Reflecting on the year with COVID-19

A year into the global COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdown, RAVEN BENNY reflects on what the year has taught South Africans

Now, a year into living with the COVID-19 pandemic, I think back on the time gone by; about the challenges faced and overcame, the innovations, creativity and hope. Yes, it has been a terrifying year since the first hard lockdown for which some still believe the president owes us an apology; a lockdown of 21 days that stretched on for what felt like forever.

Yet, look how far we’ve come: level one restrictions with little imposition on our daily lives (referencing May). But, back then, we faced our first encounter with COVID and the precautions needed to prevent the spread of the virus.

Many of us have done well. Yes, there were a few sacrifices, but we can celebrate the many small victories. We have made it another year! We find ourselves mid-2021.

A year in a pandemic encouraged many of us to rekindle or take up new hobbies like reading, gardening or baking. It highlighted the importance of friends, families and communities. What a privilege to be able to spend time with the people we love.

However, it still remained an uncertain time. We had to endure and survive. Sadly, many perished. They won’t be forgotten. Their contribution to our lives can’t be replaced or filled. So, let us hold onto the memories of them.

Aside from the human-lives lost. There were also businesses, jobs and income losses. Some of us have found ingenious ways to deal with this pandemic. Others used it as an opportunity to thrive while a larger portion of society struggled to survive.

Through it all, we do need to push on, continue with the good things we do. Pick up the pieces even if they lay in shattered bits around you.

We are lucky to continue with our lives. We have the responsibility to focus on our legacy and those who passed. We have seen how quickly things can change; how plans can be disrupted and shifted into a completely different direction as intended.

We have the hindsight of the many days, weeks and months that we’ve endured to guide us into our new and still uncertain future. Marvel at the wonders of nature that were exposed by this pandemic, mourn with those who are experiencing loss, and carve out ways of reinventing our lives, businesses and general way of life going forward.

So, as we reflect on the time gone by and on our way forward, I wish you all well and encourage you to stay positive. To continue to reach out and support one another safely. We are all in this together, and it will be a collective effort to not only control the spread of infections, but to motivate and lobby for protection in the form of effective vaccines.

Long shall we remember the past year and miss the loved ones lost, but never shall we forget what we went through and the lessons we learnt on how to carefully push on with our lives.

Raven Benny has been a C5, 6 and 7 quadriplegic since 2000. He is married and has five children, is mad about wheelchair rugby and represented South Africa in 2003 and 2005. He relocated from Cape Town to Durban, where he was appointed the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of QASA from August 1, 2019. email: