My boyhood friend called Lackson once got sick. He had a stomachache. When he visited a medical facility, the officer on duty asked him: “Lackson, m’pati pakuwawa (Please tell me where the pain is coming from, Lackson).”
“Pamimbapa ndi pawindopo (on my tummy and on that window),” responded Lackson, pointing to one of the windows in the room.
A very weird response indeed, but the unbaffled clinical officer had met similar juvenile tricks many times before, and he knew that what Lackson was trying to do was divert his attention to the window so that not the patient but the window should get the jab.
Many people, young and old, feel uncomfortable with injections. The pain can be as pricking as the needle. It certainly is not the nicest of experiences.
But the pain, which gets endured for a brief moment, prevents greater pain and discomfort. This is what infants fail to understand and; therefore, develop a phobia for medical people.
In the face of a pandemic like the current one, everybody needs to grow up and learn to endure some momentary discomforts to escape possible future discomforts of unimaginable proportions. It is better to struggle mildly trying to breathe behind a mask than to discard a mask and face an oxygen cylinder later.
People are failing to change their habits to accommodate the much-publicised Covid-19 prevention regulations. Even when everybody knows that getting outside one’s home without wearing a mask contravenes the newly gazetted rules, there are still many people wandering around without masks. Washing hands and watching one’s distance are still regarded as unbearable inconveniences.
Yes, it is natural to have nothing covering the mouth as it is to socialise by physical contact. It is unnatural to endlessly wash hands with soap. Nothing can be more unnatural than to avoid gatherings convened for social, religious or political purposes.
Many among us find it unnatural not to engage in social imbibing and will curse anybody who tells them that bottle store patronage hours have been trimmed. I once visited one of the episcoparian churches in Blantryre and was shocked to see a congregant who was already high on alcohol at nine in the morning. He kept acting like a clown during the service. Such people will find it hard to abide by the new Covid-19 rules regarding sale of alcohol.
Minibus operators will find it extremely hard to abide by rule of letting only two passengers occupy a seat. It does not make economic sense, they have been arguing, to drive around with only 60 percent of the bus’ capacity on board.
These are hard times. Agreed, it is not easy to adjust. The social and economic costs that accompany any attempt to abide by the rules that do not make sense are high—money will be lost, friends will vanish and discomfort will be the order of the day.
But all these are necessary evils. If everybody plays ball, these evils will soon vanish. A chain is as strong as its weakest point. Our resolve to fight the pandemic is only as strong as the people that do not play ball. Victory in the fight will be compromised by those who wilfully or ignorantly disregard the regulations, yes, those who act as they would during peaceful times. We are at war and cannot live like those at peace.
In the past, vaccinations have been success stories. We do not have smallpox or polio today because of vaccinations. Measles, too, is on the verge of getting eradicated, thanks to vaccines that target it. Yellow fever is a disease most of us have heard about but have never suffered or known anybody who suffered from it. This is so because the world rallied being the vaccination programmes that were rolled out to eradicate it.
We cannot say the same thing about Covid-19. Although scientists have worked around the clock to develop Covid-19 vaccinations, many conspiracy theories have been cooked up against them by Africans, to the extent that even if the vaccines arrived here today, many people would avoid them. Somehow people choose to believe scaremongers rather than scientists.
Scientists have a bad name in Africa, being regarded as people who oppose religion and traditional beliefs. I have argued in some articles before that there are a number of very devout Christians who are practising scientists.
That being the case, the three Ws seem to be the only way to fight Covid-19 at the moment—wearing masks, washing hands and watching distances.
Every one of us needs to search within their habits and beliefs and root out those which are not compatible with the fight against Covid-19.