I am here thinking

That maybe we here in Africa & especially here in Kenya have got our priorities around this pandemic wrong.

Think of it this way. Since the first case was announced almost a month ago, 14 people are said to have died of the virus. In that time more people have been killed by police enforcing the curfew, mudslides, malaria & starvation among other deaths we deal with on a daily basis.

In the meantime, we have brought some businesses to a halt & I am sure as is common to this regime, we have created a few millionaires through no hard work on their part but sleaze.

By closing schools and colleges, we have cost school going children to lose time, endangered many others for whom school provides a safe haven, even if just for a brief moment.

Well, I guess social distancing measures work. I have seen vids about the Spanish flu of years past & how different cities faired. Maybe medics are right that this disease is different from the viruses we already know & we should stay at home for the time being, at least.

I want to know how some places have only 1 case since they announced their first case. Was that the only testing kit they had? Or did they find this patient zero before they came into contact with any other person?

I guess I am tired of these restrictions. It’s not really that I want to go anywhere specific. No. If you have watched the movie Sarafina, there is this scene Ms Masombuga says all she wants is freedom. That’s all I want. To move when I want to. I hate masks.

I just want all this to end. That’s all.


Click on the file above to see data for any country you have in mind.

 

Because of the lock down

I have nothing interesting to tell you. In fact, I have nothing at all to tell you. Well, I think by closing schools too early when the country just had one case, the president erred and now millions of students countrywide are doing nothing with themselves but eating. Online classes is not possible for the majority. They just do not have the equipment to make it possible.

Our parliament is just a house for busy bodies. Our MPs are clueless. These two are not news. This pandemic has just made it more clear.

But the Americans for the first time in history have a president who knows everything. No wonder he is making America great again!

I hate this staying at home business! My couch will need new cushions because of the beating they have received in the last many days.

Happy Sunday everyone. Keep well. Eat well. And exercise a bit, if you can. And if you can help it, drink some.

Right of reply

Julian Kamau has written a letter to us privileged Kenyans to check our privilege. For clarity, you are privileged if

You have stocked your fridge with food to last you a month during this coronavirus period, you have stocked your pantry with dry foods to last you a week or a month, you are working from home with a laptop, you own a car (s), use a taxi or are picked from home and dropped by the office car, you live in a gated community or have 24-hour security at your home, your biggest worry right now is inconsistent internet or the disrupted power meaning you won’t watch your favorite series on Netflix, Showmax or DSTV.

Why is Julian so irked by this class of Kenyans? She thinks we believe

The Kenyans you see being brutally beaten by the police on the streets are not lazy, ignorant or difficult.

which leaves me asking where did she get this idea from? Is she projecting her feelings on the rest of the privileged class as she calls it? For one, I think our cops and those who lead them need a course on humanness. More importantly, they need mass brain transplants. They collectively as a group have no brains. Or maybe, Nietzsche was right, in mobs, insanity or madness is the norm not the exception. Kenyans know their government is violent. That there is little difference between the colonial and post colonial regimes is evident to anyone who bothers to check. Violence is always an order away. Dialogue is not an option. In fact all the opportunities are closed once an order to use force is issued.

Instead of throwing aspersions at the privileged class, we should question the government’s logic of leaving out taxis, public transport vehicles out of essential service providers? How are people to go home? On the one hand, these buses and vans have to operate at below 60% capacity, how are people to go home? Further, the government asked factories to operate in shifts, how will employees get to work? Employers, why not shorten your work hours so people can go home early and not be afoul of the law?

I respect the non-privileged class so much to believe they can speak for themselves. I also believe they are capable of assessing their situation and deciding how best to proceed. Let’s not make victims of people who don’t consider themselves victims. Our lives are intertwined & a lockdown would affect many of us negatively. I am an architect & my income depends on people being able to invest & construct. So while according to Julian I am a very privileged Kenyan, I am alive to the challenges of the casual worker in a construction site. If I close my sites completely, I consign them to starvation.

So I disagree with Julian where she writes

You must first know that you are privileged then use that position to speak for the less privileged in society or just keep your mouth shut.

because I think even the poor or less privileged can speak for themselves. Why appoint yourself their speaker and push them further away from where they can be heard? In fact, in these times, it is not just the less privileged who need to be heard, but everyone whose livelihood is on the line. That hotel employee, that bar waiter, the hotel owner, airline employee, and anyone else adversely affected by the continued restrictions on movement.

I find this accusation

Unlike you, coronavirus is just one of their problems but it’s the least of their problems. I know this might be too complex for you to comprehend

far fetched and unjustified. Many Kenyans privileged and non privileged alike understand how precocious our stations in life are. One is always a sickness away from poverty. I don’t know about Julian, but many of us belong to extended families with people in different stations or classes that only those blinded by fortune would be unaware of the problems of the lower classes.

