The Scourge of the Pandemic
Testing The Constants, The Changes & Conformities and The Hope
Article by Sammy Brown Osimbo
It goes without saying that every living soul on the planet is now aware of the raging pandemic of the Corona virus. Many of us were yet to be born before a disease of such stellar and astronomical proportions was ever witnessed. This disease in just a few months has made child’s play of greatly feared diseases such as HIV/Aids, Ebola and the list goes on. It has people shaken to the core. Parents have locked their children in their houses, businesses have closed down and we have had to contend with distant greetings from even people we love and have known all our lives. Cultures have been revised and things are just not the same any more. Is it not amazing to live in such times, especially if we are privileged to live through it? Conspiracy theorists and prophets alike (false or otherwise) have had a field day. Family whatsapp groups have been awash with forwarded messages of how to treat and some even cure the disease. Even men of the cloth have not been left behind in their prophecies and even claims to heal the affected. Some have even dared the government to be given chance to perform the miracles. It is no wonder here in Mombasa our sleep was once cut short with claims that the cure or the corona virus had finally been found. That it took the birth of a talking divine new born toddler to deliver the message that the cure was in fact sugarless black tea. Yes, take a moment to sink that in, yes, the cure has always been with us. We had just not been taking it at the right time and of course wrongfully adding sugar to it. How unfortunate!
For many, the year 2020 began with a lot of resolve and new energy. The start of the new decade has however just put brakes on the rush we thought we could not survive without. It has made nonsense of every of our New Year resolutions. I mean, who would have predicted that 2020 would be the year the whole world would take a lesson on washing of hands? This pandemic had brought about many changes and in turn many more adjustments and conformities that need to be made. Is there hope at the end of all this? That is yet to be seen. However, there are things that even the corona virus has not the power to change especially here in Kenya. Walk the mile with me as I open your eyes to a few of them.
The Constants – A look at the Government
It excites me (albeit not in the best of circumstances) to put down my two cents on this matter. Partly because I love my county Kenya but also because I believe to some insurmountable levels that we are an actual nut case. It’s cliché, yeah, but I’ll definitely pick on the government first; I mean, it’s the easiest of targets. In further pieces I will attempt to look at other parties but for today let us focus on the government of Kenya (whoever this refers to). The truth (mine or otherwise) stands that if it is not a bunch of clowns at the helm of our leadership then it is we the led that are either viewed as clowns are have simply resigned to the fate of the clowns leading us. That has been and it seems it will always be. Take for instance before the first confirmed case of the corona virus infection was reported by the government. Any loosely educated primary school drop out with just information from the news, would want to keep tabs with the trends. As other governments were closing their borders and airlines were shutting down and restricting entry to only citizens, guess what our government was doing. A plane full of people from the epicenter of the virus was allowed free entry and passage into the country. There is more, the government in their very caring nature politely asked them to quarantine themselves. Yes, believe it or not, they were asked to quarantine themselves. I’m not quite sure how careless or rather plain evil a government would be that it would gamble with the lives of its citizens. Of course we have not received any statistics relating the current ever surging numbers to the two hundred and eighty three passengers of that plane, but if you have lived in this goddamn country for even less than a year you’d be wise not to trust everything you hear this goddamn government say; for your own goddamn safety that is.
Just in case you were also not aware, it was during the same period that Kenyans, our very ow children of the soil, studying in china could not come back home from what looked like fear of causing new infections on their arrival. That the government could not liaise with Chinese government, round up the students, get them tested, put them back on a plan to Kenya, quarantine and monitor them for even 21 days then release them to their families once they have checked a clean bill of health is still a mystery.
Some would say ‘let us leave it to the gods’. It also seems our guys at the top will perpetually be on a wild goose chase with what seems to be additional blindfolds on. So we will wait for the numbers to rise to a certain level before our borders are closed to non-citizens, wait a little further till we have more confirmed cases for a curfew to be issued, then of course a little more for the numbers to be uncontrollable for a total lockdown to be issued. It’s a waiting game with the lives of Kenyans on the line. Even the corona virus could not scare away such complacency.
I am almost sure a corruption scandal is about to blow, probably after this wind of the pandemic slows down or passes. This is Kenya for crying out loud. As we wait for that to happen, we also keep waiting for the free government hand sanitizers the government itself displayed on TV. Here in 94 Estate, Mtopanga in Mombasa-Kenya we are yet to see them. Perhaps the number of the infections in the country is not yet high enough. There’s the masks too lest we forget. That fact that it is now that we are being advised to put the masks on is just pure nonsense. The fact that the government is yet to do a mass production of these masks and distribute them is also gobbledygook. Kenyans left with nothing to eat from the already crippling economy have now, with no knowledge of criteria of creating these masks, gorged out their creative acumen and are now manufacturing masks for sale. Do a quick survey of some of the masks on sale and it should not surprise you when we begin to hear of cases of death by suffocation. Children are ignorantly getting their hands on these homemade masks and the risk factor is just preposterous. I mean, if the government is not caring enough to provide these masks for free then why not sell it to us. That way we are assured at least of the quality. Will you then be surprised when Kenyans begin picking up used masks and skimpily washing them for resale?
One thing we can thank the government for is strengthening the police force. They have had enough food, exercise and possibly intoxication to harass the already suffering Kenyan. Even that, the corona virus has not been able to cure. Not only have they been strengthened but they have also been made immune to the virus. They are armed to the teeth with heavy clothes, bullet proof vests, helmets that barely cover the top of their heads, heavy boots, whips, clubs and riffles to protect them from unarmed civilians trying to survive. The corona virus is yet to scare them. Some things just remain constant. They monitor, supervise and enforce the orders on curfews and social distancing from their overloaded trucks. Some things just do not change. In fact, the police without masks arrest civilians for going on a jog without masks. Hopefully that kind of stupidity is not as infectious as the corona virus is. Government institutions and bodies even though there is some noticeable change are still running things with the same old bush mentality. A t a time when utmost care for one another should increase, the same remains constant. A few days ago I had the unfortunate duty of taking my wife to a public hospital. It was great to see that the directive on social distancing was being observed but it broke my heart to see what it had caused. Patients seeking medical attention had been locked out of the hospital so that the hospital would not be crowded. Unfortunately, outside the hospital there was no shade for the patients, no place to sit, nothing. ‘Just stay out’ was the order and it had to be followed. Sickly patients were now strewn all over the place. Pregnant women under the scorching sun almost regretting what they had gotten themselves into. Women with little children crying all over the places, even those with recently born infants were not being shown any mercy. It was a pathetic scene. I could see the purpose of the social distancing being defeated as women pressed together against some quickly dying shade. Is it the common systemic failure that the virus has failed to cure? Could we reboot and make a go at another attempt?
As we brace ourselves for what may turn out to be tough times ahead, it is only proper that the government begins to yank a few things here and there and take advantage of this already bad situation to make a few things right. The modus operandi cannot remain the same. It is still not too late.