Lockdown two: We are battered, bruised but wiser after second wave of mediocre leadership
Here we are again, back in the arms of that lover we swore we were done with. Locked down, again, but at least this time, we are in a zoned area and not a metropolitan one.
At least this time we have been joined by our brothers from the Rift, and the cool kids from Kiambu. I, for one, have no idea why they lumped Machakos in with us, but the more the merrier. At least this time, with the curfew being brought forward a few hours, we can start drinking even earlier so as to be home before covid starts its night shift. At least we can go back to manpreading in matatus, now that we are back to carrying under capacity.
Silver linings, in other words. Because if you look too hard at the negatives, you might start to hear the voice of Miguna Miguna laughing at you.
The last time they dropped a lockdown on us, it was sudden and unbelievable, like I imagine the return of Christ will be. It felt like a dream, like a narrative even a Nigerian scriptwriter wouldn’t touch. But it happened. The word cessation was unceremoniously added to our dictionaries, and we were suddenly forced to contemplate life in a post-apocalyptic world, except the post-apocalyptic world still had traffic.
The last time they told us to stay indoors and keep our germs to ourselves, we fell into a panic. We bought tissue in bulk, because if the world is going to end, you should at least be able to go into the light with empty bowels and a clean bottom.
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We bought alcohol in wholesale quantities; realistically because we were going to be stuck with people we had been pretending to like previously and needed liquid help to maintain the illusion— but also because we are Kenyan, and we drink, and that is just who we are, virus be damned.
We flitted, in the kind of numbers not seen since Tano Tena rallies, to social media. To Instagram, where we proved the theory that looking at beautiful people does cure depression. To Twitter, where we could insult anyone no matter which honorific they put before their name.
To Tik Tok, which for many of us was the moment we knew we were officially too old for these things. And, of course, to Tinder, which promised us that strangers might still, given the right circumstances, want to see us naked. And, in the end, we survived.
This new lockdown is in many ways the sequel no one asked for. The one no one needed but which was imposed on us nonetheless. Like the second Coming to America film. Like a classic Hollywood sequel, it is as unwanted as it is tone-deaf. There is none of the magic of the first one, or the novelty. There is only faint nostalgia, and it is gone by the end of the first act.
It is still painful to read about countries slowly opening up, when the only thing opening up in your own country is politicians’ shirts as they get vaccinated. It is frustrating to think that you have been abiding by covid protocols to the best of your ability, that you have cut down your social mobility to trips to the supermarket, that you haven’t hugged anyone since 2019… And yet, in spite of it all, you are doomed to wallow in the Danger Zone while foreigners move about your country unimpeded.
I am glad, if nothing else, that we have learned some lessons. The tissue aisles were empty the last time I was in the supermarket. The desperation that came with Lockdown One has been replaced with disdain and exasperation for Lockdown II; 2 Fast 2 Furious. More importantly, I have heard an increasing outcry from Kenyans which shows they know exactly where to direct their anger.
They know, even as we gear up for another round of cessation arithmetic, that the biggest lesson Covid has given us is the importance of good governance. It has also shown us that maybe the scientists are more important to society than the rotating door of waheshimiwa we pedestalize every election cycle.
Here we go again. Like falling back into that toxic ex’s arms all over again. This time, though, I hope we are ready for their bullshit.