For the past few days, I have been moving around at odd hours, bordering on breaking the rules of curfew. These often early morning trips have been the best spent hours of my week.
Following the spirit of Cheptegei, the champion, I have even managed to break some records of my own. At least twice this week, I broke the long-held record for who gets to office first, surprising then reigning champion. However, apart from improving my personal best, I have relished the other advantages which are only enjoyed by the early bird. In the pre-dawn hours, one doesn’t have to jostle with the crowds or deal with traffic jams.
The world is calm and one can lay their Covid-19 worries aside and breathe. The air is fresh and seems cleaner, unpolluted by the noise of political campaigns or the fumes arising from Kampalans’ daily hustle to survive.
While many terrible things can be attributed to the Covid-19 outbreak, the one definite positive in my case has been the silence that accompanied the lockdown and the still persisting curfew. Scientists say coronavirus shutdowns led to “the longest and most coherent global seismic (vibrations of the earth) noise reduction in recorded history”. According to the New York Times, a team of 76 scientists from more than two dozen countries reported that lockdowns from the Covid-19 pandemic led to a drop of up to 50 percent in the global noise linked to humans.
In my neighbourhood, the lockdown noise reduction was palpable. The church that used to go on all night, with the pastor casting out demons in the dead of night, finally fell silent. I hear that following months of closure, the house of worship might relocate and while I love the Lord God, I also believe in public order and doing things at the right time. Due to the Covid curfew, we are also still on a break from the all-night partygoers whizzing past on their boda boda or motor car, were cut off by the curfew and closing of bars and nightclubs. For a moment, the wild midnight cheers from football fans were no more. The world was simply quieter. And we all slept, some more peacefully than others. Many had various worries. And online, groups of people reported having more vivid dreams, possibly because we were all having deeper sleep.
Now that life is returning to some kind of normal, we are back to our old hustling ways, chasing money at the cost of everything else; boda bodas zooming around after dark, way after curfew time, buyers and sellers haggling over merchandise, as face masks lie abandoned, forgotten. As we keep talking about a new normal, we are fast slipping back into our old and familiar ways, rushing around, sacrificing health and safety as well as morals at the altar of money.
In order to reclaim this precious memory of a quiet earth and some sanity, sometimes one must search for it in the coolness while the world sleeps. Before the sun comes out to scorch the already burnt out pockets of the general populace, one can sit back, dream and plan for a future in which there will be neither Covid-19 nor nasty politicians. When the air is cool and you can actually hear the birds sing, one can hope for an end to corruption. One can hope that the people said to be collecting bribes from truck drivers in exchange for fake Covid-19 results will lose their jobs and rot in hell after that.
Ms Nampewo is a writer, editor and communications consultant