The Covid-19 pandemic is turning me into a pious Bongolander

Sunday September 13 2020

Shirtless Simba fan-cum-artiste Diamond

Shirtless Simba fan-cum-artiste Diamond Platnumz and club leader Mohamed Dewji (3rd left) celebrate with thousands of Simba supporters at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam recently. The event was organised despite Covid-19 fears around the world. PHOTO | FILE 

By Danford Mpumilwa mpumilwa@gmail.com

I have to admit that I’m not a very pious, God fearing and staunch Christian. This is despite the fact that my maternal grandfather and several members of our clan - including three of my uncles - were members of the clergy in the Lutheran Church.

Indeed, I’m basically an average person who has the normal cocktail of beliefs watered down by a bit of scientific explanation to our being in this mysterious world and universe.

But, a few months ago, this smooth arrangement was shaken to its roots. Suddenly, the whole world and mankind’s existence was threatened to its core.

A deadly strain of a viral disease, ‘Covid-19,’ began decimating human beings all over the world. It began with hundreds of deaths in that vast country of China - and then spread and quickly engulfed the whole globe.

The number of those suffering from the disease - and subsequent deaths globally - quickly rose to millions and hundreds of thousands respectively.

We in Bongoland - and in many parts of the African continent - watched in apprehension, wondering if the apocalyptic consequences of the disease reached our land, where our healthcare systems are disastrous - where they are available.

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The pandemic did indeed reach the United Republic, and preventive measures were quickly put in place including quarantines, to curb its spread.

Other measures included social distancing, washing one’s hands with soap and running water, and donning face masks.

All manner of social gatherings and related activities were suspended, schools were closed, sporting and cultural activities cancelled, and unnecessary travel discouraged - among others.

I, for starters, bought six pairs of face masks (barakoa, distorted into ‘bora kuoa!’) for each member of my small family of a wife and three kids. I even took the unprecedented step of evacuating my whole family from the densely-populated Arusha City to the remote Tanilingwabati Village in Njombe Region!

Here, I even acquired a new hobby of appreciating Mother Nature by taking short walks in the verdant and evergreen bushes of the panoramic valleys and ridges of the Southern Highlands.

Knowing the future

The sounds of chirping birds and flowing rivers and rivulets calmed my nerves and the ever-present apprehension of not knowing what the future held.

Then something happened. The feared pandemic never really shook Bongoland as expected. Prayers were conducted; schools were re-opened; official and social gatherings including sporting activities were allowed - and life returned to it’s old self.

Notwithstanding these positive developments, the authorities urged Bongolanders to still be cautious of this malady which had deadly engulfed other parts of the continent and the world.

No wonder several of my friends in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are wondering as to what is happening in Bongoland.

They have recently seen in almost consecutive days sporting activities thriving here. There was the Simba Day, followed by the Yanga Day and the Azam Days which together assembled thousands of Bongolanders in stadia to celebrate the end of the last football league season, and the start of a new season.

These were soon followed by gatherings of hundreds of thousands of people in several urban centres in Bongoland who rallied around their political parties at the start of the nation general election campaigns slated for next October 28.

How was this possible in these Covid-19 pandemic times? They wondered. And the fact that there are no alarming deaths from the pandemic baffles them. They ask me - and I must admit I have no ready answer.

I’m, however, relieved that I am back to my normal self. The other Sunday, I even took the decision to attend the Sunday Church service.

The pastor who had not seen me in church for several months noticed my presence. He then asked me to greet the congregation. I thanked them for their prayers - and then thanked the Lord. It seems I’m slowly turning to God. Am I becoming pious? Time will tell!

The author is a veteran journalist and communication expert based in Arusha.