By Mfonobong Inyang
Even though we are just halfway through 2020, it has already proven to be a year that has forever changed the trajectory of the entire world or, at least, accelerated its evolution. We are living in an era that is unprecedented by every conceivable standard but here we are, as resilient as ever. The past few weeks have really hit hard with high profile deaths, especially those we wished were around much longer. I lost an uncle on Father’s Day, imagine such irony.
Perhaps just surviving this year is a now valid goal. My concern is that we might take these Ls without learning crucial lessons. That we might actually waste this crisis, both as individuals and as a group, that we may not realize the urgency for systemic change. We need to begin asking difficult questions, telling ourselves some home truths, and having sincere conversations. I just hope we don’t miss this window of opportunity to make a shift.
Superman Is Really Clark Kent!
When this pandemic hit home, everyone quickly realized who the real heroes were: the frontline workers who risk it all to ensure the rest of us are protected. You would think all the stops would be removed so that they are always in high spirits, but no, it’s quite the opposite. Most medical personnel had to threaten downing tools for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to be provided to them, those concerned were dragging their foot when it came to promptly paying hazard allowances, some LAWMA workers dumped their uniforms after months of being owed salaries and the situation with security officers is not any different.
I mean, these people are not asking for their sculptures on Mount Rushmore. Just the basics! Are we waiting for things to go south, so we can perform the ceremonial moment of silence? Is the health sector still going to be business as usual or this Coronavirus will cause us to get our ducks in a row? They are, first, humans and they have families too! We shouldn’t and mustn’t develop a morbid love for dead heroes.
Brother Yeezy Once Said…
In between his sometimes eccentric behaviour, Kanye West does share very profound insights. One of such has stayed with me for a very long time. When he said “…if you admire somebody, you should go ahead and tell them. (Most) people never get the flowers while they can still smell them.” I felt that. Doesn’t it feel awkward that some people are being shown more ‘love’ when they die than when they lived? Suddenly they are now popular and almost everybody has something nice to say about the deceased.
For all my love for writing, you will hardly catch me scribbling eulogies. I am more enthusiastic about celebrating people here and now. I put in the effort to remember people’s birthdays, surprise calls, those little things. So if there is someone that has been on your mind for a while, pick up the phone and call that person. Send an email, text, or chat them up on your socials. Our egos shouldn’t be bigger than our friendships. How about giving people befitting lives more than we give them befitting burials.
E. B. Things
I am surprised at how surprised we are when the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) releases the number of new infections at the end of every day. We wonder where and how these figures increase, yet some of us refuse to wash our hands, refuse to mask up, refuse to maintain physical distancing, and refuse to submit ourselves for tests when exhibiting symptoms or reporting those who do.
The authorities set guidelines to help us flatten the curve but some people believe that they are more equal than others. George Orwell will turn in his grave! Some of us defy the freeze on inter-state travel via roads and domestic travel via the aerospace, defiantly hold concerts, congregate in large numbers at religious houses, for political reasons, burials and spread false information on the virus, yet we are surprised that the numbers are rising!
If you’ve been paying attention to the news over the past few days, you can tell what is important to some leaders across the country. They are chasing rats while the roofs of their houses are on fire. This pandemic is obviously not top priority. At state level, some leaders are not making data-driven decisions regarding the re-opening of public places and mass gatherings. Instead, they are pandering to vested interests.
We must state things as they truly are, this is unacceptable. I understand the challenge of finding a delicate balance between the economy and health but acting like this virus doesn’t exist will not make it magically disappear. According to the NCDC, no state is free of infections. This should be a matter of urgent public health importance where multi-layered collaboration should be the goal, not an attempt to discredit the agency’s work. The people are the ultimate losers because all this trickles down to the average person.
Do Nigerian Lives Really Matter?
We, as citizens, usually ask what the worth of a Nigerian’s life is when someone is gunned down extra-judicially, when people die cheap deaths owing to negligence or when we’re treated with bias by other countries. The real question is, do we value our own lives? If truly we are in the phase where this pandemic is to be contained more by personal responsibility than enforcement, why are we not matching our words with our actions?
We can’t tweet this pandemic away. We can’t play the Ostrich either. This is a real threat we have on our hands. Read up the story of the Spanish Flu, what they did right, and what they did wrong in those times. Read up what is known as a second wave; the more virulent strain of viruses. Read up the sacrifices New Zealand made to get where they are now with the COVID-19 fight. Trust me, we don’t have the infrastructure to cater to an overwhelming surge in new cases, so our actions will be what determine the trajectory of this battle.
First Of Her Name
I came across a speech delivered by Ibukun Awosika a long time ago before all of these. Although her words were on a different subject and for a different audience, they are very relevant, especially at this critical time.
“We’re forgetting that we need each other. We’re forgetting that we need to look out for each other. We’re forgetting that except the least of us is taken care of, the best of us isn’t safe. You can look your neighbour in the eye no matter where they come from and think of what is in their interest as well as in your interest. No matter how smart you are, you’re not smart enough to survive by yourself. No matter how rich you’re, your wealth alone cannot keep you alive and keep you safe. That we all need one another, looking out for one another and understanding that this is our home and it’s a home we must protect.”
Truer words haven’t been spoken.