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.
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.
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.
Hi there. Happy New Year! You made it across, again. I am happy for you. I made it too. You should also be happy for me. This place feels musty. The cobwebs are hanging over everything. And the dust coats all the furniture. Before I start cleaning up, there is something I need to tell you. It has been a while since we posted anything here. I know. Let me explain.
You are squeezed into a small matatu seat, stuck in traffic along Waiyaki Way. The reason you are hemmed in, a woman the size of a rhino with a face painted like proper circus clown, has a little mirror suspended jauntily in front of her face.
So you are walking in town and you get to one of those zebra crossings which have faded because matatus are forever skidding across them. Even as you stop to do the routine look-right-look-left manoeuvre, you see two of the contraptions racing towards you from one side of the road, dancing around as if their suspensions are made of sisal twine.
You have seen them. At the corners of perimeter walls along the roads. Inside alleyways in town. Around clumps of bushes in the more leafy suburbs. Between electric posts with precariously dangling transformers. Heck, everywhere.
One of Nairobi’s more well-known — and arguably well-meaning — monikers is “the green city in the sun.” It alludes to the city’s national park and leafy west side. But more and more I tend to think it’s a misnomer. Nairobi is not a green city in the sun. It is a brown city under the sun. There is brown dust everywhere. Even the trees that are supposed to make it green are chocking under layers upon layers of brown dust.