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Victims of Covid-19 in Kenya - The acrobats

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By XN Iraki | April 7th 2021
Kaloleni Acrobats members entertain revellers at Karmel Park Hotel in Kisii County (Photo by Sammy Omingo/Standard)

Young acrobats are often found on two roundabouts in Nairobi -- one on Mpaka and General Mathenge roads and the other on Brookside Drive and Lower Kabete roads.

They are sure motorists will slow down and possibly donate something. One of them usually carries a hat around hoping kind motorists will drop something inside. Their presence on the road is a sign of the fallout from Covid-19. These acrobats perform in hotels and other public places that are now closed.

Artistes, from thespians to acrobats, are on the short end of the stick because of Covid-19. Unfortunately, their income depends on crowds, the bigger the better. Covid-19 has dispersed them. 

Unfortunately, these acrobats do not have flexibility to change course after years of training. And working from home is not an option for them. Also, the nature of their work means they are unlikely to have saved for a rainy day. Few have regular salaries. Besides, patronising theatre and other shows beyond movies is not popular with most of us; we have other more pressing needs like food or rent.

Ideally, the acrobats should have recorded their performances and posted them online where they can be watched at a fee and be available to global audiences. Remember Netflix? 

Government help would be welcome. We are not sure if they got part of the stimulus package last year. 

Their presence on the streets should be a lesson to the younger generation: Get skills that are transferable across sectors and industries. Avoid over-specialisation. While Covid-19 may have been unexpected, other similar disasters may hit us in future. We should always be prepared. It is worse when you get into a profession many take for granted or is unappreciated. Would one write on his business card “Acrobat?” While these men and women train hard, we do not think it’s a serious job. We expect to be entertained for free. That is why pirating music and movies is common without sparing a thought for the men and women who hustled so hard to make these shows.

Next time you drive along those roads, consider these acrobats. That could make a difference to their lives. These young men have been sent to the streets by a pandemic they know almost nothing about.

 

Covid 19 Time Series

 

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