Jan 20, 2020
Mr. President – It is time to open the rest of the economy

By Norman Mudibo

Covid-19 is a war to be fought decisively. Conclusively not. Liberation will take a while. It is a hydra headed monster whose lethal tentacles call for a calculated approach. Like soldiers we are in a battlefield with the individual and collective responsibility to watch each other’s back and protect from harm.

But just like in a battlefield we must carry on despite seemingly insurmountable difficulties and regardless of the imperfections. We, just like others, have had our fair share of these but we soldier on.

Your Excellency, I applaud your stewardship through a very rough and unprecedented period. I also recognize the renewed vigor and focus on the concerted efforts by the Major General to reclaim Nairobi’s long-lost glory. But that is a subject of another day.

Your Excellency, I know you care for this country and its people. You took the oath, anyway. When Covid-19 struck you moved swiftly to impose restrictions. This was absolutely and appropriately necessary.

Then there was little information about this virus. We were cooped up in our homes for months – anxious and uncertain of what had befallen humanity. We were supposedly timorous.

As time went by, we got titbits of information about the virus, and it slowly dawned on us what we were dealing with and what we could do to keep it at bay. But this was not just another passing cloud. A hydra-headed monster whose destructive tentacles strangled our most productive sectors of the economy.

What followed was unimaginable and unexpected. The virus put the fear of the serpent in everybody. Majority are still reeling from the aftermath. Dreams were shattered. Incomes shrunk. Jobs lost. Properties auctioned. Businesses closed. Some have sunk in the abyss of depression. Frustrations have turned lovers into murderers. It has taken a toll on families too – in different ways. Some chose to complement efforts to combat the pandemic. Whilst others insatiably capitalized on the pandemic and penury.

Your excellency, the containment measures have worked well so far. The past five months have been enlightening. It is abundantly clear that we cannot vanquish the virus anytime soon. We are accustomed to the new normal. It is apparent that we are not an individualistic society. We like to socialize. It fuels our sanity. There are those exceptional cases of recklessness. Deal with them. As we socialize, we ought to do it with caution and care for each other.

Your Excellency, the containment measures have helped a great deal. But we now need to revisit, relook, review, and readjust. Our understanding of this virus is way better than five months ago.

A mother had his teenage boy locked in the house for days because she could not afford to pay rent. A security guard contemplated suicide. The pattern of sorrow, pain, sorrow, and suicides is appalling.

Ease the restrictions. The virus has forever altered our society. It is here. It will linger long. We just must live with it while adjusting how we conduct ourselves and taking cognizance of the safety guidelines. We cannot continue confined in cocoons. Time to open the rest of the economy is nigh.

The writer is the Senior Account Director at Apex Porter Novelli and a former award winning Business Journalist at Nation Media Group (NTV)