BY PROF DR HALIMU SHAURI
(Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences; Pwani University)
The world has suffered many plagues and epidemics, some of which earned the label anti-social diseases.
In the history of the world, we have had the bubonic plague, black plague, leprosy, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, Ebola and now COVID-19.
Despite the anti-social nature of the other diseases in the past, however, corona is emerging the leader.
Before COVID-19 was known late last year, HIV/AIDS and Ebola used to send cold chills at the backbone of humanity.
This has all changed, albeit suddenly, with limited warning. One characteristic of anti-social diseases is the labeling that causes stigma, which leads to discrimination in the way people get to be treated outside the norm.
The labelling becomes so intense to include those even at the forefront mitigating its effect.
When HIV/AIDS was the leader, you would hear people call those who advocated for it’s prevention called “watu wa AIDS”, literary meaning the AIDS people.
I have already had parents and children call those in the forefront, “watu wa Korona”, literally meaning the corona people.
Parents let’s correct and teach our children the correct portfolios of people in the forefront fighting COVID-19 to minimize stigma and discrimination.
Corona is the leading anti-social disease of our time going by its mode of transmission.
The world was almost reaching closer to each other; even physical distance was being cut by technology and the concept of the global village.
COVID-19 has cut in the middle to reduce our social in our social being. We used to shake hands, hug, peck, kiss, mooch and touch each other on the head and other human parts to express how close and social we were to each other. Now the song is social distance, meaning all these are not possible.
We used to sit in the office, class, boardrooms, restaurants, bars and other entertainment sports closer to each other, aka “unyounyo”.
In some joints more close than the meaning of closeness can define! Alas! Corona has soiled all these human efforts to prove their sociability.
Worse is when one catches the virus. Harsh words are used to justify the Anti-social nature of the diseases such as quarantine and, isolation.
This literally means you will be alone as you struggle to heal. Whether self-quarantine or isolation it all boils down to making us anti-social beings.
Even government efforts to deal with the epidemic is anti-social. Measures like curfews, lockdown and shutdown, all are pointers of how COVID-19 is taking us back to our animal tendencies. Everyone for himself and God for us all!
Accordingly, there is all the reasons to fight the epidemic to reclaim our human nature, that of Social beings.
Whoever is refusing to comply with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and government guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 is resisting our joint efforts to reclaim our status as superior beings because of our sociability.
If we don’t win the war against Corona, then we are at risk of losing the very basis that makes us better than lower animals in the process of social interaction, facilitated by our social nature.
How social the future becomes, depends on how quickly this epidemic will be arrested.