If the year 2020 was a person, I’d say he/she definitely woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and I think you’ll agree with me when I say that. If only we could add that nobody saw it coming. There’s an African proverb that says; spilt water cannot be scooped.
In deed, whoever tipped (or saw the tipping of) this particular bottle must wish that the words of this saying weren’t true. Sadly, the only scooping that’s taking place today is the scooping of sand by bulldozers, covering mass graves of our brothers and sisters in almost every corner of the globe.
In January this year, when I first heard mention of the Corona virus, I rushed over the story then away from it, dismissing it as one of those bouts of flu that come and go in no time. Very quickly, I whisked it aside. Almost 5,000 miles away however, the Chinese could hardly do the same with what they were confronting. Hundreds were being wheeled into medical facilities in an outbreak of infections yet to be comprehended by local authorities, sophisticated as their health systems were. That would be us in a few!
A GLOBAL VILLAGE
I’m quite sure, many of us have interacted with the statement, ‘the world has become a global village,’ in anything but a negative sense. It’s always a pretty-sounding statement to make, especially for high school debators (I personally had a liking for it) trying to prove a point in favour of the argument that technology has made the world a better place. Let’s briefly scrutinize the other side of the coin though.
See just how a simple sneeze in Wuhan, China has managed to take down (still counting) more than 5,000 lives in Africa; over 118,000 in the US; 40,000 plus in the united Kingdom and thousands more in other parts of the world. The global village phenomenon doesn’t sound as pretty now, does it?
THE TYPICAL VILLAGE
Let us for a moment picture the markings of a typical village (a simple one, like the ones we have in Africa): if one household is roasting goat for example, every other household begins to get the waft; if one person starts singing, the rest of the village is able to dance to the song; similarly, if one house unit catches fire, every other unit is in danger of its flames.
For sure, the interwoven nature of global politics at play today, the interdependence of economic bigwigs and the continuing merger of popular cultures across continents continue to bolster the reality of our village’s fragility; which is ironic really, given that unity is supposed to be strength. It’s like placing a bucket of water on the back of an elephant.
You think the elephant is strong enough to hold it, and the next thing you know, it’s tottering with every step the animal makes. Look at how the assassination of Iranian commander Qassim Suleimani by the US government earlier this year was already causing jitters of uncertainty on global security, albeit mild.
Due to the crippling effects of the novel Corona virus, the flower industry among plenty others is on wobbly feet. In Kenya, for instance, about 1,000 workers were, three months ago sent home in a downsizing move by various flower farms in the country because markets were being closed, thousands of miles away in Europe, among them countries like the Netherlands.
THE LORD AND THE PAUPER
Now of course every village has a Lord and a Pauper; ours is no exception and this has been made even more explicit over the last five months. The Lord’s mansion caught on fire first and in no time, the pauper’s grass thatched house did too. The problem however is that the Lord has all the big hoses and extinguisher tanks and so the pauper has to pray and wait before he can start putting out his own flames.
SPILLAGE OF AGES
Historians have affirmed that there have been other catastrophic ‘spillages’ before, worse even; the bubonic plague of between 1346 and 1353 (dubbed Black Death) claimed about 200 million lives. HIV/AIDS, the monster most of us are familiar with, rampaged the globe and had, at its peak in 2012, taken down about 36 million lives. Some will say that, the corona virus is yet to rival it’s predecessors; and I say, yes; at this point, that is true.
The world is connected today more than it’s ever been. Indeed, measures have been taken by responsible governments to limit movement of persons, by road, rail, air and water; but you know just as well as I, how much of a knock-on effect that is having on everything. By trying to curb the viral spillage, we’ve turned on the taps for an economic one while at the same time raising legal debates on how far governments can go in restricting people in as far as social welfare is concerned. It’s terrible.
I’m calling it a spillage, and this is why; a trail of the virus is tracing its way into every single corner of the village, following behind it, a raging flame; sweeping faster than the wildfires of Australia. The flames don’t give a hoot in hell where they lick. That’s the thing with fire; it is no respecter of class. It incinerates the pauper’s tatters and the lord’s silken robes alike, or as my health minister here in Kenya keeps saying, ‘I can gerit, you can gerit…anybody can gerit!’
A CURSE IN DISGUISE
We pray (earnestly) and hope for the sake of our own that the spillage is curbed quickly so that everything can go back to normal _whatever normal means to you_ but as we do this, it’s important to pray also; that by the time the flames subside, they shall have flamed up a huge awareness of the increasingly obvious fact that a global village may as well be a curse in disguise.
Article by J. K. Roume