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Coronavirus, Africans and Social Distancing – By Professor Phil Alalibo

By Professor Phil Alalibo | NNP | March 22, 2020


Olu: Goodmorning!

Nimi: Yes, Olu, goodmorning to you too. I am surprised you are still around. I thought you travelled to Ibadan yesterday to see your mother?

Olu: Which Ibadan are you talking about?

Nimi: See dis man, oh! How many Ibadan do we have in Nigeria? I am talking about the one in Oyo State.

Olu: Leave me alone. I am not going again.  I am staying put in Lagos.

Nimi: Why? Don’t you want to see your mother anymore? I thought you said she was sick. Or is it the money you don’t have for transportation?


Olu: If you want to dash me money, I wouldn’t refuse.

Nimi: How many times have I told you to stop spending money on alcohol? You drink too much. It is not good for your health. You are just wasting away.

Olu: That is the only way I can forget my problems in this country. Too many problems to worry about. If it is not armed robbers at night, it is kidnappers in the day. If it is not kidnappers, it is lack of electricity. If it is not that one, it is the bad roads. If not that one it is unemployment. Our wahala in this country is too much. I don tire!

Nimi: How can there be so many problems in this great country headed by Buhari? Is Buhari not the greatest leader we have ever had?  Is Nigeria not the biggest economy in Africa? After all, we are not the giant of Africa for nothing.

Olu: You’re a big dreamer! We are not even giant in our own country, not to talk about Africa. Abeg, leave that one alone. How can Buhari be the greatest leader when he partly lives in London?

Nimi: Olu, you are a funny man. But you have still not told me why you did not travel to Ibadan.

Olu: So you have not heard what is going on in the world?

Nimi: Tell me, what is going on? I’ve not been on the news lately.

Olu: Corona is everywhere infecting people. If I travel in a crowded public bus to Ibadan, I might contract the disease.

Nimi: How can Corona beer, ordinary beer, be infecting people? Olu, are you okay up there? Are your mental faculties together?

Olu: Look, Nimi, I am not talking about Corona beer, this is a very serious matter. The virus has killed over 13,000 people around the world with more than 308, 000 infected. People are dying in the hundreds daily in Italy. It is no laughing matter.

Nimi: Oh, you are talking about coronavirus. You mean the virus is still killing people around the world?  I thought it came from China.

Olu: And so?

Nimi: If so, it should not last. Nothing made in China last long. The virus would soon disappear.

Olu: Well, the virus is not going anywhere for now. It has spread to 167 countries and five cruise ships. Countries are closing borders, including the European Union closing its borders.

Nimi: So this virus has turned the world on its head and messed up the world order?
Olu: Not only that. The United States has banned travelers from Europe, including its biggest ally, the UK, for thirty days. Canada too has closed its borders to non-citizens and permanent residents and restricted travel on their border with the United States. The entire population in Italy and Spain, 60 and 46 million respectively, are on lockdown. Also, I just read that 40 million residents of California and 19 million in New York are all on lockdown.

Nimi: So, this is a very serious situation.

Olu: “Serious” does not begin to describe it. It is dire. Life as we know it has changed for good. The economies of developed countries might collapse since business and global commerce have come to a halt with the restriction of movement as a result of lockdowns in many countries. The United States, Canada, Australia, UK and other Western countries have been pumping billions of dollars and pounds to support their economies. But how long can they be pumping that much money? Their treasurers are not bottomless.

Nimi: Seriously? Hmmm. Tell me more.

Olu: Just today, I heard that South Africa will not allow foreigners who have landed in their country to disembark from the plane.
Nimi: So where will the foreigners go after traveling for several hours to get to South Africa?

Olu: Back to where they came from. Not only that, the president, Cyril Ramaphosa, was on state TV this week, banning Americans, Europeans, Chinese, Iranians and others from entering South Africa.

Nimi: So with all these countries banning foreigners, what is Nigeria doing to prevent the virus from spreading? I heard that we have only 22 cases with no deaths.

