Quarantine Diaries | South Africa : Surviving In Uncertainty

Guest post by Cwayita from cwayitabizana.co.za

I am sitting here, reflecting on how strange this year has turned out to be. No one could’ve predicted that we would be living under strict regulations to stay indoors for such an extended period. 2020 – this was supposed to be our year and needless to say COVID-19 came and made us all question whether what we deem important should hold that much value in our lives.

In the middle of March, I remember feeling like I might have to choose between the fear of COVID-19 and my job – the nature of my work as a professional bra fitter requires being in close contact with clients. My anxiety began to peak as the infection rate started to escalate. Today I can sit here and say that I am fortunate enough not to have had to go to work but begin adapting to working virtually since the 26th of March 2020, which was when the national lockdown came into enforcement in South Africa.

I am grateful to be from South Africa during this period, and I cannot express the importance of how our government has chosen humanity over everything else – WE ARE LEAD.

My biggest insecurity and discomfort comes from the fact that the business I work for isn’t classified as an essential service. Therefore the security of income is no longer there – I am a victim of pay cuts because of COVID-19, and I have been forced to rearrange my finances and think honestly about the future. This, however, does not amount to the distress the less fortunate people in our country are undergoing.

On a daily basis, our TV screens are flooded with daily reminders of the inequalities in this country, we see the poor standing in lengthy queues for food parcels and watching that has exposed all sorts of economic disparities and now COVID-19 has heightened this. The difference in living circumstances in South Africa caused by inequalities has made this period very painful to live through. How this COVID-19 spreads and how it has begun manifesting itself in our communities daily is disheartening, people in rural areas and informal settlements have no clear understanding of the effects this invisible disease may have on their lives. And these are only a few of the realities this pandemic has made us come to terms with, in South Africa.

The fear of falling ill and dying alone doesn’t sit well with me or losing a loved one to this infectious disease is what has brought me a lot of emotional distress and anxiety. I recall week 6 and experiencing a burning sensation in my chest, sleeplessness and a deep sense of sadness –  I can confirm that I have struggled a lot emotionally during this period. Sometimes it feels like we just woke up one day, and people were dying – yes, people die every day, but this feels different and unfair.

Our government has tried to put in place the necessary measures to safeguard the lives and dignity of people of our South Africa but the cracks are showing themselves now more than ever. My main goal during lockdown has been to try and support small businesses to help reduce the pressure these companies are under; some days I feel fortunate but at the same time I feel a lot of guilt because I am safe and sheltered while this disease is manifesting itself in communities where the most vulnerable are.

I think the measures that are in place are all still vital, this is a daily reminder that real people are losing their lives – it’s not just stats, and we need to continue abiding. 

My lockdown hasn’t been seamless but it has been a time for reflection, and I keep asking myself who’s life am I living anyway, when things go back to normal I want my next move to be the most fulfilling journey. I have started planning the way forward with content creation, but the struggle has been real when it comes to juggling my feelings of anxiety, extreme motivation and fatigue.

There are days of feeling inadequate, that what I am doing is not enough, that there is no sense of direction at all—beating myself up for where I am. The reality is that life has changed drastically, and I need to remember that I am living through a global pandemic. Indeed nothing is perfect; all my emotions are valid. I have overcome the mourning of the Easter holiday trip to Zanzibar that was cancelled as a result of COVID-19 I have completely let it go. I try to positive self-talk daily, watch a lot of Netflix, cook and I make sure I take social media breaks, I am doing short courses to kill time too.

After multiple breakdowns, feeling trapped and almost helpless I can confidently say that I have it together now by trying to live more instead of just being alive.

About the author

Cwayita is a 25 year old Johannesburg based swimwear and bra expert, copywriter and blogger. She is the co-owner of a sustainable fashion brand called Vintage.Finds SA which sells up cycled and reworked garments. She’s obsessed with the reality TV and her continent of Africa. She blogs over at cwayitabizana.co.za. You can also find her on Instagram and Twitter!

Quarantine Diaries is a blog series where bloggers from different countries share their quarantine stories to narrate their experiences and remind us that we all are in it together.

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Read lockdown stories from across the globe: India | United Kingdom | Australia | USA | Uganda | Egypt | Kuwait | Finland | Canada | South Africa | Pakistan | Indonesia | Philippines

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  1. Clarissa

    You’re strong and this is going to eventually pass! It’s a shame you haven’t been able to work since. In Australia, we’ve offered a lot of benefit programs for those who have been out of work.

    I’ve been feeling inadequate and down lately myself too but we’ve got this!! xx


  2. Faiza's Corner

    You are an amazing individual for maintaining such a strong personality. I’m sorry you had to go through what you had to go through financially. I have hope it will get better for you. Keep going strong!! You can do this!! 🧡

  3. Liz Martin

    Living in the Philippines, I relate to what you said here about seeing and feeling the inequalities even more as exposed by this pandemic. The news here are so heartbreaking to watch and read because so many are suffering. Those who have lost their jobs. Those who are going hungry. Those who have to walk miles to get to where they need to be like the hospital because there’s a lack of transpo. I too am privileged to be able to work from home and grateful to be earning still despite having a paycut as well. I would say though that you are lucky to be living in a country that seems to be properly lead by the government. I wish I could say the same for my country. Stay safe! And hang in there! We will get through this.

  4. Maisie

    I really enjoyed reading this, it’s so interesting to see how other countries are handling things. I’m sorry to hear about the financially hardships you and the people of your country are facing. You’re so right, that it’s important to remember that we are living through such a huge part of history right now and that we shouldn’t put so much pressure on ourselves 🧡

  5. Yaz

    The adjustment to this new world after the pandemic has changed many people people’s views in life. Your post brings about a new perception of how things are in your place and somehow a sense of comfort knowing it is not just us, but everyone around the world feeling uncertainties.

  6. Em

    Although different, I too feel like my government is failing. It is a really scary time and all this uncertainty is worrying. I think the adjustment period after this will be difficult and that things won’t ever be the same. Thank you for sharing your diary. It is oddly comforting to read others experiences to know no one is alone in this and that somewhere, we all feel similarly. Stay safe lovely

    Em x


    1. Cwayita

      You are right in saying things will never be the same again. It really is up to us to stay home as much as possible, having a community where you can share how you are feeling without judgement is very comforting. thank you for reading and I hope you your government can step up.

  7. lifewithclottedcream

    I loved your post! I, too, am South African, however I live in the UK. I’m always telling my friends here that South Africa’s lock down procedures are second to none! They’ve acted really early and hopefully the lives saved will be far more important than anything else. xx

    1. Cwayita

      Hello fellow South African 🙂

      Things have been relaxed a little and there is more freedom now – I am not looking forward to seeing the number now that the alcohol ban has been lifted. We all need to prove ourselves. I hope you are keeping safe.

  8. Jenny in Neverland

    Great guest post and loved reading about someone else’s lockdown experience who’s from a different country. South Africa sounds like it’s done everything right in terms of their procedures around this situation x

  9. Jade

    Thanks for sharing! On certain days, it’s difficult to summon the motivation to do anything but I’m glad to hear you’re doing better. I’m all too familiar with the meltdowns and anxiety. These are challenging times and we are trying out best to cope. South Africa’s lockdown measures are impressive.