Never would I have imagined that in my lifetime I would live to see a worldwide pandemic shatter the lives of so many. From the wealthiest to the poorest of nations.
Life had come to a complete standstill all because of “Maame Coro” (as I prefer to call her) whose unwelcome visit completely changed the patterns of life on earth.
It was not safe to get a warm hug from the person you love the most; or even sit down and catch up with a family member in close proximity about school and life.
One has to wear an uncomfortable nose mask which can end up with a person developing a case of “maskne”.
It is sad to see the livelihoods of hard workers thwarted in a matter of months which they took decades to build.
It is sad to see people who can barely provide for their families laid off from their only means of income; and it is so sad to see our younger generations rot their brains away all day every day, because they have been stricken of their right to formal “physical” education.
It is also sad to see that religious groups cannot meet and strengthen their faith in this trying time and so most of them are backsliding into their old ways.
To be honest, I haven’t had a pleasant experience with Maame Coro either. I know, it may not be as heart breaking as the stories of families on the street, but I believe it’s important to share my story in order to show others that there is light at the end of the darkest tunnel.
Sit back, grab a cup of coffee because this is going to be a long one.
When Ghanaians first heard of Covid-19, we never thought that we would ever be affected by “rich country problems”.
Never did we stop to think that it would seep into the land of Ghana, our beloved country, let alone the entire world.
And then it came: from six infected persons, to eleven and then over five thousand people.
There had to be a lockdown; schools had to be closed down, borders as well and foodstuff in the markets were sold like wildfire. Life as we knew it changed completely.
My personal experience with Covid-19 has been interesting. First of all, I finally learned how to use a computer!
I know I know, in this day and age, one should even be shy to utter the words “I’m learning how to use a computer”, when it comes almost naturally to most people.
But I’m glad to say I now know how to use one. It is very interesting learning how to play music, send and receive information and even make video calls to actually see the faces of others, all on a small portable device.
I was astonished at the many wonders such a small piece of equipment could do so much, all in the comfort of my home.
Technology is indeed wonderful! I could finally help my mother do her e-banking efficiently without “chopping slaps”, because I would pretend to know what I was doing.
I also learned a lot about the history of not Ghana alone, but of the world as well.
For one, I learned about the Great Houdini, a renowned politician and magician of his era. I also learned about Chernobyl, one of the most uninhabitable places on earth, due to its high rate of radioactivity.
I also learned about how pre-colonial Ghanaians used to cure diseases and even tried some of these remedies myself.
My mother was the most afraid of the virus and did her very best to protect us against it. I remember the day she sat us down and made us Google all the local herbs and medicines she could think of, their uses, preparation and dosage.
It literally took us three hours to do all that! Don’t get me wrong, I love and appreciate my mother with everything I have, but she tends to go overboard when it comes to her children, who, might I add, are teenagers!
Anyway, back to the topic… I personally sat in a local sauna (which is just boiled neem tree leaves in piping-hot water, with a heavy blanket draped over your head to prevent the heat from escaping). I drank local concoctions containing cloves, “prekese”, ginger and other ingredients I cannot mention by name.
I watched the sad but rigorous protests of black people in the United States of America, who had been suppressed for so long finally stand up to be recognized as human beings, which will go down in history for decades to come.
It is sad to see so many people being discriminated against in this age of great enlightenment, just because of the colour of their skin.
I recall when the news broke that my favourite uncle had contracted the dreaded disease, Covid-19.
It came as a shock to us all primarily because he had been careful and had strictly adhered to all protocols. I thought how hard things would be for my cousins if anything serious happened to my uncle.
They were already struggling financially and had a lot on their plate. My aunt never had a stable job and so could not rake in so much money for the upkeep of the family.
We were already stressed out by the restrictions the President had imposed. It took a toll on us as well; we had to allocate some of our resources to them to sustain them, since my uncle was not in a good state to work.
Long story short, we were all in a bad place. We managed to work hand in hand and thankfully, my uncle recovered.
But the questions never go away: How do families who have loved ones suffering from this dreaded disease cope? How is one able to recover and get back on their feet after falling into that deep dark pit? How do you deal with societal stigma?
And now to the community: what a toll it took on us!
Let me tell you something: In my community, it is very difficult to even rally people together for communal labour.
There are also squatters who live in deplorable states. I always thought about how these people cope on a daily basis and so when the dreaded Covid-19 came, I thought they were done for.
Unexpectedly, that was not the case. It was so heart-warming to see hundreds of people come together to see to the needs of others in the community.
It was just beautiful seeing some of these squatters being taken in, and the able-bodied and well-to-do also provided food and supplies in batches (of course we strictly adhered to the protocols of hand washing, mask wearing and no physical contact). It was such a heart-warming scene.
Aside that, people also tried to engage in new activities to pass the time in lockdown.
A lot of people took up exercising since the neighbourhood has large stretches of land one could walk on.
Others either wanted to maintain their perfect figure, or drop some pounds before normal life resumed, to avoid being called “obolo” (fat).
To be honest, I never knew so many people lived in one small community. I guess people’s schedules ate into most of their family time…Family time, of course!
Pertaining to my family, we grew so much closer. I learned a lot more about my parents’ past (like the time my mother wanted to learn how to drive a car and nearly ended up in the Volta Lake with my father, which is a story for another day), I learned a whole lot about my great-grandmother after whom I was named, and I finally learned about my family tree (which has quite broad branches, by the way).
We also grew as a family in the community. Mr. Owusu and Mr. Mensah, who both live in the neighbourhood, never realized they were distant cousins!
How small our world has become. That was when we decided as a community to be engaged in the lives of one another in order to establish good inter-personal relationships with all.
For now, there’s a WhatsApp platform where all those who live in the community are members.
We have decided that when this storm is past, we’ll engage in more socially-binding activities to make us a more united front for any disaster, pandemic or storm life would throw our way.
And so folks, this is where I draw the curtain on this piece.
My singular message is this: there is always light at the end of the darkest tunnel.
It will take time for us to revert to our old lives, where most of us did not have a care in the world.
Until then, let us try to be there for one another and work hand in hand until the storm passes.