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Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe addresses the media at Afya House in Nairobi during the ministry’s daily updates on the coronavirus. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Something stinks like a fish that’s rotting from its head. We’re supposed to be in the grip of a global pandemic but somehow there’s still time to play politics; to plan for an election that’s two years away amid the chaotic response to a virus that could kill many of us right now.

Someone please make it make sense. No matter which way I think about it, I keep coming back to two scenarios. Either some people are manipulating a public health emergency for political gain. Or this public health emergency is not as life threatening as they would have us believe. Whichever way you look at it, something stinks.

Not to be a conspiracy theorist – well, maybe a little bit – but the powers that be are treating this pandemic very normally. It’s as if it’s just another opportunity to overspend and under deliver.

Come on, now. Isn’t Covid-19 supposed to be a matter of life and death? Aren’t people’s lives at stake? Isn’t the economy taking a real beating? If the answer to all these questions is yes, where is the time for all these ‘long knives’ shenanigans? For real, for real, what gives?

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In economic circles, the saying goes that "the time to buy is when there's blood in the streets”. In other words, the best time to make a fortune is when the markets are depressed. A time when very few people have the money or the wherewithal to invest.

If you’re looking for a reasonable answer to all these questions, blood in the streets is probably it. The best time to make calculated political moves with long lasting effects is when the people are in collective trauma, whether that trauma is spontaneous, engineered, or a serendipitous mix of both.

And so the Covid-19 restrictions have been extended for another 21 days. We’re supposed to be ‘flattening the curve’ but if the experiences of other countries are anything to go by, there are no real indications that the curve will stay flat once the isolation edicts are lifted. If lockdowns are the main ‘cure' for corona, then the logical conclusion would be to stay locked down forever.

Obviously, that is highly impractical. As is the implication that we will wash our hands compulsively, and wear masks until the end of time. Of course, there is talk of a vaccine, but that comes with its own set of socio-political implications.

The opposition to Madagascar’s alleged Covid-19 cure should give you some idea that not everyone is invited to the disease management table. Some cures are more equal than others, and the pockets that will be lined by the sale of anti-Covid medication are few and predetermined – in my opinion.

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An opinion that is not based on empirical evidence, much like the frenzied approach that may governments have taken. An approach that in many respects has caused more harm than good. It is only a matter of time before citizens begin to rebel. Heck, here in Kenya we’ve already begun to breach the witch’s circle that was drawn around us, ostensibly to protect us from the new corona spirit. 

The lockdown in Eastleigh is lax. Mask wearing in some parts of Nairobi is a myth, as is social distancing and working from home. Washing hands has become a perfunctory exercise to gain entry into shops, malls and other places of business.

As for the curfew, slowly but surely the limits are being stretched by long lines of vehicular and pedestrian traffic who find themselves gridlocked on the premise that they are trying to get home on time, while already late.

It’s a hot mess, and that’s not taking into account our mental health. The psychic energy of this pandemic is heavy. The confinement, loss of income and anxiety that comes with the uncertainty, is taking a toll that will lead to some version of post-traumatic stress disorder. It is not well with us, and the cracks are going to reveal themselves sooner or later.

Meanwhile, some folks are drawing daggers and facing off at high noon in the name of this, that and the other thing. Poetical theatrics are once again taking centre stage. Really? This is not about normalcy and abnormality anymore — this is just macabre.

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Which raises the ultimate question: What are we going to do about it? Now that the world has been turned on its head, how do we come out of lockdown and ensure that it is not business as usual? If I’m honest, I don’t have the answers. The only thing I’m sure of is that we shall overcome. That we shall.


Covid-19 Flattening the Curve Playing politics  Playing politics
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