Eight things Covid made me do
Moky Makura is currently the Executive Director of Africa No Filter. She was the African Anchor for South Africa’s award-winning news and actuality show Carte Blanche. She produced and presented a lifestyle TV series for MNet called Living It, about the lifestyles of Africa’s wealthy elite. Her book Africa’s Greatest Entrepreneurs, with a foreword by Richard Branson, featured among the top 10 bestselling business books in South Africa when it launched. Moky played a lead role in the groundbreaking and popular MNet Pan-African drama series, Jacob’s Cross. In this article she recounts how the events of the last two years have changed her life for the better.
I lost two friends, my anxiety levels grew and I learned the reality of one of my favourite phrases – ‘life is what happens when you are busy making plans’.
There is a lot for which Covid is responsible, but it changed my life in other profound ways and all for the better. Here are the top eight Covid-inspired events that have shaped me in the last 18 months.
1) Travel – I didn’t. Prior to the pandemic, life had consisted of frequent long-haul international flights, interspersed with short bouts of living at home. Covid upended that. My suitcase is now fully unpacked for the first time in years.
2) Holidays – they were different. Before the pandemic, I spent more time leaving South Africa than I did exploring it. With no international escape route, and a Western appetite for vacations, we were left with no option but to holiday in South Africa. And some of the best moments we had were discovering the unexpected places that had been hiding in plain sight.
That’s how I ended up on a spectacular hot air balloon trip during a weekend away at a lodge that was just 45 minutes’ drive from home. Covid showed me what other people had told me – that South Africa is a remarkable tourist destination. I had forgotten.
3) Hobbies – I discovered a new one. At the height of the lockdown, when restaurants, cinemas, gyms were closed and home visits were banned, we took to driving out to hiking spots at weekends and simply walking around in nature.
I soon discovered that South Africa is blessed with wide open spaces and wonderful views. My hiking highlight was a three-day trip along the rugged Tsitsikamma Coast in the south-eastern part of South Africa. If only my old housemistress, who bore the brunt of my rebellion against rambling, could see me now – she would be very proud.
4) Cycling – I’m back in the saddle. From the air, Jo’burg looks like a rainforest because of its many trees; what they don’t tell you is that this particular rainforest is nestled between multiple hills that make it a cyclist’s nightmare.
So I invested in an e-bike. Purists hate me as I sail past them on scenic routes like Chapman’s Peak, without breaking a sweat. All I say to them is … don’t hate the player, hate the game.
5) My book – I finally wrote it. Just before Covid, I was handed a trunk with pictures, letters and documents belonging to my father who died when I was 16 years old. It turned out to be an amazing find. Not only did I rediscover my father, the writer, journalist and historian, I also discovered more about myself through the school reports he’d saved from age four, and the letters from my rebellious teenage self.
But the most important thing I discovered was an unfinished manuscript with the fascinating story of my aunt who was arrested and sent to an internment camp at Besançon in France during World War II. It made fascinating reading for me and inspired me to write my second book – this time part fiction, part fact based on my aunt’s extraordinary life.
6) Podcasting – I joined the club.
I love the creation process; the interviewing, finding the storyline, the editing, scripting, choosing the music and pulling it all together. Its harder than I thought – the pursuit of storytelling perfection usually is – but I started so I will finish to ensure it doesn’t finish me first. My podcast launched at the end of Jan.
7) Work – I started afresh. No I didn’t join the ‘Great Resignation’, but I did start a new role heading up a start-up in the not-for-profit world just as the pandemic broke
I was geographically agnostic about my team and recruited wherever I found them on the continent. Like the rest of the world, we relied on zoom to connect and nearly 18 months later, we have still never met in person, yet I believe we have managed to build a close team with a strong, distinct culture because we are deliberate about it.
8) A column – I finally got one. For the first time, with more time on my hands I could finally commit to writing a regular column in exactly the kind of publication that I wanted to read – thank you New African for the opportunity. Like podcasting, it was harder than I thought but I have started and, in this case, I have no intention of finishing.
Reflections on a time of change
Fingers crossed, we may be entering the end-game of the coronavirus scourge and life may soon return to pre-pandemic normality. The last two years have been like nothing else in most of our memories but somehow, most of us managed to survive with health and mind intact. This is a good moment to take a breath and look back on what has been a period of great change. What did we learn about ourselves? In our Reflections on a time of change series, some of New African‘s regular writers present their personal essays on what this period has meant to them.