This virus was probably meant to teach us, says the writer. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency/ANA
This virus was probably meant to teach us, says the writer. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency/ANA

Here are some positive take-outs from the crisis we are in

By Victor Kgomoeswana Time of article published May 10, 2020

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It is clear we are going to have to find ways to phase out the lockdown before a cure for Covid-19 or a vaccine is found.

Just as we found a way to live with crime, while taking precautions, Covid-19 is not going to let us go back to living our lives as nonchalantly as we used to. There are too many of us for all the food parcels and donor-funding to carry us forever.

This virus was probably meant to teach us. As tragic as the deaths are, we are going to have to internalise the lessons and get going - we cannot hide forever. Instead, we are going to manage it vigilantly in all we do.

The lockdown helped us appreciate what we take for granted. For instance, not all of our commute is a must; we can live without most of the alcohol we consume; training at home is possible; most of the people we call VIPs do not render any essential service - in fact, we can live without them; and hygiene is fatally underrated.

How many people do you know who have flu this month, which is part of the so-called flu season? In my circles, not one soul. Why? Because reduced movement and the sanitisers at the entrance of every supermarket, inside every taxi and public toilet are working. Hygiene, or health education, was once an examinable school subject. We must reintroduce some of its concepts in our school curriculum.

About five years ago, a report by Initial Washroom Hygiene stated that 62% of men, and 40% of women, left a toilet without washing their hands. That was a disaster of pandemic proportions. It should have made global headlines. Listeriosis was another missed opportunity to reprioritise basic hygiene. The arrival of the coronavirus brought some urgency into ditching these bad habits. Long may our newly acquired habits - washing hands, minimising movement, drinking or smoking less, spending time with family - continue!

Africa is learning to cope. South Africa has been in lockdown for more than 40 days. Botswana is talking about reopening after its five-week lockdown. Nigeria is focusing on restricting interstate movement, a more practical approach.

Madagascar is exporting its artemisinin-based cocktail to countries like Tanzania, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea; possibly Mozambique and Senegal. Even the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the AU are talking to President Andry Rajoelina about his herbal tonic, Covid-Organics. Who knows what to make of Minister Zweli Mkize’s tweet on Tuesday about receiving “a call from the government of Madagascar, who asked for help with scientific research”? For compelling evidence, he might as well talk to all South Africans who have used lengana, umhlonyane or wilde als.

It is impressive that companies like HP and the AU Commission agreed to expand digital learning opportunities. This will not help immediately, but will take us closer to inclusive digitisation of Africa. Some airlines will probably perish or radically shore up their efficiency game, which is great. We will probably value domestic tourism more when the lockdown ends.

All these are positive take-outs from the crisis we are in.

* Victor Kgomoeswana is author of Africa is Open for Business, media commentator and public speaker on African business affairs.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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