Categories
Thoughts

Rona Made Me Do It

Allow me to rant.

You would hardly find a situation where one person bears the role of judge, jury and executioner. But today I am all three. Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream, that all would be equal irrespective of the color of their skin. However in Africa, the dream of the civil rights activist takes on new nuances as tribal allegiances and socio-economic strata pull back the progress of a new, equal-opportunity Africa.

In Kenya we say “Myonge hana haki” and there is nothing like disaster to make this even more evident. Unaccounted for, unforeseen the Coronavirus Pandemic came and swept the globe into a frenzy, forcing billions to retreat into their homes, avoiding  gatherings and practicing good hygiene.  This is all easily said and done if you live in a first world nation, when working from home is a viable option, where government services still function despite government restrictions. In my beloved nation, these times have only served to expose the incompetence of the men and women we call leaders. I has shown them to be insensitive, and lacking in humanity, forcing citizens from their homes, and doing little for those impacted by floods. It has shown their selfish nature, their “me-first” mentality and the major gaps in government that leaves a nation utterly unprepared on the brink of chaos.

Where is our pride? When will we stop begging for assistance from international organizations? We continue to play into their narratives, like soldiers following their commanders. Whether or not the pandemic is real, its effects are felt and the outcome is expected to be deadly. The leaders we elected put their needs above those who elected them, never giving a moment to consider what the people have eaten, how children attend school or the effect of the lockdown on thousands of businesses is.

Instead their focus lies in publicity stunts to pacify the angry masses and senseless grandiose gestures whose only purpose is to keep them in the news. “ You might be hungry, your business might be flatlining but here is a new road for your trouble.” Mheshimiwa, what sort of logic is that? Instead of equipping teachers to teach from home, enabling doctors to fight the pandemic, restructuring the financial sector for e-commerce to flourish, National Assembly members would rather be out in the wee hours of the night flouting COVID-19 restrictions; enjoying a nightcap or taking part in the viral Jerusalema challenge oblivious to the troubles of its people. This was an opportunity to improve electrical and internet connectivity, to ensure all are equally equipped. It was a chance to re-ignite the spirit of the ‘Nyumba-Kumi’ initiative, to improve communal safety, health and prosperity. The season offered a  chance to re-evaluate the efficacy of health sector initiatives such as the  Beyond Zero initiative and work towards improving their capacity, bringing healthcare services to the grassroots.

There is hardly any compassion, in this nation that was known for ubuntu where we once proudly chanted ‘Harambee’ indeed it seems that our foundation was built on falsehoods, as the leaders pulled the wool over our eyes and continue to do so. The nation’s people are blind, so desperate we are clutching at straws hoping for a chance to find our way out of this quagmire.

One would think that this pandemic has only affected the poor, but the reality is the middle and upper class also cry behind the doors of their glass houses. With families forced to stay indoors, there is an increase in domestic violence cases, suicide and many more report struggling with their mental health at this time. In a society that shies away from such serious concerns, it seems that the pandemic has challenged every aspect of our social structure. It has made us question who we think we are, the essence of the nation.

But today as self-appointed judge, jury and executioner I ask the Kenyan leadership to leave their posts, never to return to governance ever again. Their mentality “it is our time to eat” overrode the concerns of the masses, showing they are selfish to the core, lacking in any traits of true leadership.

Nonetheless, the nation is resilient and strong, I know its people will rise again…they continue to do so daily. The Mama Mboga always has something to offer, college students have decided to innovate new machines to help manage the pandemic, and more individuals have found their voice through business.

Though this unfortunate event has taken away lives, in a sense new life has sprung and the can-do spirit carries us all through to another day.

Categories
Thoughts

Isolation

God hit the pause button on life.

It has been several days of reflection, self-evaluation. A period of gaining new perspective and new understanding. Just like everyone else, the past few days have been riddled with anxiety, discomfort and a feeling of unpreparedness. But we move, regardless.

Since the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the public sphere in Wuhan, China in late December 2019, it seemed almost unlikely that it would reach the place I call home, much less affect daily life. Based on the reports online at the time, it felt far removed from my community. But in a matter of days the disease has swept across the globe claiming thousands of lives. The situation snowballed into a global crisis.

And now, we live a day at a time.

Holed up in their respective homes, society has taken the government-enforced quarantines and curfews as an opportunity to return to simpler, easier times while under quarantine. The story is the same for many others across the globe. If nothing else, this killer respiratory disease has served as a reminder on the uncertainty of life, never mind the fragility of the human race. We have created a world for ourselves, however we often overlook how feeble our lives, systems and governments truly are against calamity.

And now we live out our precious days.

Life is fleeting, and as an optimist it is essential to continue to see the glass as half full in all circumstances, lest we drown in the sorrows that come with every news headline. So what is the silver lining at this difficult time? Is it the isolation, the disruption of routine that we often find comfort in, or is it in the rising levels of anxiety in the general public?

In this time, I have found that many just as I; have found time to do some much needed soul-searching. A time to wind down, as the world grinds to a halt. Indeed, there are many theories on the dangers of this time, however there is no running from it. The empty streets, unattended churches, unoccupied skyscrapers are an indication that it is time to retreat, a time to find refuge in your isolation. Living in a highly interconnected world, we are constantly bombarded with entertainment, news and so much more. But here is our chance to step away from all of it, and start fresh. Unplug in isolation.

Isolation is often associated with loneliness. However, I affirm that it could be a chance to withdraw for our betterment. Ishani Bhattacharya shared some wise words on the topic of isolation. ‘Hold company with yourself so sacred that even when you are alone, you are whole.’

Isolation may not be such a bad thing. Take it as a time to be introspective and re-examine life as you may know it, a moment to meditate and contemplate on the decade that awaits. And perhaps a time to pray for what is to come.

 This too shall pass.