so I set about creating a diary. Also, I found the concept of ‘Social Distancing’ to be an unfortunate way of phrasing it. In South Africa, with our history and massive class divides, I think ‘social distancing’ has painful connotations. With that in mind, I’ve been covering the poorer areas, to tell their stories, to reveal their realities," he said.

Follow the link to see some more of his lockdown photos.

Lockdown heights

A group of performing artists based in Johannesburg came together to create a 21-part episodic IGTV drama series. The series centers around individuals living in an apartment block during the lockdown While the series has concluded, the group have continued to produce content such as live IGTV interviews with the cast and fellow artists in the industry.

Rhona Williams

48-year-old Rhona Williams from Fourways, Gauteng has been crocheting one heart everyday since the start of lockdown to raise money for charity.

"When we were told we would have three weeks indoors, I thought it would be a lovely way to mark the passing time, with a heart for love. I was posting them on Facebook, to encourage people not to lose hope. Anyone can come and collect a heart, in exchange for a food item, tinned goods, oranges, mielie meal, or animal food. I will be donating the goods to Community Angels," she said.

Leslie and Leanne van der Merwe

The Van der Merwe family from Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, has been documenting their lockdown experience and how they have used creative ways to keep themselves busy and productive.

This was not always an easy task with three young children in the home. Last month parents Leslie and Leanne spent two weeks recovering from Covid-19.

"It was tough when Les and I tested positive because we were both man-down for 6 days. But the kids were amazing, they understood we were sick and tried to help when they could. We also had lots of friends who delivered meals and helped us out," said Leanne.

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Ginty O'Connor

"I thought it would be cool to mark the days of lockdown - and then I started writing humorous things to keep my morale up and it just evolved from there," said 29-year-old school teacher Ginty O'Connor from Muizenberg, Cape Town.

Every day since the start of lockdown O'Connor has been posting pictures of her fridge on Instagram with short quotes from TV shows, trending memes, a song that was stuck in her head, or even just her own thoughts.

"My experience of lockdown has actually been a good one, I fully buy into the concept as a means of preventing the healthcare system from being overwhelmed, even if some of the regulations that have accompanied lockdown have been incredibly frustrating," she said.

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Schalk Bezuidenhout

Comedian and actor Schalk Bezuidenhout has filmed and uploaded a video to Facebook everyday since the start of lockdown.

The Lockdown Diaries


Since the lockdown began, the project has been asking people from across Cape Town to share regular WhatsApp diaries and describe their experiences of lockdown and its impact upon their communities. 70 participants are involved from all walks of life and the hope of the project is to share insights from Lockdown with members of the public, policy makers, and responders to the crisis.

The Lockdown diary project is being run by a team of researchers from the University of Edinburgh and the University of the Western Cape.

The Andersons

Actress and chef Juliette Pauling started up a Facebook video series called ‘The Andersons’ around the time that President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the initial 21-day national lockdown, towards the end of March.

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