From a media personnel to an entrepreneur and now farmer, Tshinandala Khangale (VhaVenda) was born and bred in Venda, Limpopo province. He is a journalism graduate who further studied a post graduate diploma in TV production. He has worked for different media houses and some government departments until he decided to start his own business. He started a leisure and entertainment business and worked as a director. The business had swimming pools, picnic sites, playground for children. They also offered venue for events like weddings, birthday parties and music festivals. The business was doing really well until Covid 19 ‘happened’.
When we first heard media reports on COVID-19 outbreak in China sometime in December 2019, it sounded far fetched. We were a bit shaken after the first case of corona virus was reported in Durban, South Africa. Even then, it didn’t bother us much in the far flung provinces such as Limpopo, Vhembe District Municipality. Soon after that, the numbers of infected persons kept growing rapidly. Our president declared a state of emergency and announced 21 days lockdown starting on the 26th of March in an attempt to flatten the curve. It is at this stage that it sunk in that this virus was really serious. “We were forced to close down our leisure and entertainment business hoping it will reopen soon after the 21 days of lockdown were over. Instead, things got worse. More and more people lost their jobs while businesses struggled to survive. Similarly, we laid off our staff since we lost income due to covid-19 lockdown regulations.”
We had to re-think our business in order to sustain ourselves. We then decided to utilize an empty space at the corner of our park premises and we planted cabbages for sale. Indeed it proved to us that coronavirus is real and a game changer.
A business mogul Jack Ma says “for business people, this year is not for profit but for staying alive. Staying alive will be a great profit.”
Moving from being a professional media personnel to an entertainment business owner and then become a cabbage farmer is a huge jump and serious adjustments had to be made. I am still to see the fruits of my labour since I started farming not too long ago. Our first harvest will be at the end of August. I can almost say with certainty that coronavirus brought with it a mixed bag of both social and economic endeavors. Depending on which side of the fence one is standing, Covid-19 may be disastrous or beneficial. It is a coin with two sides. It is how we respond to it that matters. If we follow safety protocols and stay alive we stand to benefit in the new normal that this pandemic has brought us. But if we are negligent and ignore the safety protocols, we may miss the opportunity to realise the new normal that this virus has brought us. I learned that there is nothing permanent. We just have to be prepared for the unforeseen eventualities.