Covid-19 was breaking news in faraway China and the general feeling was that it can never come to our beloved Naija (Nigeria), after all we are very ‘spiri-coco’ (a Religious Bunch) not with the myriad of religious centers that beseech our cities. A drive through our major cities attest to this with bill boards showcasing the wonders of the Almighty God.
But when news broke about the index case, of an Italian who arrived in Lagos down with the disease in February, we still carried on with our lives for a few weeks as though we had a unique bodily composition that made us superior to the deadly disease. On our religious service days-Fridays and Sundays we still hugged, kissed and shook hands as a show of love, touched things without washing our hands and then put the same hands in our mouths, eyes and noses. We also squeezed ourselves in public buses and in the markets. Though, we were all in a rush to ‘stock up supplies’ we took on these activities with our bodies touching, greetings with hugs, hand shaking and sweat mixing. As the cases of corona virus rose, unconsciously and consciously people coined several aliases for the disease; Coro-Virus, Cono-Virus, Corolla –Virus and the likes. Suddenly, we started purchasing hand sanitizers and face masks in large volumes and then without warning, the prices of these items not only sky rocketed but before you enter shops or public spaces there is either a gallon of water with soap, sanitizers and/or temperature readers.
There were also news of an increase in the cases of the diseases among The Wealthy, Middle Class, and Lower Class as if that was not enough – closure of Religious Centers followed. How can that be possible? No general prayers on Friday, No church services on Sunday? What would happen to people who come to these places for their weekly bread, what would happen to choir practices, group uniforms, prayer meetings, group meetings, holy communions, Sunday wears, and Sunday schools. Can it be possible that churches or mosques would close down? Yes, the churches and mosques have temporarily close down, then we have become introduced to concepts like-’LOCK –DOWN’, ‘SOCIAL DISTANCING‘, WFH-‘WORK FROM HOME‘ and PANDEMIC.
Now our Saturday ‘owambe’ parties are temporarily no more, our local Markets too have been closed down and just like that, our way of life has changed. We can no longer hug, shake hands and interact like we used too. Even in the banks and on ATM queues, we have to maintain ‘Social Distancing’. While also being forced to watch Children and Elderly at home due to closure of schools and homes for the Elderly. The elites can also not travel for their regular vacations, shopping and medical check-up. Corona-Virus has indeed levelled everyone –we all are stuck in our dear country. The effects of these new way of living are enormous. What happens to businesses and religious organizations that do not have online presence? What happens to people that are not technologically inclined and empowered financially? Well, in my perspective, Covid-19 has brought the need for us to start thinking outside the box and do things outside the norm, as when all of these is over, there will be a new breed of persons who will no longer fit it into the society as a result of being technologically inept.
The nudity of the corona virus on our lives means that we have to start making new changes, ‘changes on maintaining positive hygiene as well as our daily interactions with people not forgetting the need for us to continuously develop skills which would make us a force to be reckoned with now and in the years to come.