Olu: So you don’t watch the news?

Nimi: My brother, I have been very busy.

Olu: Buhari has taken decisive action to ban citizens from the United States, UK, Germany, Japan, China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, France, Norway, Netherlands and even Switzerland.

Nimi: Wait Olu, let me understand. So this Nigeria we live in has banned citizens from all these developed and powerful Western countries? Do we have the power to ban these people? Are you sure they will not come and wipe us off the earth with their nuclear weapons?

Olu: Of course, we have the power to ban whoever we want. We are an independent country.

Nimi: Wonders shall never seize to end.

Olu: What do you mean?

Nimi: Usually, these countries are the ones banning us. Didn’t the United States put Nigeria on the travel ban list just before the outbreak of the virus?

Olu: Yes, Trump did along with Tanzania.

Nimi: So now, it’s our turn to ban them from Nigeria. Not only Americans, but almost all Europeans from our country. The tables have turned, and I am proud to be a Nigerian. In fact, I am proud to be an African!

Olu: Nimi, you will kill me with laughter. So because we ban citizens from these countries due to the wide outbreak of the virus, you are suddenly proud to be a Nigerian and even an African? Where was your pride before?

Nimi: Don’t worry about where my pride was. We now have the power to ban Americans, Europeans and even Chinese, Japanese and South Koreans from entering our country and continent. For once, Africa is not the center of a deadly global disease like ebola.

Olu: Don’t be too excited. Once the outbreak is over, it will be back to business as usual.

Nimi: What do you mean business as usual?

Olu: The Americans and Europeans will start banning us again for just being Africans.

Nimi: Why will they ban us for just being Africans?

Olu: That is the truth. They have done it many times under different policies with fancy titles.

Nimi: No matter what they do after this is over, I am still proud to be an African.

Olu: I see! Good for you.

Nimi: But wait, Olu, what is happening in Italy is very serious and sad. I heard that hundreds are dying every day from the virus.

Olu: You are right, very sad. I wish I could help save lives over there.

Nimi: But it also means that Africans will no longer be crossing the Mediterranean Sea, risking their lives to seek greener pastures in Italy and Europe if they know they are likely to contract the deadly virus.

Olu: The virus is so powerful that it is enforcing Italian immigration laws all by itself. Africans don’t want to die, so they will remain in their countries and pray for the Italians.

Nimi: But after they finish praying, they should developed their countries so there will be no need to travel outside to seek the so-called greener pastures. The Italians worked hard to develop their country, Africans should do the same to their continent.

Olu: Nimi, you are making sense for once. Yes, Africans should develop their continent and make it attractive for them to remain at home. Why are they all rushing to Europe when Africa has so much resources? Our leaders are the problem.

Nimi: So with virus running amuck all over Europe, it means that African leaders will no longer be travelling to Europe to seek medical treatment. This may be the only good thing that has come out of this sad development.

Olu: You are right. They are all staying put in their presidential palaces, avoiding travel.

Nimi: So suddenly, these African leaders are all hale and healthy. Their illnesses have all disappeared. None of them have traveled to Europe or America since the outbreak of the virus.

Olu: This will teach them a very serious lesson to develop their healthcare sector, so there is no need to travel abroad for ear infection like Buhari or other illnesses. Look at Mugabe, after 37 years in power, he still died in Singapore. In 37 years, he could not develop the healthcare sector in his country to the level of seeking treatment there. He had to die in a strange land.

Nimi: So what Africans cannot accomplish with their leaders, an invisible virus has?

Olu: It looks that way. The good thing is, African leaders cannot arrest the virus and charge it with high treason for disrupting their travel plans. They cannot send their militia to assassinate it either.

Nimi: Olu, stop! You are killing me with your sense of humor. My ribs can’t take it anymore.

Olu: Hmmm…

Nimi: But if they cannot arrest it, they can at least bribe the virus not to infect them if they travel to Europe.

Olu: The virus will not accept naira, it is a worthless currency outside Nigeria. They will have to bribe it with dollars or Chinese currency, RMB.

