Corona Journal - We Are All A Part

Corona Journal - Hudson GardnerCorona Journal - Hudson GardnerCorona Journal - Hudson Gardner

Dear Corona virus,

Welcome to Kenya. A few things you should know. Here we don’t die of flu, don’t be suprised if you fail to succeed. Usishangae [don’t be surprised], everything fails in Kenya.

We are not very excited to host you around, no offence but locusts arrived way earlier than you and first come first served, unless utoe kitu kidogo then you can skip the queue of our attention.

We also cannot afford to pay you too much attention because we really really broke. Incase you haven’t heard our economy…. is in the toilet. Shh…whisper please.

Don’t expect us to fight for sanitizers and tissue paper like the westerners, we shit and wipe with bush leaves. We are sufferers except for the few pretentious mido crass are taking your arrival as another opportunity for ostentatious shopping. Wako na pesa and you should see how they nonchalantly eye each’s others tray as if to see who wins with the most full shopping.

What’s that?…..No, no no no, am not calling anyone an idiot here.

We jua tu … we the poor know plain soap and water is as good as any antibacterial soap.

It’s unlikely that we will stop shaking hands on your account, a greeting is not complete in Afrika if I do not leave the smell of omena I had for lunch on the palms of your hand. How else will you know I’ve eated meat? But we promise to try.

It’s not like we want to ignore you dear corona, but how will we keep indoors yet we get paid per day? If we don’t go to mjengo, trust me there will be no ugali at the end of the day. We will not stay indoors kukufa njaa just because you’re here to rule the outdoors. It’s our outdoors, only politicians and police can keep us indoors after an election.

Bro, huku sio UK ama U.S. Our savings culture got lost before our ancestors died, they never managed to find it and we have no social welfare other than shillingi 2,000 per month if you are over 70. Yes, per month. We try.

I know you think you will collapse our economy, LOL! Shock on you, our government has been screwing our uchumi for several years now…. and we still here.

We ain’t even gonna worry about you killing us, cancer is now friends with Kenya just incase you have been hiding in a cave until now.

We also get killed by police stray bullets all the time, so dude - no biggie there. Do you even know the road accident statistics in Kenya? If you knew how we die daily of motorcycle and bus accidents, you wouldn’t even bother to stop here. Sawa baba? Umepoteza fare.

We are more likely to die of a cholera attack than to be killed by you bro. For us, everday is a run escape from death. We are the walking dead. Death is part of our lives, the shadow that lingers over us from the time the umbilical cord is cut and buried behind the house, to the time we fundraise for expensive arrangements to bury a no longer useful block of dead meat.

Death can be fall us anytime and we are not scared. If it comes, let it come. Why worry over what we can’t control? Everything dies, right? Even you corona will die!

We welcome all kinds of visitors to Kenya, hakuna matata, karibu sana. Enjoy our beaches, tourists are leaving to create room for you. Do make a visit to the Mara and by the time you leave our beautiful country all we ask is: please take most of our politicians with you, they love free rides, alot.

Samuel Mang’era

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting outside in the sun on the patio. I saw a yellowjacket land on some of the mullein that grows in patches. The yellowjacket was collecting fuzz off the leaves with her mandibles, working it into a ball, and flying away. Back at the nest, she must have been digesting it into pure cellulose and using it to build nest cells.

I went inside and checked my phone. On it was an email from my landlord. Anna lost her job, so we are trying to move out of our expensive apartment a month early. The message said “In order for you to move out a month early, you will need to advertise and show your apartment. Once you have found a replacement, we will need to approve them and have them sign a new lease.” No mention of job loss, global pandemic, or the Governer’s order to stay at home. About a month ago, this may not have bothered me. But as time goes on, and there are more reports of people of Anna & I’s age being hospitalized due to the virus, I realized that showing our apartment to strangers from Craigslist was not an option at this time.

By May the virus may have slowed its spread. But outside my little courtyard, on Agua Fria, I still hear just about the same amount of traffic every day. I hear that just a week ago there were tourists from nationwide all over the plaza, and most businesses were open.

I think the range of responses in Kenya are likely the same as they are worldwide. No one can predict how bad it will be. Some choose to make fun. Some choose to isolate themselves. Some choose to ignore it. I guess this is what I choose—

To be present for what I have

To not worry about what’s later

To take care of myself as much as I can

I think this isolation journal started off with the wrong title. Physically, we are all isolated. But in experience, I think we are together. We are all a part… of something larger.