Earlier this week, as I sat at my table, engaged in a staring match with my computer’s screen, not knowing who would blink first, I wondered aloud what I would write for my blog this week. Nothing on my Evernote list of possible topics seemed apposite for both the moment and my mood. And trust, me, that list has grown quite long lately.
Over the last few weeks, there have been numerous reports of the sufferings of Africans in China. It is not my place to recount them in detail, but I can relate the rudiments. As it goes, folks of African origin living in some Chinese cities have been turned out of their residences by landlords and denied entry to malls and other social amenities by security officials.
The other day, as I was trawling through my Twitter timeline, one tweet particularly grabbed my attention, which is saying a lot, since Twitter as a whole is an attention hog. In any case, this tweep was begging folks who send misinformation to oldies on WhatsApp to stop. She felt she had been turned into a fact-checker, and was exhausted by the attendant duties.
On the evening of Friday, March 27th 2020, Yassin Hussein Moyo was on the balcony of his parents’ house with other children, some of them neighbours. They were curiously following the goings-on on the street below. Police officers were clearing vendors and other members of the public, enforcing the new curfew instituted to slow the spread of Covid-19.
I had a lot of trouble writing this article. First, I put it off for days. Normally, I write the first word of a new piece, and a few more if the muses have had their breakfast, at the start of each week. Over the following days, I build it up, slowly sculpting it into something worth putting out here. By the end of the week, only a few final touches are needed before I let it loose.
The other day, while following the Pope’s Mass online with a couple of friends, I heard kids playing outside the door. As usual when kids play, they had these meaningless conversations on a randomly-changing roster of topics, none of which was exhausted before the next one took its place. At one point, they started chanting “coronavirus, coronavirus,” interspersed with some words I cannot remember.
Last Monday (16th March 2020), a fellow sporting the name Elijah Muthui Kitonyo was arrested by Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) agents, on charges of “publishing false information that may cause panic, contrary to Section 23 of the Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes Act of 2018.” If found guilty, Mr Muthui faces a fine of up to KES 5 million, or a jail term not exceeding ten years, or both.
In November last year, I radically changed a significant part of my life. I stopped having lunch as a daily routine. No, I am not watching my weight. I have no need to watch my weight, because there is nothing to watch. I have never been overweight, and I do not think that is a problem I will have to deal with any time soon.
Last Saturday, in furtherance of my very public intention to write a blog article every week, and out of a particular feeling of cantankerousness, I posted a piece satirising the Kenyan government’s response to the threat of the novel coronavirus. As usual, I then shared a link to the piece with many friends through a WhatsApp broadcast message.
Let me declare at the outset, by way of preface, that I am not a public health expert. I mean, I could be, but I have chosen a much more boring path for my life. So I am speaking here as an ordinary citizen, who lays no claim to a monopoly of the truth on this issue. In fact, I will do my best to avoid detail in this treatment, because I don’t want to make a fool of myself.