By Gideon Chukwuemeka Ogbonna
On New Year’s Eve 2016, a friend sent an image to me on Whatsapp which bore a quote that I will like to paraphrase: each New Year is a chance to write something new in our life, a tabula rasa. 2018 presented us with something too, not a blank slate per se, but a test. One which we’ve failed before. It tosses this disease to us —what I’ll call a tabula lassa— to see what we will make of it this time, to see if we will rewrite history.
One evening last week, Mom returned home, sunk her fatigued self on the sofa, and told me two doctors had died in the teaching hospital in Abakaliki. “Lassa fever,” she said. The words possessed a strangeness as they filtered into my ears. I thought that they have been written and wrapped in history. But when my friend called me an hour later, telling me how he’d had indirect contact with a doctor somewhere in Anambra, I knew history had escaped the prison of the past. Days later, schools were closed in Abakaliki, a house officer was dead in Kogi, 5 people dead in Ondo.
Once again, in Nigeria, we see the government treat us to a cup of negligence and tired, overused political statements like “…we are also intensifying effort to create awareness to sensitize the public to how to live a hygienic life.” It always boils down to the public fending and protecting themselves. So we have resorted to anger and sighs and hashtags. And I hope these actions of ours spur the government. If not, we may see ourselves get weakened by fear, and commit our lives to the hands of God. Because if these —as Obasanjo puts it— “lice of general and specific poor performance…” continues by this government, “…our fingers will not be dry of ‘blood’”.
Staying woke is a clause that comes to my mind as I write this. A clause that has become popular, too popular. It means a state of awareness especially one gotten through reading. And at this time, Nigerians should learn to stay woke. You are your responsibility.
Use your hand sanitizers. Get rid of rats, those little terrorists that have made the virus find home in their bodies. Report any high-grade fever quickly. All fevers are not caused malaria and typhoid. Same with general body weakness and pain.
Stay safe. If the government fails you, don’t fail yourself.