Wakenya wenzangu, like you, I am watching with grave concern as the coronavirus pandemic ravages the world. I am particularly worried that our people in Kenya do not recognize the gravity of this pandemic. As the government tries to implement travel restrictions and lockdowns, many Kenyans seem to take it as a joke. When ordered to wear face masks outside, many Kenyans walk around without masks and are doing business as usual. While there are many Kenyans who can’t afford lockdowns, most violators do not belong to these groups: living in informal settlements, internally displaced, casual workers, “biashara ndogo ndogo,” and more. Some of the people playing “hide and seek” with the police in the Panya roots, seems to be people with resources.
Who will sound the warning so that our people can take heed and save themselves? Police violence will not help the situation. With support for food, rent relief, water, and health services, our vulnerable communities will survive.
Please join me in urging local media to show the images of the devastation COVID-19 is unleashing around the world, especially in New York, the epicenter of the pandemic in the US. The trailer morgues and tent hospitals send a chill through my heart. People are dying without loved ones, and others are dying at home because 911 was not available to ferry them to the emergency rooms. Photos and cries of overworked and overwhelmed health workers should serve as a warning to our people. Once these pandemic starts spreading in the community, governments are incapable of stopping the infection and deaths on time. Having ventilators will save lives, but it doesn’t guarantee the survival of some.
We need to help spread the word that COVID-19 is a deadly disease that kills anyone in its path. Those who survive, the jury is still out about the long term damage on their lungs and hearts. You may think, well, people are surviving — you may be one of the lucky ones to survive. If you do, you may end up serving death to your family and friends because you may be asymptomatic. The infection may have long term effects on your life.
Kenyans, please stay at home to save your life and that of your loved one. The World Health Organization warns African countries to prepare for the worse. We should learn from what we see in New York, Italy, and Spain. We know it is coming, but we can stop it if we work together and do our part to save ourselves.
By Pauline Muchina - Co-founder, African Women and Youth Initiative