Ever since I learnt of the novel Coronavirus in January this very year, I wasn’t anticipating and expecting certain inconveniences like the present lockdown assuming that it would spread globally, I thought it was a Chinese issue that would be sorted in a few days but I was surprised that even when a very huge hospital was constructed in a few days to deal with the virus, figures showed it was not to stop spreading any time soon in China
What started as a Chinese issue has really surprised the world and mainly the developed countries because when the spread of COVID-19 in China was slowing down, for Italy it was worse and everything was a mess when it conquered the United States, United Kingdom and now the whole of Africa also started getting it from the people who had travelled. Many of the cases in Africa were brought in by business people who were in either Dubai or travelers who were in the States and the United Kingdom for reasons they know better.
Stories were everywhere about LOCK DOWN but this was something that we were not familiar with, a word that described what we never thought could happen in Africa mainly in the pearl of Africa but I am now witness to what a Lockdown is. Several countries and cities like Wuhan, Italy and the USA locked down and some of us thought that whites can do so because they are very organized and respect directives better than us Africans who understand directives but decide to disrespect them.
I have had an experience that will always be memorable to me in all my life not because it’s the best, but because it’s very surprising that I have seen things I never expected would happen . The Coronavirus lockdown has seen parks close their gates, cafes shut down, Bars silent, clubs closed, Arcades silent, roads with only a few cars with stickers, with only their riders, Handwahing containers everywhere including, markets, public transport, supermarkets and gyms. In this case slayers say that Corona virus is very special, it has indeed been special because it has made us do things we have never done like washing hands at all our destinations and sanitizing our hands regularly which I think is good and should be the usual norm even after this pandemic.
Life in the Uganda has changed like never before in a peacetime. People have been told to stay at home where possible and only leave just to go and buy basics at the markets or even just walk around their premises or to shop for necessities; as key workers continue to work in social care, construction, the media and a number of other industries that have to do production.
For the past two weeks, living under lockdown has become the unreal new normal life that many Ugandans have got used to. Daily life at home and in the house is like being locked up in a prison cell, just that this one is full of panic for the married, bothersome for those with debts, funny for those who cannot access their families because the lockdown found them on duty out of their homes etc.
Locked down alone at my place has become the worst experience; I experience deep loneliness, of a claustrophobic and urgent nature. The kind of incomprehensible panic that messaging and video calls and social media cannot touch, not knowing when I will next see my mum, or experience affectionate physical contact, or just jump in a taxi and go anywhere around the city. Life has become hard but our president says that it’s a matter of life and death so I must abide and forget that the clubs near my home existed, walking on foot used to be a punishment to myself but right now the easiest means of transport in the country is by use of foot, we are now the footsubish new brand transport means.
The unexpected consolation of distance is that I have never felt more connected, even to those I don’t know. That deceitful phrase that says that “we are all in this together” has finally come true because we are facing it equally, the white, black, the poor, the rich, the employed and the employed etc are all home until everything is ok and the virus is being contained.
Lockdown does not mean you get frustrated in all aspects of life. The one important aspect to remember is that you are not the only one facing the problem. You are asked to stay at home for your own safety and that of the community. So it was not just a lockdown and social distancing that were responsible for bringing down the number of deaths in China, but the country’s community surveillance approach. Since China has had such issues of dangerous viruses, it acted with speed to contain COVID-19 by putting in place several other strict measures, imposing total or partial lockdowns supported by a protective shield of community measures where by every time they found people with the virus, isolating them swiftly, and tracing those they contacted was always the immediate action.
The lockdown has taught me to evolve, upgrade and be resilient to change and overcome the challenges. Not everyone is lucky to see another day nor will we get a chance like this to be at home with people that we take long to meet like our landlords, neighbors and even our families. Life and its chapters will grow but playing around with it by not respecting the measures put in place by our government will lead us to massive death and Uganda will be like Italy and other states in the United states where very many people are dying.
The lockdown has been an extremely stressful and traumatic experience, but I always remind myself that it won’t last forever if we wash our hands regularly with soap, social distance ourselves, avoid shaking hands, avoid hugging and kissing, avoid crowds and most of all STAY SAFE AT HOME.