WHEN you work in the creative industries, you’ll undoubtedly share similar lessons. After all, we’re not that different from one another.
The global pandemic and its seismic, life-altering shifts aside, it’s just reassuring to hear what others have been through. We can all share our experiences to help, making everyone feel better and improve.
#enthuse asked creatives to reveal their biggest lessons of 2020. Here’s what they had to say, along with some practical tips to help you avoid going down the same route in 2021.
Cindy Munyavi, Multi-Award-winning Artist, Runs A Fashion Boutique
2020 taught me that life can take a very unexpected turn. It taught me not to take anything for granted, not to take the ones I love for granted. It taught me that life is fragile… and that to be alive is a blessing. It also taught me that one can make more progress under pressure.
Yamikani Hapaguti, Host on The Undomesticated Podcast
This year taught me something so simple and sweet; that you are more than what you do for a living and what you’re known for. In the face of a global pandemic, you are actually a community member; that’s the most important role. Feed into your communities and they will take care of you. We are not just creatives; we are people who need people. All our work, our play, and even our necessary ‘alone time’ should resound off of that.
Beaton Mabaso, Blogger at becomingthemuse.net & Co-founder at Afrobloggers
They say experience is the best teacher and in 2020, Mistress Experience pulled her usually carefree nappy afro into a severe bun and tapping at the board proceeded to call the class to session.
Lesson: There is no normal.
Normal is a social construct to describe what has become familiar to the majority. In 2020, as people adjusted to the COVID-19 safety guidelines and protocols, a phrase popped into use “new normal”. How long does it take for the new normal to become just normal? When and if things return back to the old normal, would it become the new old normal or the old new normal? Wait, was there even an old normal?
For those who put their lives on hold waiting for a return to normalcy looks like they have a long wait ahead. Some of whom won’t survive as evidenced by the ventures that have gone out of business permanently due to lockdown restrictions. Those who were quick to adapt carved out a niche, business models that fused digital market platforms with home delivery service had booming businesses. 2020 pushed the fast forward button on e-commerce and digital solutions and life after corona will likely not be going back to normal or rather what had previously become familiar.
Soul Deep, Soul, Trap, House, Ballad Singer/Songwriter
Ckanyiso DatGuy, Comedian, Actor, Head of Simuka Comedy Academy at Simuka Comedy
Adapt. There has been a new way of entertainment in the arts sector. Stand up comedy lives on live performance, so it meant that there are no shows. Instead of crying foul, we adapted to online presence, producing more content for an online audience.
Ulenni Okandlovu, Multi-disciplinary Artist
Never let your fame/spotlight grow bigger than your wallet! Be careful of the exposure you get, who gives it to you and at what cost! If it’s worth it, take it!
Thembelihle Terry-Lynne Zulu, Digital Storyteller, Creative Consultant, Mandela Washington Fellow 2019, Conceptualiser, Copywriter
The biggest lesson I learnt in 2020 was that not all the people who call themselves creatives are truly creative. We flirt with the idea of being creatives but we don’t have what it takes to make it happen. We hid behind “our day jobs” and the lockdown came and it became evident that what we lack is the discipline and dedication.
The old adage says, “a bad workman blames his tools,” in this case we have seen every excuse under the sun. The truth is, creativity is unlike the conditional love y’all bring to umjolo. Being creative is against all odds, whatever it takes, no holds barred and whatever you make it. So when challenges come, it’s up to you to ensure that you creatively adapt and pivot. “I think outside the box,” the box was taken away in 2020 and y’all failed when it was time to show and prove. You had the opportunity to completely rewrite the rules and that didn’t happen.
Moe Chanda, Journalist, Development Practitioner
2020, has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I Lost so many loved ones, my work disrupted and never mind everything else is behind the scenes. Radio is my love and it has been therapeutic in a way despite the pressure of the pandemic; it got me focusing on a lot of conversations on various programmes. Of course, as a creative, talk about the year of “reckoning” one thing for sure, it got me thinking how much one can push themselves to survive and reinvent. One of my biggest lessons was trusting my instincts. For so long I would procrastinate and be afraid of taking a risk. So yeah, I’m working on something and 2021 should be fresh and interesting.😉 Oh, and yes self-care. Moe got to realise no matter what, “self care” matters, your mental frame works better and for creatives, lockdown and a whole lot of other restrictions, self care is a priority not a priveledge.
Amanda Tayte-Tait Marufu, Digital Marketer, Author/Script Writer, Blogger, Music Consultant, Producer and co-founder of Visual Sensation
This year I lost my uncle. He was the kind one, the one who brought everyone together. One minute he was here and the next he wasn’t.
Everyone talked of this pandemic like it wasn’t happening. For the longest time, I was constantly reading posts of statistics. I heard people say, ‘it’s not that bad, not that many people are dying,’ so often I started to believe it.
It’s easy to discount a number on a chat as something that isn’t happening but then in a moment, it was real. I was sitting on my bed saying prayers through zoom and watching my uncle get buried.
It was the first time I had experienced a loss like this; without the ability to hug anyone in my family; the ability to travel; he ability to reach out and console; the ability to say goodbye. It was the first time I really felt the distance that this pandemic had created.
It was this moment I appreciated every single time I had gotten to touch, love and hug the people I love more than ever before. It was watching my cousins from across the screen crying and only being able to watch.
This taught me the importance of community. It taught me the importance of creativity and innovation.
Imagine going through 2020 without Zoom or Skype or WhatsApp and all the other platforms that allowed us to connect. Imagine going through 2020 without the movies and books and music that allowed us in those moments when it was all too much to take a break and escape.
This is the year that I started to admire art like never before and see the importance of a single person’s creation and how it can bring together a family during a time where all we can feel is distance.
Through Zoom, we met, we cried, we sang, we watched and we supported one another. In the one moment that the distance felt like it was all-consuming, creativity allowed us to find a way to come together.
Don Dada, Humanitarian, Multi-Platinum Artist, Radio Host
Dj Iroq, Wheel Spinner
Invest in virtual markets. Have your content in its entirety online. Be able to sell that content online, other than depending on live shows and club acts. We’d planned a mega album launch for Jah Prayzah’s 10th album and that didn’t happen for obvious reason. However, a new avenue presented itself in the form of YouTube. To this day, Jah’s content has over 30 millions views, now translate that into currency. If it wasn’t for the lockdown, we wouldn’t;t have known that there is a lot of money in the virtual market. Learn to adapt. Jah made an album hoping to get money from live shows and tours, but that didn’t happen. He had to adapt to the online community. Adapt to whatever situation you find yourself into.