All of a sudden daily Corona broadcast updates are not a hit

Saturday May 23 2020

Last weekend Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that the dusk-to-dawn curfew had been extended by a further 21 days. This was one of the many times that we have received communication from the government—for more than 60 days running, including weekends—whether from the ministry of Health or the cabinet secretary informing us of new Covid-19 cases, deaths and recoveries.

In the beginning, we would anxiously wait for the announcement to be made—would it be was it 3pm or 4pm? People would literally wait by their TVs or even radios to listen to government plans on combating the virus.

One of the things I remember keenly about living in the US was that in times of tornadoes, we would get warnings just before one was observed to be near our homes. The first time I ever heard a tornado warning siren was during the wee hours of the morning and it was raining heavily, it was such a heavy downpour with thunderstorms but even through that noise, I heard the siren wailing.

It was unnatural, combined with a constant voice from loud speakers that were stationed all over campus on poles that looked similar to street lights.

The longer I stayed in the US, I began to realise that the noises change depending on the severity of the storm.

My first year, any siren would scare me to the basement as it was where we were all advised to go, and each building had access to one. But the longer I stayed, I understood the sirens, and sometimes there was no tornado that struck. I did notice that, I grew less afraid.


Once I took a walk to the library, another time a group of friends and myself went shopping, because we were able to calculate that we had a few hours before a tornado actually hit our city, the sirens had become part of my life.

And that is the thing about fear or living under the unknown. Fear can start out with anxiety and caution. But when you are surrounded by danger, as human beings, we begin to think adaptation— that life must simply go on. How can I adapt to this new sense of normal, especially when it is not sustainable.

All of a sudden, the coronavirus press conferences are not as watched by people as they used to be—as you may not find sanitisers in some matatu's or at some buildings, and masks are now worn under one’s chin.

So it is not surprising reports indicate that youth are emerging as superspreaders of the virus because they are active and asymptomatic.

Nerima Wako-Ojiwa, executive director, Siasa Place @NerimaW