Before COVID-19 came to light in Wuhan China, the world was relatively doing fine in many areas. Superpowers were overweening about their cutting-edge weapon discoveries. Others were amassing weaponry to flex muscles against the powerless. Two conflicts were prominent globally: in Syria and Yemen, where superpowers such as Russia and the US were using their proxies to fight each other’s leverage in the Middle East. As well, mini-superpowers such as Iran and Turkey were busy claiming the piece of the cake geopolitically.
Soon after COVID-19 struck, everything lost traction. All attention shifted to it. It broke out in one of the superpower countries: China, then alarmingly and quickly spreading to Europe, America and the rest of the world. It is crippling many economies after the world. COVID-19 is the most talked about thing globally. It has brought many economies to their knees and led to massive loss of life. Importantly, COVID-19 has offered many lessons to the world at large.The following are some lessons:
First, COVID-19 has proved that world priorities, when it comes to personal and national security and stability, are shockingly flawed and erroneous. Many countries spend much more money on national defense and security by inventing or purchasing many types of weapons and allocating much more of their budgetary money to their departments of Defense than to those of health and others critical areas with the assumption that they’re bolstering their national security. Ironically, the enemy that––even a naked eye cannot see––has put every security measures to hooey. At a personal level, when the lockdown came into effect in many places, there were different ways of responding. In my town, people bought much more toilet tissues and sanitizers than food. One would think that food was supposed to be priority number one then interconnection among the members of the society to see how they’re going to fight this pandemic together but not severally or just depending on what the authorities will order them to do. Another nugget is that those who used to be guests in their own homes are now hosts of those who used to host them namely the kids and wives. Time for going and spending much time in the pub is long gone.
Second, COVID-19 has exposed the myth that developed countries have strong and sound health services and health infrastructure. Sadly, these countries have an acute shortage of facial masks, ventilators, sanitizers, and even essential vaccines partly as a result of investing hugely in wrong priorities. In many poor African countries also, it is not uncommon to find anti-riot yobbos well supplied whereas hospitals and schools are not. Many countries do not have clean and safe water that is crucial in fighting COVID-19 pandemic. Ironically, the same have a lot of batons, boots, bullets, guns, teargas, bombs, rubber bullets, shields and all tools of war aimed at being used against their citizens.
Third, COVID-19 has proved that everybody is vulnerable and our livelihood and resilience as a people is rickety. Rich people have proved to be equally vulnerable as the poor are. Africa is used to seeing the rich people––who in many instants are either politicians or their associates––going abroad for advanced treatment after neglecting healthcare services in their countries. Thanks to the lockdown, our tycoons can now reconsider the local hospitals.
Fourth, COVID-19 has proved that our consumerism is likely to finish the world. After China ordered the lockdown, the satellites picked up some signs of improvement in air quality globally. This means, lockdown serves two purposes namely to curb the spread of the virus and reduce the burden on our environment as we stay home and not over-consume, which result to the improvement in our air quality.
Fifth, COVID-19 has proved that capitalism is not viable, particularly at this time the world is facing the growth in population. As humans, we need to reconsider our lifestyles, particularly rich countries which encourage their people to just consume without considering those they pauperised through slavery, colonialism and neocolonialism.
Sixth, COVID-19 has unearthed systemic racism in the world. Refer to how US president Donald Trump kept on referring to COVID-19 as a Chinese virus, whereas, in some European capitals, some people with Asian pedigree were openly discriminated against simply because COVID-19 started in Wuhan China. Ironically, when Chinese were discriminated against, they complained a lot. Interestingly, at home, some Chinese in Wuhan replicated the same by brutally and shamefully expelling Africans for fear of contracting COVID-19. Why? It is simply because they’re black and Africans. After seeing the footage of Kenyans expelled from their rented homes and sleeping on pavements, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that China had “precipitated unfair responses against foreigners, particularly of African origin, from some members of the local community in Guangzhou, especially landlords.”
Similarly, in the US, it came to light that African-Americans, Latinos and unregistered labourers were dying at high rates compared to their white counterparts. In the UK, 50% of fatalities are non-whites! Some people in the West have already started to sound a death knell that Africa will be hugely affected because it does not have sound health services. Two French doctors openly propose that anti-COVID-19 vaccine tests should be conducted in Africa despite having minimal numbers of victims compared to everybody else.
Seventh, COVID-19 has, as well, exposed African leaders’ lack of understanding of their people and the real situation. Some ordered the lockdown without first addressing the issue of sustenance for those who live from hand to mouth and homelessness to some. Because of this, police have already killed or injured some innocent people simply because they can’t adhere to the lockdown order.
Ironically, whereas humans are now panicking, animals are enjoying a sigh of relief, mainly those that are butchered and eaten in Asia not to mention those that couldn’t cross the roads before the lockdown, thanks to many automobiles on the roads.
By Nkwazi Mhango
Mhango is a lifetime member of the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador (WANL) and author of over 20 books among which are Africa Reunite or Perish, 'Is It Global War on Terrorism' or Global War over Terra Africana? He has contributed chapters in scholarly works on issues of importance on Africa with the specialization in the deconstruction and decolonization theories.