Moja Tu

The New Normal

Reflections of a young Kenyan

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
Reinhold Neibuhr – American Theologian

The words of the Serenity Prayer strike a chord with me during these uncertain and depressing we are in. You want to make things happen, but you can’t. COVID-19 is firmly on the driver’s seat.

I am convinced that I am not alone in fighting these feelings of despair and it all began with a news item that a virus is wreaking havoc in Wuhan, China – the original epicentre of the virus. Then, it seemed like a far-fetched problem. Little did we know that the virus was moving stealthily across borders and it was thus a matter of time before its presence and repercussions would be felt all over the world. What followed is something we have only watched in movies and more so the Pandemic. If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend you do.

But I digress. We had to think on our feet if we were to survive. All of a sudden, Charles Darwin’s assertion, “Survival for the fittest,” made so much sense as those with strong immune systems had the best chances of fighting off the virus. Elsewhere in the world, the race against time to find a vaccine began in earnest with countries firing on all cylinders.

As frontline workers donned their combat gears in the name of personal protective equipment, we were advised to stay at home, wear masks when out in the public, wash or sanitize hands frequently and if you must go out, observe social distancing. Schools, hotels and places of worship were closed down in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.

Needless to say, fear engulfed us and the fact that the virus is unseen, added to the mystery. Medical practitioners did not fully understand this novel virus, what of us mere mortals?

The education sector bore the brunt of the pandemic as students stayed at home and helplessly watched as things unfolded. Some of our students, like Benjamin and Rachael, are continuing with their classes, which have moved online via platforms like Zoom. They are still hopeful of better days ahead without COVID-19.

Benjamin and Racheal say that the classes have been interesting and have put their self-discipline into test. They are also glad that their education has not been put on hold. They, however, have to contend with issues such as poor Internet, limited physical interactions with lecturers and the fear that online classes will not achieve the desired results.

Their concerns are valid. See, pre-Covid, online learning in Kenya was not widespread and very few institutions had the capacity to run the program. The pandemic has made institutions of higher learning to rethink and to reimagine how learning outcomes will be achieved. While private institutions seem to be getting a hang of it, many public institutions remain shut.

Like the rest of the world, we keep hoping that a vaccine or cure will be found and the sooner, the better. In the meantime, we continue observing the health guidelines provided by the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health. Remember to wear your mask when out in the public, wash or sanitize your hands frequently and observe social distancing.