It’s been an unprecedented year. It started off on a high note with 2020 being pronounced with an American accent; as you’ve likely just silently done.
2020 looked so bright we’d need to don ‘shades’ (dark glasses) a wit advised. Then just hours before unlucky day Friday 13th came the announcement in March that we all wished away, yet was inevitable: “Kenya has reported its first case of Coronavirus,” the Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe announced. Schools were hurriedly closed. Fear gripped the country and its Siamese twin, confusion, followed. Last week, I shared three of my six lessons from 2020; today I share the other three.
Timing is important when opportunity strikes
A surgical mask, now being hawked in the streets for a paltry ten shillings, went for twenty times that amount, and was a rare sight weeks into and after we had our first case. Those that timed it well, knowing it was a fleeting moment to be exploited cashed in; unfortunately, as happens in most cases, many others were merely ‘me too’ business people. And they were left holding tonnes of masks they could only sell at a loss because the market was flooded with them. One supermarket was even giving away pairs of surgical gloves for free to all its shoppers.
Ishi nao uwajue
This Kiswahili proverb says that, “You don’t quite know someone until you live with them.” Many parents have ‘seen’ their children in their true colours, for the first time this year. “Are these my children?” one even wondered out loud to me. For many homes the longest they had resided (not lived) as a family was the November-December school holiday, and even then, loosely so. Curfew dictated that it become intimately so. Tensions and problems couldn’t be kicked further down the road as was custom. Now they had to be addressed! Many families got innovative ways that strengthened their relationships. Sadly, in some, there was an increase in domestic violence and some marriages irrevocably damaged. Ishi nao uwajue.
Human beings are a paradox
Amazing isn’t it? How the mind works. In an ‘open’ and ‘healthy’ economy, parents dreaded the November-December holiday lamenting, “Now what do we do with the children for two months?” This year they’ve successfully spent nine months with them in a ‘closed’ and ‘unhealthy’ economy.
Strange, isn’t it? When we do it to ourselves, it’s OK. When it’s imposed on us it’s not. When we social distanced ourselves from our families and colleagues, as we did, mildly, with the cell phone and email, and wildly, with WhatsApp and other social media, we justified it citing convenience. Our family gatherings and office weekly meetings converted into WhatsApp groups, for instance.
Then when it became policy and quickly law, we looked at social distancing as we would a leper. We saw it as foreign. Was it, though?
Having, comparatively, been Divinely spared the agonies of Coronavirus, 2021 can only be prosperous. Cheers!
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