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06.05.2020 Feature Article

Keep Your Distance; I Smell Covid-19

Keep Your Distance; I Smell Covid-19
LISTEN MAY 6, 2020

The Akans say if you see your neighbour's beard on fire, you better fetch water and put it by your side so that in case your own catches fire you will use it to quench the fire. It is true because to be forewarned is to be forearmed

Ever since the novel COVID-19 reared its head in this our world, things have never been the same again. Scientists all over the world are working tirelessly to find a vaccine to cure the virus, but sadly they have not yet found one. The world is sitting on tenterhooks and we wake up every day to hear of thousands of people being killed by the novel coronavirus. The world seems not to be a happy place to live. Fears hang on the air as we go about our daily duties to find something to eat.

Because scientists have not yet found a vaccine, they have recommended certain measures to follow in order to contain the deadly virus. Following the advice given to the president by our medical professionals, he spoke to the nation in a nationwide broadcast. He admonished Ghanaians to wear face masks, wash hands regularly with soap under running water, use hand sanitizers to rub our hands, and above all, keep practising social distancing.

All across the country, many people are keeping to three of the recommendations except the social distancing. I am not a scientist, so I cannot tell how one can contract the virus when we refuse to adhere to the social distancing recommendation, but I cannot challenge the recommendation of scientists of the utmost fane who recommended that we should keep a social distance. When we talk of making mounds to plant yam, no scientist can challenge me because I was born and bred in that tradition as a son of a seasoned yam farmer.

How then do you expect me to challenge a scientist when it comes to COVID-19? What is disturbing is that, as you try to keep your distance in order not to touch people, those who have decided to disobey the presidential fiat keep coming closer to you. When they stretch their hands to greet you and you decide not to reciprocate, you are referred to as “anti-social'. In fact, some even refer to you as a proud person. Nobody can convince me that Ghanaians have not heard of the social distancing recommendation, but people are deliberately refusing to adhere to the instruction, either because they are ignorant all simply wicked.

The media in Ghana has done a yeoman's job by making sure the issue is drummed into the ears of all Ghanaians. Different languages have been used to send the message to the people out there ‒ and chiefs, church leaders, imams, traditional deity worshippers, intellectuals, etc, have done their part to make sure people observe all the instructions given by the president but it seems as far as social distancing is concerned, the messages have fallen on deaf ears. People secretly gather in their numbers to celebrate funerals of their dead family members and naming ceremonies are observed in our Zongos at the blind side of the police and their leaders.

If you visit our small towns and villages, drinking spots are crowded in the evenings and people gather to watch television. Nobody seems to care because if you advise them to adhere to the social distancing protocol, they tell you to mind your own business. What is worrisome is that if in our attempt to stop the spread of the virus fails, everybody will be affected. When I saw Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of UK, and Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, under self-quarantine because they tested positive of COVID-19, I was shocked. If such great leaders of the world could contract the disease, what would happen if somebody like me and people in my holy village contract COVID-19? It would be a disaster!

The last time I visited Kejetia in Kumasi, I could not believe my eyes! People were so careless about the social distancing protocol that you may think they do not care a hoot about their lives. Our market places were nothing good to write home about. In their attempt to make a living, market women do not care about the social distancing rules, they struggle to catch the attention of prospective buyers. Few market women use hand sanitizers and yet they touch prospective buyers to attract attention to their wares. This is very serious, and authorities should use harsh measure to curb the menace.

So far, Ghana has been able to keep at bay the spread of the virus, but the truth is that if we lose our guard, we will be overtaken by events. Since we are fighting an invisible enemy, the government should deploy military men to our major market places to make sure traders observe the social distancing rules. The military men need to arm themselves with AK-47 assault rifles, but not with canes. Deploy fifty military men, armed with canes to the Kejetia area and Agbogloshie, and see how people will adhere to the social distancing protocol. We must not allow a few irresponsible individuals to put sand into our gari.

Here in my late father's cottage where I have sojourned, there are only five of us living in different rooms. Sometimes we don't see one another until evening when we return from our various farms. We don't eat together because of the social distancing rules. Even when I go to the 'big town' to compose my article at the internet café, I make sure no Jupiter sits near me. Imagine an angel wearing a face mask sitting by a computer. You can't laugh because you will realise that this particular angel fears death.

Eric Bawah

Eric Bawah
Eric Bawah, © 2020

The author has 113 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: EricBawah

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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