GATHIGI: Kenyans still throwing caution to the winds in burials amid COVID-19 pandemic
Tuesday, July 28th, 2020
By George Gathigi,
Last Friday, and the one before, I attended two burials. One in Muranga and another in Kiserian.
In both, there was absolute carelessness and non-observation of the prescribed COVID-19 right practices, especially social distancing and [appropriate] wearing of masks. In both, I stayed a good distance.
Clearly, our people still don't understand the risks involved. And our last respect rituals remain weak and largely misplaced.
Yes, we want to send our loved ones off and show them love but not at the expense of risking the lives of the living.
There are three entities with responsibility here, in this order: The family, the church, and the administration.
Families, respect the protocols. They aren't the government's protocols.
They are our protocols because they are protecting us, the people. We get sick, not the government. People can come for five minutes, express their solidarity, make contribution, and leave.
Some of our families are even so big that the 50 people don't even constitute one percent. Regardless, we have to protect ourselves.
One burial was Catholic Church led and it took four hours.
The second was the new independent sect, it took the same amount of time.
I think preachers and adherents are looking for an opportunity to connect, but it's still not safe.
The longer the stay, the more people we are putting at risk.
The administration, I really sympathize with them. In both cases, they provided guidelines way in advance and were on site.
They try to enforce but people don't listen. People are getting mad when told you cannot get cramped together.
Everybody wants to be on the frontline. There's nothing administrators can do if we don't support them.
We act as if they are trying to enforce protocols for their own benefit. We leave them to be admonished by their seniors.
We are being selfish in a stupid way (for lack of a better word). By being on the frontline, you are risking yourself, your family, and those that we interact with.
I know we process risk differently. That despite years of seeing overturned tankers bursting into flames, there's something that tells us, "go scoop the petroleum product" because it's some form of opportunity.
Then you are all burned. We have kids at home that we don't bring to these events because it is not safe, so let's observe care since we are going home to them. Let's learn to show love and care from a distance.
Different times calls for different behaviour. Have a safe day.
Dr. George Gathigi is a lecturer at the School of Journalism, University of Nairobi.