WAR ON CORONAVIRUS

From victimhood to heroism: Opportunity for Old Town and Mombasa

To win the war, we must protect the elderly and sickly among us

In Summary

• Since time immemorial, Coastal communities have complained about being discriminated against and marginalised 

• So persistent and regular has the card of victimhood been played that even on an issue that is so open and clear before our very eyes, we chose to believe in hearsays and naysayers.

Police officers patrol Mombasa Old Town on October 6, 2016.
Police officers patrol Mombasa Old Town on October 6, 2016.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

Old Town and Mombasa have been designated as ground zero in Kenya’s fight against Covid-19.

The number of deaths and infections are rising every day in the Coastal city. Nowhere in the country is the situation more wanting. Only Eastleigh in Nairobi is comparable to Old Town and Mombasa. With over 335 diagnosed with Covid-19 in Mombasa alone, the city has the highest infection concentration ratio. The continued curfew and cessation of movement has done little to slow down the infection rates. If anything, it has only made the locals more desperate and in need of aid and support.

Following measures announced by the government to reduce the spread of the virus, there were immediate rebuffs and scoffs from the locals. They challenged the numbers and facts by medical experts and immediately backed a narrative of being targeted by the authorities.

The card of victimhood was played again and many, including professionals, bought into it wholesomely. Unfortunately, this card has been played too many a time in the coastal counties of Kenya. And each time, politicians and persons with vested interests have successfully used it to derail the populace from the real problem.

Since time immemorial, Coastal communities have complained about being discriminated against and marginalised from the mainstream Kenyan agenda. Whether in political, social or economic affairs, the region has perpetually decried being sidelined.

While there are genuine cases of historical injustices, the truth of the matter is that as a people, the destiny of coastal communities has always been in their own hands. As we complain about marginalisation, we must remember that throughout, we have had leaders like in all other regions. However, ours never fought hard enough for the interests of their people. Instead, they allowed themselves to be used to plunder local resources.

So persistent and regular has the card of victimhood been played that even on an issue that is so open and clear before our very eyes, we chose to believe in hearsays and naysayers. It is flabbergasting to hear well-respected professionals and leaders from Old Town and Mombasa saying that coronavirus disease does not exist. That the figures of the infected and deceased are made up by medical experts to humiliate the local population and make them suffer for nothing.

This is the sad reality of our time. Those expected to give guidance and deliver the flock to the promised land, instead chose to misdirect their people back to the clutches of Pharaoh.

What is a clear fact is that Covid-19 is in Old Town and Mombasa with vengeance. If we continue to deny this, we will suffer much more than mere victimhood fallacies. The two areas must wake up to the reality that they are now on the frontline of the war against coronavirus in Kenya.

In this war, we must choose not to be victims but become heroes and sheroes. The ammunition to fight the war is simple – adhere to safety regulations and stay home, observe social distancing, wear facemasks and wash hands thoroughly every day. Above all, get tested as this is the only way to confirm your status and protect your loved ones and/or yourself from infection.

With Eid ul-Fitr fast approaching, we must not forget that Old Town and Mombasa are at war. Let there be no overindulgence in celebrations to the extent of forgetting that Covid-19 is with us.

To win the war, we must protect the elderly and sickly among us by shielding them from possible infections. We must also protect all others from contamination thus reduce the costs that would be incurred by treatment and quarantine. As locals, Old Town and Mombasa residents must commit to turn the tide of infections and become Covid-19 free. This is the path of heroism away from mere victimhood. It is possible and must be done by the people themselves.

The time for Old Town and Mombasa to stand up to be counted is now. We must lead the war against coronavirus in Kenya and make sure it is won.