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Coronavirus restrictions have a knee on the neck of the sport

Last updated 28 days ago | By Vincent Wang'ombe

Golfer Jane Koech follows her shot during The Standard County Golf Classic at the Eldoret Golf Club in Eldoret yesterday. 23.09.2016. PHOTOS BY PETER OCHIENG/STANDARD.

The image of former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressing his knee on the neck of George Floyd and nonchalantly killing him has so enraged the world.

Floyd’s final words “I can’t breathe…” are so poignant that they have moved many people across the USA and indeed the world, and led to spontaneous demonstrations.

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It is not my intention to make light of the life of George Floyd or the actions of Derek Chauvin but I am currently pondering the effects of COVID-19 restrictions and wondering about the parallels to the effect they shall have on the Kenyan economy.

The devastation caused by the disease in Italy and many other countries, some of which have had to resort to mass burials to cope with the death rate, are well known. I am however wondering if the restrictions in our country are not disproportionately stifling on the lives of Kenyans.

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Hats off to the Ministry of Health for their fast action in instituting measures that have slowed the spread of the dreaded disease. It is their duty to ensure the lives of Kenyans are protected and that such diseases are nipped in the bud.

On the other hand, if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. It may be time to look at the devastation being brought on by the current restrictions and ask if they are probably not more harmful than the disease itself.

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The loss of income, as a result of the restrictions, in the golfing industry have been massive. I have been receiving messages from caddies from various clubs requesting for some financial help. As a result of the closure of some golf clubs, there are many more people sent home and are without a source of income. They are now reduced to begging to put food on the table for their families.

The situation is no longer sustainable and should the restrictions continue, it will be like the knee on the neck of the golfing industry and indeed many other sectors of the economy that will be the death of us.

The silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic has been that earth has been breathing, even as we hold our breath. The reduction of pollution resulted in more sightings of Mt Kenya and Mt Kilimanjaro from Nairobi.

This week I visited a friend at her home which has a beautiful view of the Ngong Hills. There is no better place in the Nairobi Metropolitan to sip a hot cup of coffee than from her veranda, with the many species of birds coming close to pay their respect as they feed on the seeds and the water she has placed for this purpose.

My friend recently planted a few species of indigenous trees and bushes in her garden. As a result, there are many more butterflies and bees coming to her garden and this has attracted more birds as well. The cinnamon-chested bee-eaters that are now a constant visitor to her garden as a result of these new development were a sight for sore eyes.

There is a lesson here for golf clubs across the country. If we can make an effort to plant more indigenous bushes and trees, we will be doing our golf courses a huge service.

The courses may look beautiful with all the exotic trees and lush grass, but if we don’t have birds, insects and other animals, then we are not helping the ecosystem.

The exotic trees may be good for timber but they are not good for the animal life which may take forever to develop a taste for them.

The most important lesson to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic is that even mother Earth needs to breathe. 

-Wang’ombe is the General Manager of Kenya Open Golf Limited