ARCHIVES of COVID-19: UP Recollections and Reflections - A CHRONICLE OF OUR RESILIENCE

Posted on April 04, 2023


The first COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in South Africa began on 26 March 2020. Over the past three years, isolation, anxiety and loss seemed to have spread just a quickly as the disease itself. On 1 March 2020, South Africa recorded its first COVID-19 infection and since then the country has seen over four million cases and around 102 000 deaths. It was, therefore, fitting that the launch of the book, Archives of COVID-19: UP Recollections and Reflections took place on 27 March 2023, three years after the first national lockdown began.


During the initial stages of the national lockdown, the staff of the UP Archives started recording developments made by UP as both staff and students began to adjust to the new lifestyle. Initiated by Prof Karen Harris, Head of the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies and Director of the UP Archives, the #UPStaySafe competition was launched.


#UPStaySafe was the first competition which took place in 2020 and called for photographic submissions. These entries depicted the lives of both UP staff and students who were living and working from home and in isolation during the initial stages of the national lockdown. A year later, and no closer to seeing an end to the lockdown, the second competition was launched titled Recollecting Covid-19: 356 days in lockdown. This 2021 competition encourgaed a range of submissions from different mediums, such as essays, poetry, videos and even voice notes. The third and final competition took place in 2022 and focused on the theme of Loss, pause and hope. For this competition, UP staff and students were asked to reflect on these themes and the ongoing global pandemic as a whole. The book, Archives of COVID-19: UP Recollections and Reflections, collates the entries received under each of the three competitions.


Archives of Covid-19 was launched in the Glass Foyer on Hatfield Campus and was attended by individuals across UP’s Faculties including the Faculty of Humanities, members of the UP Archives and competition winners. Archives of COVID-19 was compiled and edited by Dr Bronwyn Strydom of the UP Archives and was published by the Emerging Scholars Initiative Pres (ESI Press).


Prof Karen Harris introduced the publication before Prof Caroline Nicholson, Registrar of UP and line manager of UP Archives, addressed those attending the launch. Prof Nicholson underlined the challenging and difficult experiences that the pandemic forced the UP community to face. Finally, those who won prizes in each of the three competitions were awarded certificates. The winners were:


2020: “#UPStaySafe” Winners:


  • First Prize: Nokuthula Malinga
  • Two best UP Student Submissions: Ruvimbo Musiyarira & Khonzile Mabena
  • Two best UP Staff Submissions: Godfrey Mufumadi & Nico Botes
  • Ten runner-up Photos were submitted by:

Sieraaj Ahmed, Ashlin Bheemraj, Allen Compaan, Oatlegile Ditshego, Matete Mangena, Alison Ridel, Regina Sithole, Cindy Tshalata, Ilse Wepener &Mitch Williams. 


2021: “UP Archives Recollecting COVID-19 – 365 days under lockdown” Winners:


Given the outstanding quality of the entries, the judges decided not to award a winner and two runners-ups. Instead, 5 prizes were awarded to the following deserving entries:

  1. Tamuka Gwenhure
  2. Fumani Hlungwani
  3. Caitlin McGregor
  4. Maryam Mohamad Al Mahdi
  5. Natasha Rammoi


2022: “Loss, pause and hope” Winners:

  • The winning entry was “Grey Scale Memories” by Lynne Davies, which expressed deep and personal loss in a very moving way.
  • Due to the merit and variety of formats entered, the judges decided to award prizes for a joint second place.
  • The second place is shared by the entry “PAGE (ov1d 19 BREAK” by Katleo Makhanya, and “The silent scourge of online learning” by Brittany Clarke and Duncan Lotter. Each of these entries won R2 500.


Archives of COVID-19 does not only depict the impact that COVID-19 had on the staff and students of UP, but it is also a memorial to those who experienced grief, suffering and loss during the pandemic. Thank you to all those involved in its production. A special thank you to Prof Karen Harris, Dr Bronwyn Strydom, Dr Ria van der Merwe, Ms Alida Green, Ms Sian Pretorius-Nel and Ms Tiffaney da Gama of the UP Archives, Dr Heather Thuynsma, the Director of ESI Press and Dr Stephen Symons who designed the cover, typography and overall design of the book. The digital copy can be viewed here, on the ESI Press website.


- Author Robyn Schnell

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences