Lessons from the forty-two days of social distancing

By Joseph Nyongesa | Wednesday, May 20th 2020 at 08:48
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The first pronouncement of the corona epidemic turning endemic now, had almost zero weight to the world leave aside Kenyans.

Kenyans took to the internet with all sorts of jokes on the monster no one knew would end up turning life upside down in a quick progression. The phrase “nothing from China lasts; all are fake, including this corona” was all over twitter.

The reality of this monster was felt after the first partial lockdown in Nairobi and its environs and the seven past midday curfew. This meant that chances of accessing the city were near zero unless one offers essential services or a need for a specialised medical emergency.

Lessons were learned during this period, both economic and social.

The behavioural shift was critical; keeping indoors for the better part of the day became normal. It wasn’t easy to keep in the compound for a single hour in that tracing me was the hardest task one can be given.

Something to keep me indoors was found immediately; movies became a new darling. I sometimes managed to watch a full series-season having twenty episodes within forty-eight hours. As we speak, I have “featured” in more than twenty movies. It’s not a joke, I guess.

The concept of humanity found a room in my being. Many in my midst were rendered jobless both in the formal and informal sector of our economy, which clearly meant your saviour might be in the next doormats different instances friends whom we had ceased to talk long ago could call requesting for something to put in the mouth, the humanity bit of me could not allow my neck to turn the other side.

At some point, I had to forget my debtors if they exist.

Foes turned allies, bad blood had to get rid of, and the hatchet buried. There was this colleague but from a different department, whom I could not share a table with, but coincidentally we happen to live in the same apartment. The longest conversation we had ever had before corona came in was a good morning greeting.

Thanks to corona, he is now my immediate brother whom we share the coronavirus updates, politics, women, and anything that can keep time moving. It’s called united by a common problem.

Watching movies and generally being indoors turned boring, in that something new was necessary to beat this boredom. Body fitness involving jogging with a friend or two every morning and evening in addition to a homemade gym to boost our muscles was introduced. These really paid off, many hours were spent on the gym, which really reduced unnecessary movement.


Hygiene became paramount, short nails not like before, where friends used to compare me to those men working in a salon. Washing hands every now and then, wearing a clean facial mask every day whenever I get a privilege to put a foot out of the house may be to talk to a neighbour or to buy Sukuma wiki in the shopping centre This was a clear indication that one can learn a new trick no matter the age, as long as a little reinforcement and self-discipline are applied.

Economic wise accounting up to the last coin was paramount. In some instances, my expenditure for the day could be zero, which meant that day I had decided to take black tea with a homemade pancake.

Making calls was reduced by fifty percent, in that I learnt to communicate via WhatsApp or sometimes use normal short messages service.

On the extension of the curfew for the additional twenty-one days to June plus the closure of the Kenyan border with the neighbourliness, Tanzania and Somalia by President Uhuru Kenyatta is a perfect call to deal with the monster jogging in our streets every day.

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