It has been about over a week since the lockdown directive was issued by President Muhammadu Buhari for Lagos, Ogun and Abuja. A single blog post isn’t enough to capture even a fraction of what has transpired so far. Most people moved on with their lives with relative ease but for some others, they were literally ‘stuck’ between a rock and a hard place. Staying or working at home isn’t really a new thing with some people, many times they alternate between the office and the home. However, it hits differently when you’re told to do so – that becomes a hard pill for the naturally adventurous human spirit to swallow.
So, I selected a random, but not exhaustive, list of things that caught my attention. Some are just for light-hearted banter but the rest, for the most part are very instructive.
The Real Heroes
Not all heroes wear capes, most of them wear hazmat suits, helmets, goggles, hand gloves, boots and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in their fight against this pandemic. I must take a moment to especially celebrate all the medical personnel who are in the front-lines of this war; they are indeed our first line of defence. If putting oneself in harm’s way just to flatten the curve isn’t the definition of patriotism, I don’t know what is!
It is all shades of an epiphany, especially when we remember the heroine, Dr Ameyo Stella Adedevoh, who literally sacrificed herself, kept to her Hippocratic Oath and saved a nation from the Ebola scourge. The Ministry of Health and the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) also deserve some accolades for doing a ‘stellar’ job. We choose to give you these roses whilst you can still smell them and not when you’re gone. Hopefully, when all this is over – we will see the critical need to better resource that sector.
Social Distancing? Na Wetin Be That?
One of the recommended practices that mitigates the spread of this virus is social distancing – that is, people avoiding mass gatherings and personal contact as much as possible. It’s easy to practice this when you have a very spacious and, in most cases, palatial accommodation. It’s easy when you drive your own car, when you can afford to work from home or determine your itinerary.
It’s a hard sell for John Doe, who lives in a single-room apartment with his wife and four children – plus he has to share restroom, kitchen and bathroom with 34 other people. He also owns no car and has to cramp himself into a danfo bus with a motley crowd whose medical history he cannot ascertain. So the only distance he knows how to keep is the one between his hand and his mouth – because that’s how he gets by.
Relation-ships, Situation-ships, and Isolation-ships
This lockdown has proven to be a two-edged sword. Many people are consolidating their romance, finding out ways to bond and re-ignite the embers of love. Some people are finding out that loving a person is the easiest part, living with them perhaps is the major key alert. They cannot, at this period, use work as a cover for spending less time at home. Others, meanwhile, are just bored and are out to catch feelings just to fill in the gap. That’s why they suddenly have time to call and chat you up. Some people are so bored that they went back to playing ‘board’ games. I just fear that what isolation has joined together, post-isolation reality may put asunder. Which category do you belong?
Make Humanity Great Again!
Over the past days, we seem to have shown more empathy as humans, perhaps than I have ever seen. From applauding the medical personnel in the crucible of combat, educating other people about the virus, standing down on April Fool Day’s jokes, organizing e-concerts for our stans, numerous giveaways online, cash and food distribution offline, reporting incidences of suspected cases, volunteering for the different medical causes, and so on. Major respect to the ‘Billion geng’ – those persons and institutions who gave over 9-digits to support this fight. Let’s keep up this energy!
Chicken and Egg; Which One Comes First?
It has been a tough week, especially for decision-making. A lockdown has many implications – for health and the economy. In the words of Dr. Ola Brown, this “lockdown is a trade-off between lives and livelihood”. Many people are honestly struggling to comply with the stay-at-home directive. They find themselves having to choose between hunger and the virus – staying home which is safer or going out for daily gigs just to earn something – which increases the chances of exposure.
The Federal Government took this into consideration, hence the decision to allow markets open for four hours between 10am and 2pm every day. Also, the palliatives, which include conditional cash transfers and food items, are on-going. However, a palliative is exactly what is it – a palliative, not the silver bullet.
Business As Un-usual
That our lives will forever be changed after this pandemic isn’t news. We are finding out that there are other ways of doing things. Some people are getting used to it. I saw certain government officials leveraging the technology of e-conferencing for the very first time. Same for religious houses. Even the entertainers weren’t left out; many face-offs happened. Who would have ever thought that an era will come where we all saved the earth by washing our hands and staying at home? What a time to be alive!
Unfortunately, while we fight this global pandemic, there are other ‘viruses’ that are ravaging our people.
- Irresponsibility: What do you call a person who returns from a foreign trip and refuses to self-isolate? Or a person who lies about his/her travel history at a medical facility, thereby putting everyone there at risk? Or someone who thinks this is a time for clout-chasing and decides to prank-call the NCDC? Or the leader of a religious gathering who insists on physical meetings? Or the hosting of a house party during this pandemic?
- Ignorance: How can you explain when someone believes this virus doesn’t affect black people? Or it’s a rich man’s sickness?
- Fake News: People who declare they have vaccines that are not ratified by WHO? Or that this is caused by some generation of wireless networks?
To paraphrase the words of the great Thanos: These days do exact a heavy toll! But we can do this! Take responsibility, not just for yourself, but for those around you. Your carefulness can be compromised by your neighbour’s recklessness, so be your brother’s keeper in every sense of the word!
Remember that for now, there is no official vaccine for the virus, so let us focus on the preventive steps and not just curative ones. Concentrate on the ‘boring stuff’: social distancing, washing hands, contact tracing, and testing. Africa can’t afford to transform its absent medical infrastructure overnight.
Hang in there, this too shall pass!