Not on our own, but called upon to be responsible

Friday, July 10th, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta giving a State of the Nation address Photo/PD/FILE

Hesbon Hansen Owilla 

We are a very interesting lot, Kenyans that is. The last few weeks have seen us complain and call for the opening up of the country and then the President makes the announcement, lifting the cessation of movement and we go hollering about - we are on our own – and it is like many of us want to believe this.

I have listened and interacted with experts from policy makers and epidemiologists and one thing that they made clear is that the government and specifically the president was in this difficult situation where he had to choose between the economy and public health safety. 

Now, let us situate the economy first. By restricting movements and essentially doing what many have termed a close-down of the economy, what the government was doing was taking responsibility for all of us at the expense of the economy.

Of course in the hope that the pandemic would come and go after some time, but that seems to be a mirage in the near future.

Well, all governments have this noble responsibility of protecting the citizens and you wouldn’t have expected otherwise. 

However, with the government taking the deserved bullet and reigning protocols on us, the expectation was that we would do our part and take responsibility which would consequently hasten the flattening of the curve and probably have the measures relaxed and the attendant return to 100 percent economic activity and building of the nation.

As fate would have it, the government rolled out mass testing and we are hitting high Covid-19 positive figures every day. 

This is far from the ideal and it goes without saying that as the government was taking measures that were technically hurting our economy, some of us had abdicated our personal responsibility and the model proved ineffective. Something had to give. 

You see, when you give everyone but no one in particular the responsibility, no one actually assumes the responsibility.

Not lifting of the cessation of movement was going to lead us to a prolonged bleeding of the economy yet there seem to have been no public health safety gain because it appears we had dropped our guards. 

Granted, the consequence of a prolonged lockdown was going to be a harbinger of a longer road to economic recovery. 

Critically here, is the stark realization that at individual level we may not have much of the bulk of the responsibility of reconstructing an economy in recession, but we certainly have a more direct and consequential responsibility of taking care of our public health safety. 

Therefore, even though we are not on our own, the fear factor that comes with imagining that we are on own should easily make us reimagine our role in the fight against Covid-19 going forward.

As most of us rush to take the next bus or matatu to our rural homes to escape the biting hardships in Nairobi and other urban centres, we need to take with us extreme responsibility to protect ourselves and our loved ones. 

It is my prayer that the aura of ‘we are on our own’ will instill a greater sense of responsibility and that it will be our resolve to wake up and do the most about our personal safety as we take advantage of the cessation of movement to build our economy. 

Wear the mask, keep social distance, wash your hands and sanitise and most importantly protect yourself for your loved ones and encourage people around you to be a lot more responsible. The war is not won, but the journey to win begins with you and I. — The writer is a PhD candidate— [email protected] 

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