Nimi: How about Zimbabwean dollars?

Olu: Don’t be silly! Does Zimbabwe have currency?

Nimi: Trust our politicians, they have foreign accounts in all currencies.

Olu: Look, it is very important that we prevent the virus from spreading in Nigeria, and we must act fast. This is a very serious matter and all of us must act to slow the spread of the virus.

Nimi: You are right, my brother. All hands must be on deck for this one. Nigerians must practice what they are calling “Social Dancing” and constant handwashing to reduce the spread of the virus.

Olu: What is “Social Dancing?” How will “social dancing” prevent the virus?

Nimi: So you have not heard of “social dancing?” Everyone is talking about it as a way to reduce the spread of the virus.

Olu: Oh, you mean “social distancing?” You see, you need to be up on the news not to embarrass yourself in this way! How can a grown man like you, a university graduate, confuse social dancing with social distancing?

Nimi: Oh, sorry, I was confused, it’s social distancing. It is a must, I hear. The Lagos State Government today just declared that there cannot be gatherings of more than 20 people. But with our dense population of over 200 million and so many people in public spaces like the market, public transportation, churches, mosques, streets, and other places, how can we practice social distancing?

Olu: Hmmm. This is something to think about! It will be difficult because Nigerians and Africans are very close physically with their loved ones.

Nimi: How will the market women maintain social distancing when they are selling fresh fish, cow skin and goat meat? Once they see a customer with money in hand, social distancing goes off the window.

Olu: I didn’t know you were a comedian.

Nimi: How about the politicians? One politician alone travels with more than 20 people in his entourage, above the number recommended by the Lagos State Government. In that entourage are his wives, girlfriends, children, drivers, security details, cooks, briefcase holders, shoe shiners, teeth brushers, cloth ironers and personal assistants. Our social culture is not friendly to social distancing.

Olu: This is a very good point.

Nimi: There is another problem with this social distancing in Africa, especially Nigeria.

Olu: What is the problem?

Nimi: Our social life…

Olu: What do you mean? I don’t understand.

Nimi: How will Nigerians have their Owambe parties and spray money with the advice of social distancing? You know our people, they cannot survive a weekend without their Owambe party.

Olu: I don’t see this as a problem.

Nimi: Why, I am surprised.

Olu: They can have their Owambe parties on a soccer field, and maintain social distancing while they are dancing and gyrating. The National Stadium in Surelele is available.

Nimi: Olu, you have come with your jokes.

Olu: But jokes aside, we have to practice it somehow. We have no choice in the matter, it is a matter of life or death. We must change our lifestyles to defeat this very deadly virus from spreading in Nigeria and across the world. It is our moral and civil responsibility. We must sneeze into our elbows or sleeves. We must also wash hands regularly and avoid touching our face. This is also very important, because the virus can only enter our body through our mouth, nose and eyes.

Nimi: But for Nigerians to wash their hands regularly, it means they must have running water all the time.

Olu: True. Many Nigerians and Africans don’t have access to running water.

Nimi: It is sad. Bad leadership will kill Africans…

Olu: Bad leadership, my brother. Only God will help Africans. Now Nimi…

Nimi: What Olu?

Olu: Fall on your knees!

Nimi: What kind of order is that? Have you forgotten who you are speaking to?

Olu: We must pray for Italy and other parts of the world heavily affected by the virus.

Nimi: Oh, in that case, why not. Only God can heal us and stop the spread of this deadly virus from consuming us.

Olu: Let us pray!

Nimi: Yes, let us pray!

Olu: Oh’ God, we pray for those affected by this virus in Nigeria, Africa and across the world, especially, Italy, where many have died. You are the greatest physician, touch them with your healing power and comfort the families of those lost to this dreadful virus. Protect and strengthen the doctors, nurses and other frontline workers who are battling this virus and saving lives…

Olu & Nimi: Amen!wp_posts

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Posted by on Mar 22 2020. Filed under Articles, Headlines, NNP Columnists, Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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