But I agree with her that calls for total lockdown are ill advised without a commensurate solution to their daily needs. You cannot tell a person who is paid only on days worked to stay home to look at the roof and not provide for their basic needs. This corrupt government I am almost certain doesn’t have the means, the capacity or even the will to help the urban poor. If an allocation were to be made to help them, their numbers would be inflated & a handful of people will have a windfall.

So maybe, it is Julian who should know that the privileged Kenyan is not stupid. They are aware of what a lockdown would imply to their lives and everyone around them.

Thoughts out of season

We are living in strange times. Countries are effecting curfews in peace time. Flights have been grounded without a shot fired. There is no Bush to tell us you are either with us or with the terrorist ( an ultimatum that is no different from the terrorist).

The US economy, the largest in the world, has a 2.2T cheque to save its economy & as they are won’t to do, bail the rich in this trying times. I am not sure poorer countries have such deep pockets and their poor and homeless will fend for themselves. For example the tax reliefs announced by Uhuru only help those in formal employment. The lowering of VAT by 2% has such a limited range on most perishable goods and all.

In 2009/2010 the world suffered a flu pandemic (H1N1) and I don’t remember such shut downs. So far as I can remember, only meat products from severely affected countries were banned. And in the year starting June 2009 to August 2010 when the pandemic was declared over, about 60mn people had caught it and deaths, depending on who you ask were in the range of 200-575k world wide and I don’t think this novel coronavirus will get there.

I have been to the airport in the last two weeks and every time it looks like a ghost town. Passenger lounges that are usually bustling with activity are deserted. Restaurants are open only for take outs. It’s a bad way to live.

Gaddafi before he was killed said ‘they’ will make a virus, infect you with it and then sell you an expensive cure. Maybe 100 years from now when the lid will be lifted on secret documents, our descendants, if they will be still alive will find that this was a bad experiment. Question is, who benefits from a global meltdown? Is it a nation? A group of individuals?

Can’t we just go back to work? If we die we die. This must be one of those occasions people should say give me freedom or give me death!

And with that I go to ride. Damn coronavirus.

Postscript: if you live in a country that has used nerve gas, or some other chemical or biological weapon against her citizens or adversary, why do you think it would be beneath them to try it on a global scale to stimulate a response? Besides war has changed from boots on the ground to drones and all.

My barber has closed until further notice, don’t question my unkempt hair.

And while still on this, our police are shit. I think police use their heads as helmets or vessels to hold their ears in place. If anyone needs new brains, it is the police and those who lead them. How do you go about brutalizing people in the name of effecting a curfew when these people are just trying to get home?

And finally some dark story.

Appointment in Samarra by W S Maugham

There was a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me.  She looked at me and made a threatening gesture,  now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate.  I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me.  The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went.  Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, Why did you make a threating getsture to my servant when you saw him this morning?  That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise.  I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.

Making sense of the present crisis

In the days of my forefathers, when calamity befell the community, it was reasoned that the ancestors had been wronged and corrective measures were deemed necessary to appease them. Sacrifices and cleansing ceremonies would be arranged to please these ancestors. It was understood there would be both good and bad ancestral spirits. So it is particularly these bad spirits that would be appeased to stop the pestilence from decimating the population.

The missionaries came with their monotheistic religions with one powerful god. And in these times of crisis, I keep seeing texts and memes from my Christian friends that we have offended their powerful god through our godlessness, and all. One text I received this morning says god has decided to bring to a halt, temporarily, I think, the worship of sports, celebrities and even the public worship of the gods by ensuring people can’t go to church. And my godless self is here left wondering how unimaginative can people be?

It’s beyond the pale to claim that an all loving God has seen it fit to bring pestilence (& locusts) upon mankind because she has been displeased by a few people here and there. It is like killing of David’s son, as told in the Bible, for the transgressions of the father. It also brings to sharp focus the claim by the same group of persons regarding the vicarious redemption Jesus was meant to offer through his death. Was it for all time or it is like my android apps that need updates every few days?

The good news, if it can be called that, is this will end. People will die and those who remain will continue with the breeding business. Some people will lose faith. Some churches will grow in membership until such time as another crisis hits us or those who will be left.

When one looks at the statistics being shared around regarding the number of people who might get infected and die, fear and paralysis is likely to set in. We must find ways to be alive. To live meaningful lives even in the midst of the crisis. There is room, a lot of room, to be kind, useful and helpful to others.

If we die, we die but let’s die as we have lived.