The running joke is that Covid-19 has made many of us adopt safety measures which include staying at home to minimise contact — which is an introvert’s dream.
Sadly, that isn’t true: introverts are not shy or antisocial, we certainly enjoy good company. The point is to have a choice about whether to say yes or no to attempts to wangle us out of our homes.
Quite apart from the social aspect of going out, there is work. Technology has come to the rescue as it always does, specifically mobile phones and the internet.
How we survived before them is a mystery to me. Yet even as one of the very lucky ones who can work largely from home thanks to technology, adjusting to having home be the office has been more challenging than expected.
How does one keep focused when there will invariably be distractions from the domestic front? Let’s not even talk about the snacking, the infernal endless snacking.
But it is terrible to have such petty complaints when we see reports in the news of factory workers locked out of their workplaces by owners who can clearly no longer afford running their operations.
This was bound to happen. For a couple of years now, the economy has been puckering up like a child faced with a second spoonful of quinine and at the grassroots level we feel it. Stretching that Tanzanian shilling across all the bills and necessities is becoming an art, again. Industrialists are no more immune to this new dispensation than we are.
In the developing countries, it has been said that this work situation may be the new normal. Try as I might, I cannot imagine how.
Tech is great but even manufacturing still needs people. Farming, extractive industries, the arts, science—everything needs people. Does this new normal mean we will go back to ‘simpler times’ when money wasn’t the be all and end all of everything?
I look around at my fellow East Africans and I wonder. Will our survival rest, as it always has, on our being able to make it through thick and through thin? Again? Dar es Salaam, indeed Tanzania, never shut down due to this disease.
We pay the price in official numbers that are contested daily, in conversations that tell us these numbers are hardly reflecting our realities. You see, we were never given a choice and we never will be: we have to work to live. And sometimes this means dying, to have a chance of living.
There will be no Universal Basic Income. Our levels or technology, our access to it, our economic organisation all point south. This is not a drill. This is not a drill. This is not a drill. So what can we bring to this survival game other than a sheer and stubborn unwillingness to disappear? Maybe, as Africans, that is what we do best. This is not a drill.
Elsie Eyakuze is a consultant and blogger for The Mikocheni Report: E-mail: [email protected]