JAMILA MOHAMED: The many ironies of COVID-19 pandemic

JAMILA MOHAMED: The many ironies of COVID-19 pandemic

Today I note the many ironies of the COVID-19 pandemic.

You see on international travel, the pandemic has been an equalizer of sorts; we are all in the same boat; hatuendi popote!

Jet set lifestyles were disrupted as everyone stayed in their home countries; the wealthy and the poor together equally searching for safety at home.

But it is former Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph who once referred to Kenyans as peculiar and I couldn’t agree more.

Kenyans are so peculiar that even in the face of a pandemic they have retained the social arrangement in which adherence to rules such as movement restrictions are actually dependent on your social class.

Or how else would you explain a gathering that nearly assumed carnival status outside Nairobi Metropolitan area and in the middle of all government movement restrictions.

What stood out for me at the recent gathering at the home of COTU Sec General Francis Atwoli is the dancing and the social distance defying close contact that must have refreshed memories of many Kenyans about life in this nation before COVID-19.

It looked to me that COVID-19 was some distant concern that had between little and nothing to do with the gathering.

I will also need to refresh my memory if I saw enough well worn face masks at the big party. In Michael Joseph’s peculiar Kenya, politics is clearly king.

The gathering in Ilbisil Kajiado was essentially for political purposes that are favorable to certain political trends in the country currently.

What this means is; here is a crowd of politicians the government would turn a blind eye to.

I am imagining how quickly the police moved the spikes and barriers on the road to facilitate quick movement into and out of the Ilbisil party.

When the government issued guidelines on restricted movement there was a list of essential service providers.

I did not see politicians or plotters of 2022 State House succession listed among the essential service providers.

Unless there was a list given to us the ordinary citizen and another given to the politicians, or did we miss the fine print? Leadership is about setting examples.

If the government is cracking hard on ordinary citizens who are flouting curfew rules, sneaking in and out of restricted areas, why then would it turn a blind eye on politicians who are flouting the same rules with reckless abandon?

This in a country where relatives have been struggling to bury their dead because of movement restrictions.

Where the bereaved are only allowed to have not more than 15 people attending a funeral.

Where a Kenyan man, Charles Mwenda who despite obtaining necessary documents was forced to sleep under a lorry with the body of his wife.

Police had refused to allow him and his relatives to continue with the journey to bury his late wife. where husbands have been separated from their wives and children from their parents because of movement restrictions.

How does the government explain to those who lost loved ones and had to bury them in compliance with the rules and yet 60 plus politicians converged in Ilbilis just for politics?

This in a country where medics and health care workers are teargassed at police road blocks.

This in a country where the less politically consequential have been told to stay at home, don’t travel to the countryside, keep safe and sanitize, wear masks and maintain social distancing. peculiar Kenya has a VIP COVID-19 package for the high and mighty.

And by the way did you hear CS Mutahi Kagwe give that stern warning to errant truck drivers?

I wonder if his ministry would have the courage to similarly lecture VIPs especially those with good political connections.

So if you are small and have no title or you are not helping anyone’s cause for 2022, please wear a mask, sanitize, keep the distance – yaani, pambana na hali yako, because you are clearly on your own in this COVID-19 animal farm.

That is my memo.


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