From Ireland to Lesotho During a Pandemic
As my flight did a descent into the Mountain Kingdom, I was quickly disillusioned by how missing home had caused me to romanticize the place. I dreamt of the dreamy lush, green valleys I would be coming home to. I dreamt of the waterfalls and lakes and saw so vividly the herd boys chasing fattened cows and their calves across open fields. My people are known for being people of peace and I had imagined our women with bright eyes and wide smiles, walking from village to village with babies strapped to their backs and firewood on their heads, despite that being the stark mark of underdevelopment which did not match my romantic notions of my homeland. In reality, red dust blew atop newly erected corrugated iron make-shift supermarkets and take-away restaurants, carrying with it discarded plastic and paper. Empty glass bottles littered the sides of the roads like sad little children waiting for neglectful parents that would never come.
Ireland had furnished my mind with an education and my body found comfort in their lands at the start of a global pandemic. I appreciated fully the comforts of the first world which social media made me starkly aware that my fellow Africans in Africa were not enjoying. Public transport in Ireland allowed for social distancing, shops were controlled, personal protective equipment was easily accessible and most importantly, information on the Coronavirus and testing was widely available so the public acted accordingly to protect themselves and their communities.
As the world grew into a bigger crisis and the ripples of trauma from Wuhan to Ireland, to the world, to Africa as well as my homeland surged seemingly unabated, my soul grew restless. This was not made any easier by reports of police and military brutality against the public who congregated despite the national lockdown imposed by country’s government. Hardship is so easily forgotten and while in my first world cocoon, I could not reconcile how any government would let the battering of its people come to pass; an understanding lost to me for it conflicted with my romantic notions of my homeland – the nation of peace. If I had been true to myself, I would have remembered that my government, led by mediocrity, would not disseminate enough information on Coronavirus to make available to the public. On the throat of our nation, the firm grip of alcoholism reared its ugly head to be greeted by a nationwide alcohol ban.
Now I am back home, post disillusionment, post reverse culture shock, unemployed and in an economic crisis and on the face of it, the story of the world fails to be hinged on hope. The story of this Kingdom has shattered my rose tinted glasses. It is a friend from high school, the parent of friend, a neighbour, a relative or someone I never knew, all gone under the new administration of Coronavirus; the dictator which punishes disobedience with death. Graveyards are still not at capacity and graves still have not lined up the roadsides as promised by Lesotho’s government in April of 2020. Perhaps that is our hope although reports state that mortuaries are currently overflowing. As I click through social media pages and note the crowds that come together to celebrate life in confined spaces; friends sharing drinks, hugs and kisses, I see all hope fade. Their music, joy and laughter is drowned by the current news headlines of a second wave of the Coronavirus and the spreading of a new virus with a mutation. The only certainty is that this too shall pass and that is what gives me hope.