Part III 

I have no intention of writing philosophic sparkling or waxing disquisitions; this virulent virus poses an immense menace. Nor, do I want to write psycho babblings about let us not panic or that none of us can escape death, so we might as well go cheerful as I recently read. 

In Uganda, President Yoweri  Museveni warns against people’s misbehaving during this Covid-19 period, “God has a lot of work. He has the whole world to look after. He cannot just be here in Uganda looking after idiots…”. Yoweri Museveni is a very didactic person; his remarks on the  Coronavirus fight are undoubtedly moral.

The enemy is here, and our fears are valid. Few of us in our lifetimes have ever confronted this frightening worldwide fulminating peril. I do not think any of us are prepared. The world is currently in a state of war. A war without guns and bullets. A war without human soldiers. A war without borders. A war without cease-fire agreements. A war without a war room. A war without sacred zones.

In a war situation, nobody asks anyone to stay indoors. We stay indoors by choice. If we have a basement, we hide there for as long as hostilities persist. During a war, we do not insist on our freedom. We willingly give it up in exchange for survival. During a war, we do not complain of hunger. Wee bear hunger and pray that we live to eat again.

During a war, we do not argue about opening our business. We close our shop (if we have the time) and run for our life. We pray to outlive the war so that we can return to our business (if it has not been looted or destroyed by mortar fire.

During a war, we are thankful to God for seeing another day in the land of the living. During a war, we do not worry about our children not going to school. We pray that the government does not forcefully enlist them as soldiers to be trained in the school premises now turned military depot.

The army in this war is without mercy. It is without any milk of human kindness. It is indiscriminate – it has no respect for children, women, or places of worship. This army is not interested in the spoils of war. It has no intention of regime change. 

It is not concerned about the rich mineral resources underneath the earth. It is not even interested in religious, ethnic, or ideological hegemony. Its ambition has nothing to do with racial superiority. It is an invisible, fleetfooted, and ruthlessly effective army. 

Wisdom is wonderfully gained but generally only retrospectively. Now we know what it might feel like to live in the African nations amid the Ebola epidemic or China. Did we ever really feel their fear? 

Probably not because we can only completely understand someone else’s feelings when we, too, are confronted with them.

Do not feel less than about that. That is human nature. What happens in other countries can raise our compassion and concern, but we will not feel the impact until it lands in our neck of the woods. 

Italy, one of the world’s beautiful neighbor countries, is ravaged by this virus and fighting mightily in already overwhelmed medical facilities. Several times, as I have walked about New York City, I wondered what it might have been like to have lived during the Black Plague.

Today, we are facing this perilous virus. For several years, we have been concerned about the possibility of a virulent global virus or superbug. Now it is a reality of living. 

Confirmed cases of the Covid-19 in the Gambia and neighboring  Senegal are exponentially rising, with concentrated cluster outbreaks in some remote outlying villages. Prevention is cheaper than cure, and a war that is foretold or pre-declared does not kill a smart cripple. 

Coronavirus did not start in Africa. It started in China. Moreover, like an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, it hit Europe and America. The Gambia was looking at it from our comfortable distance. 

We had the divine grace to lock our doors very early, to prevent the virus from being spread through Foreign Direct Invasion (FDI), just like a foreign direct investment, from entering our homestead. We refused to do so. 

Despite the calls by the ordinary citizens, followers, in this country that the political leadership should act. The political leadership, especially at the center of authority, failed to do so. Myths and unscientific optimism soon developed. The virus cannot survive in humid and high-temperature regions of the world, many fantasised.

The Gambia lost valuable time in at least attempting to shut out Coronavirus. Our political elite was still busy traveling to the worst affected countries to wine and dine and perform State functions collecting perdiems payments, importing home coronavirus. 

Now, the number of cases is steadily climbing up. As far as the healthcare delivery system in the Gambia is concerned, we are, in many respects, a cripple. When the coronavirus war broke out in China, we ought to have started moving with the evident threat that it would spread to our location. We did not flee. We were immobile, rooted to the spot of incompetence.

Coronavirus started in China. The world is now being told that China has conquered the virus. Therefore, it makes good sense to seek not only the help of Cuba but also the help of China at this time. 

If their doctors and healthcare givers are sourced and brought in, now that we are not overwhelmed, and we realize later that we do not need their assistance, because we have self tamed Coronavirus, we can thank the two countries for their solidarity and internationalism and send them back to their countries. 

However, the time to seek help from these two countries is now before the exponential increase in the number of cases of infections.

The pandemic is here. Crying and blaming political leadership will not solve the problem. All of us need to take personal responsibility in complying with the advisory of government and the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and recommendations and to prevent the spread of the virus. 

The government should consider providing “social security palliatives” to accompany any lockdown order that may be made. Already, big and small businesses are suffering. 

Earnings and wages are poor, and the vast majority of our people cannot economically survive for an extended period without working and earning a living.

Its only agenda is a harvest of death. It is only satiated after turning the world into one big death field. Its capacity to achieve its aim is not in doubt. Without a ground, amphibious and aerial machines, it has bases in almost every country of the world. Any war convention or protocol does not govern its movement. 

In short, it is a law unto itself. It is a Coronavirus. Also known as Covid-19 (because it announced its destructive presence and intention in the year of our Lord 2019). 

This is not a time to cry about bread and butter like spoilt children. After all, the Holy book tells us that man shall not live by bread alone. Let us obey and follow the instructions of the authorities. Let us flatten the Covid-19 curve. Let us exercise patience. Let us be our brothers’ keeper. In no time, we shall regain our freedom, enterprise, and socializing. We are in uncharted territory. Ebola was dangerous, but our government did not shut down. HIV/ AIDS  and Malaria are deadly, but we still get by. 

There are three arms of government: the legislature, the Executive, and the judiciary. At the Centre, the judiciary has shut down. One of the two nationwide. Furthermore, the Executive reportedly down at number 1 Marina Parade by implication, grounded. Moreover, this is no politics.

Thankfully, this army has a weakness, and it can be defeated. It only requires our collective action, discipline, and forbearance. Covid-19 cannot survive social and physical distancing. It only thrives when we confront it. It loves to be confronted. 

It capitulates in the face of collective social and physical distancing. It bows before good personal hygiene. It is helpless when we take our destiny in our own hands by keeping them sanitized as often as possible. This is the time of pestilence. 

However, it is also a time for prayers. The saints and the sinners. The righteous and the unrighteous. The COVID- 19 Positive and the COVID- 19 Negative. We have faith, and we can move mountains, and the prayers of the righteous availed much.

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

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