How Covid-19 reminds us again that life is what it is

Sunday May 31 2020


By Bernard Tabaire

By late Thursday afternoon, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention was reporting that nearly 125,000 people in Africa had been confirmed as having contracted Covid-19, with almost 3,700 dead and more than 51,000 having recovered.

Africa has far more people than the United States, but the great land of Mr Donald Trump the tramp tipped 100,000 dead a day earlier. If you live in Uganda, the partial lockdown is easing. The anxiety, however, may be a different story. It is hard to tell what will happen.

We have already celebrated Easter and Eid el-Fitr behind our walls, with a whimper. Unprecedented. There is plenty to worry about. Including this one: there not being general elections in February 2021.

Amongst the many ways I am coping with my many founded and unfounded fears is to look for off-beat stories on the continent. Then I am reminded life as we know it isn’t about to slip away entirely.

From Ghana, Al Jazeera News carried a piece on a 95-year-old World War II veteran walking 23km in one week to “raise funds for healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic in Africa”.

Many of you do 23km in one morning or evening, but this veteran has summoned his age and wisdom to take it slow and achieve a defined goal. “Joseph Hammond logged 3.2 kilometres … each day to reach his target on Africa Day [May 25] … in Ghana’s capital, Accra. As of Thursday, he had raised almost $26,000.”


To fight the “invisible war” that is Covid-19, Mr Hammond aims to raise $613,000. This great grandpa has his greyed head in the right place. He deserves a cheer and plenty of support #WalkWithHammond
From west to east. “Police in Mozambique have deported 43 sex workers who were arrested for violating coronavirus restrictions,” the BBC reported.

I am surprised no leader on the continent has demonstrated enlightenment by declaring prostitution an essential service during lockdown.

Across the border in Kenya, the top leadership there has had to deal close-up with some muck up. President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Thursday that his son had violated the government’s dusk-to-dawn curfew order in the coastal city of Mombasa. The young man had sneaked off, away from his mother and grandmother (the president’s mama), to go have some fun in the night.

In an interview with NTV Kenya, Mr Kenyatta said: “I asked him: ‘Fine, you’ve gone out, had your fun and enjoyed yourself. But now you have come back and you are with your grandmother… Your grandmother is 80 years plus. If something happens to your grandmother as a result of what you have done, how will you live with yourself?’ I told him it is not about me; it is not about listening to me. It is about how you will live with yourself.”

Since when has any president said: “it is not about listening to me…” Family is always interesting. Even our Sabalwanyi Yoweri Museveni the other day was talking very concernedly about his biological bazukulu in the context of schools re-opening. In a number of respects, Covid-19 has given almost equal headache to us the small people and the Big Kahunas. It won’t be the last time life reminds us: you are all so human.

Bernard Tabaire is a media trainer and commentator on public affairs based in Kampala.