BY KEN LIPENGA
“There are some people suggesting that we should stop announcing covid deaths because we are scaring people off..No! A pandemic has to be grounded in reality. Hiding our heads In the sand and pretending the problem isn’t there does not make it go away.”Thandie Wa Pulimuheya, internationally renowned epistemologist(Thandie`s remarks have inspired me to scribble these comments, the second and for the moment last ones on the Covid 19 pandemic.)We are afraid. We live in fear. There is terror in our hearts. And terror in the air. We do not trust anyone because we fear they might give “it” to us. We put on masks which kill our ability to smile at our neighbors.
Three quarters of our ability to smile is from the lower half of the face which is now stolen by Covid 19.The other day our closest friends hinted at a possible visit at the weekend. With our new-found Covid cleverness we managed to find some excuse to discourage them without mentioning our fear.And it is always about them giving “it” to us, rather than we infecting them. We are always the ok side.
The problem is always the other driver, as any traffic police will tell you about life on the road of life.We are afraid. We live in fear. The fear of death.Now, there’s nothing wrong with fearing death.The Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud confronted us with the idea that we fear death because our ego wants to be immortal.
There is a part of us that does believe that we should and will live forever.Immortality is a very attractive but i think problematic proposition which some of us entertain from time to time. I don’t know about you but I would certainly like to hang around for a while longer, if only because you’re such good company, as long as I am not too much of a bore, which would be most likely.Other thinkers, including pipe-smoking philosophers down at Chancellor College, the college that you-know-who loves the most, have suggested that we all project our futures based on our finite ends, whether we like it or not.
For it is certain that we shall die. This is morbid stuff, but if mankind has survived up to this time it is partly because our biological makeup includes the fear instinct. We have the escape inducer thoroughly wired inside us. When we encounter something that might destroy us, we automatically feel afraid. And when we feel afraid we run. Oh, yeah, maybe in the military they modify all that and when the fear adrenaline sets in they run forward and take on the enemy. That’s fine with me. After all, those supermen are trained to protect and defend us. But you and I, faced with terror, we bolt0. And that’s how mankind has survived and lived to tell the story. This, in my view, is the reason why we should not be ashamed of being afraid of the coronavirus.
That is why I agree with Thandie Wa Pulimuheya and Daniel Dube, two health professionals of Malawi origin working elsewhere whose dedication to doing good is so evident in everything they put on paper and do in practice in demonstration of their love of our country. There are of course undesirable aspects to the fear I refer to. Apart from not encouraging friends and family from visiting, we have also stopped visiting our hairdresser. Yes, even at my age, a guy’s gotta look good, no? But the wife said to me, she said, the barber? Do you know how many other people out there he literally rubs shoulders with who might have “it”?So I stopped going to the barber. Which was not easy because I just loved this guy who’d given me the pretence of a good look for years, and hear I was, throwing him under the bus.Now, when you stop going to the barber, in no time you begin to look like a sorcerer.
So in the family, after only a few days of not meeting my barber, there arose whispers and a serious concern about the head of the family, pun intended, going about town looking like a national disaster.Which was why my best friend, the one who always protects me, stepped up to the occasion by deciding to be the hairdresser for now. But then it wasn’t for free. She told me it would be K35000 for this job.Which for me was proof that she had been on fb for perhaps too long in recent days and came across the story of those now famous chickens sold to the palace at that price.. We are afraid. We live in fear, although our countenances will not always reflect this fearful fact.Friends, my view is that in the home, there must be a general understanding of the presence of this fear.
The children must somehow be made aware that all is not well. But then the fear must not overwhelm the home. Children are often smarter than us adults on these matters and can embrace the positive aspects of our current predicament with great ease. It is harmful to create an atmosphere in which the children absorb a sense of debilitating gloom that affects their ability to absorb the beauty of the world they find themselves in..
That is why when I passed through Chancellor College today and visited my beautiful granddaughter Okota, I pushed the agenda of a smile. But then for her the smile was already there. My Oko will be ok, I assure you.I tried to explain to Oko why I should not get too close to her. But then to resist a hug from this beauty would have been a crime of a different kind. All I managed to do was to explain why I had to keep the mask on.