It is becoming absolutely clear that if we are going to defeat coronavirus, we must be united as a people and work in concert at all levels. Looking at successes and failures of various nations in managing the spread and impact of Covid-19, two leadership factors stand out – decisiveness and teamwork. In every nation where appropriate decisions have been taken early, the results have been visible. Where there has been procrastination or dithering, the impact has been catastrophic.
It is absolutely unfortunate that leaders of several major nations did not initially take the coronavirus seriously. Of course, it is understandable because this virus was novel, and its impact initially unknown. But in some cases, there was just an unfortunate sense of misjudgement. In our nation, it initially appeared like our leaders were not taking the matter seriously, which led to a public uproar. But since the government decided to act, it has been admirable the speed and decisiveness demonstrated by President Kenyatta and the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe. They have not only kept the nation updated on status of the impact of the disease but have also been decisive in instituting measures to curb spread of the virus.
The decision to institute a gradual lockdown has been helpful in managing a population often anti anything government. Equally commendable economic measures taken, including personal pay cuts by the President and his Cabinet, and the extended help to workers and business community through tax reductions and breaks. In a small economy like ours, any small gesture is to be appreciated. The challenge, of course, is how to cushion those in the informal sector and settlements against the impact of the direct loss of daily income. Some pundits have offered possible solutions. We pray for wisdom on how to effect such measures in an economy where almost half the population needs help.
Considering the tough decisions the government has taken and continues to take, our remaining biggest challenge is unity of purpose. The successful containment of the Covid-19 virus lies in our ability to work in concert across all sectors of our society. It has been unfortunate to see some leaders blatantly breach measures set by the government. We in the religious community, especially the Church, have equally been slow in accepting that we cannot continue with business as usual.
Yet the truth is that, religious gatherings have been some of the major hotspots in Europe and parts of Asia. As a Pentecostal leader, I believe in the efficacy of our faith in protecting us against every form of plague or disease. Yet, even Jesus refused to fall for the devil’s temptation to have Him jump from the pinnacle of the temple. He considered it as putting God to the test.
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On unity, the Apostle Paul used the human body to demonstrate how the many parts function in perfect unity. God has wired us such that all the various parts of the body work together even in the simplest activity, especially in fighting antibodies. Take sneezing for example. It is said that sneezing occurs when a foreign particle passes through the nasal hairs and reaches the nasal mucosa. This triggers the production of histamines, which reach the nerve cells in the nose, which then send a signal to the brain to initiate the sneeze. The brain relates the initial signal and creates a large opening of the nasal cavity.
At this point your eyes and nose water, your head jerks forward and your eyes close as you sneeze. These reflexes get rid of any foreign object that might be in your nose. And, because they are all linked, it is almost impossible to sneeze without doing them all. In other words, when the nose is invaded, the whole body unites to deal with the invasion!
For a fact, this is the kind of concerted effort we need to fight the coronavirus – all of us must stop and deal with the foreign object in our national nostril. Interestingly, in the case of an actual sneeze, it is said that if you sneezed with your eyes opened, your eyeballs will pop out! Of course, it has never been proved, but it does underline the fact that even a critical member of the body like the eye can be dispensed with if it fails to cooperate in defending the body. That is why we must all shut our eyes to any personal inconveniences and sneeze this corona thing out of Kenya.
- The writer is the presiding bishop of Christ is the Answer Ministries (CITAM). [email protected]