By Dr Cecil Blake
Lots of leaders in various parts of the world have characterised COVID-19 as a “war” waged against the world. Given the incredible numbers of people infected globally and the dreadful death toll, this so-called “invisible enemy” is wreaking havoc at all levels of society in the world.
But is COVID-19 really “invisible” or does it manifest its “visibility” in the form of its devastating consequences? I see it as “visible” in the form of its devastating consequences. This is where the conflict metaphor becomes germane. COVID-19 has dealt a massive damage on our way of life across the globe. It has demonstrated how quickly an enemy could unleash uncanny power and subsequent damage regardless of how regions have been ranked: the so-called ranking of “1st World” downwards. It is a “conflict” the likes of which the world has not known since the second “World War”.
Who would have thought up to three months ago that Europe and the United States would have such an overwhelming number of fatalities in the world given their so-called “1st World” ranking, directly resulting from COVID-19? “Why”, they would ask themselves, “were we not adequately prepared for this conflict”? Furthermore, they would ask themselves, “Why were we so obsessed with pontificating about our ideology and self-praise, as well as our openly stated superiority?” And again, “Why did we not anticipate the lethal power of this enemy that can be considered as wickedly armed with a near weapon of mass destruction”?
On the basis of those types of questions above hypothetically asked by Western powers, and the reality on the ground, there is no other way to characterise COVID-19 but as a “conflict”, albeit a taming conflict. I am certain that in their quiet moments, leaders of the most affected regions of the world have not thought about this reality as a “Theatre of the Absurd”.
The “absurd” is also blatantly evident in Africa as a result of this “conflict”. After decades of “independence”, doomsday predictions are running wild regarding the strength of this enemy and its lethal consequences in the continent. Armaments in the forms of testing and contact tracing inter alia, are not up to par. How Africa accounts for, and explains her overall condition of “absurdity” after decades of “independence” is yet to be seen and accepted.
My hope, of course, is that the doomsday predictions and scenarios (recall Belinda Gates’ gory image of African streets littered with corpses) will not happen. My hope is not based on divine intervention. It is based on the probability that science may come up with announcements that the enemy is approaching its latent stage as it unleashes its weapons in Africa, but with less casualties, until its next round. Fat hope perhaps. Would Africa build up its front line defences in the meantime including a frontal attack on lawlessness and indiscipline starting from the top? Probably.
The conflict continues. Absurdities resulting from this conflict will continue to manifest themselves for a while regardless of the region of the world. Collective engagement has never been more imperative, even when there is a sore abdication of leadership at this crucial time of the conflict.
The expression, “This too shall pass”, remains in the metaphysical realm. The best chance for its realisation is a willed and determined stance to engage and at least MANAGE THIS CONFLICT.