Covid-19 adds a list of miseries

Sunday March 22 2020


By Erick Mwakibete

As neighbouring countries started reporting cases of the pandemic that is Covid-19, there was an air of uneasiness in the country. A creeping feeling, that it was no longer a matter of if but when the country will report its first case of this pandemic. For some months now, that is all everyone is talking about. Every news channel around the world hardly features anything else that is not Covid-19 related or affected.

For months now we have seen how some of the things we take for granted in life like going to the beach or attending a sporting event on a weekend or having a drink with some friends at a local bar being completely disrupted. Even some of our most anticipated movies of the year have fallen victims to Covid-19.

Cancellation after cancellation of sporting events around the world meant that even our new found addiction of betting is on pause too.

Our tv screens day after day are plastered with news of global markets tanking around the world. Far advanced countries with better healthcare systems being brought to a halt and their systems overwhelmed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

These images of the routines of our lives being completely upended have led to speculations, misinformation and fear being spread around the world. Those of us, who live in countries where our health systems struggle even in the absence of major health crises, understandably are worried.

Some have found some silver linings of sort in the midst of all this.


Minus those hiking prices for the essential supplies to combat the spread of Covid-19, there are those who have pointed out that in the end, our countries will be better prepared to deal with health emergencies in the future as we set up systems to deal with the current emergency.

A cleaner society is also a plus; after all it is common that we constantly deal with cases of diarrhoea which are a result of a society that has almost given up on being tidy.

However, despite all the images, the reported increasing cases of infections around the world, all the news of deaths worldwide, not all of us are taking seriously this current pandemic.

Conspiracies and nonsense have been spread around with some claiming Africans are “immune” to the pandemic as well as claiming that Covid-19 is nothing but flu. And in an election year, some see a political plot engineered to work against them and their plans!

That countries around Africa have not been brought to their proverbial knees to this point is a wonder.

The future will help us better understand this and of course it all depends on how we fare until this pandemic is dealt with.

The nature of our economies does not afford the majority of us to work from home. And in many cases it is near impossible to follow the instructions on staying safe.

But in a continent all too familiar with emergencies human-made or nature taking its course, there are many things which make one pose for a moment and wonder, of what would be the outcome, if the current headlines and efforts used to deal with Covid-19 were used on other life altering matters, whether they are health-related or not.

Take the never ending wars in some countries on the continent and how they have compounded some problems like famine. Covid-19 mortality rate is nowhere near that of famine.

In a continent where famine has been compounded with these never-ending wars and nature dealing some countries a terrible hand like locusts, the headlines and the limelight are no longer there.

Mortality rate of armed conflicts in Africa surpasses by far some health emergencies.

The reasons why Covid-19 is receiving all the attention are complex but one of them has to do with stock market volatility. Markets require certainty which is definitely in short supply in the time of contagions.

As it is, famines mostly affect those who are already marginalized by many factors, and our never-ending wars are easily dismissed by powerful actors on the global stage but the current health emergency on a global scale with dire consequences on the economy is bent on not discriminating.

How egalitarian!