COVID-19 is a viral infection. Contagion takes place when fluid from an infected person’s mouth or nose gets into the mouth or nose of an uninfected person. The novel virus has dealt healthcare systems around the world huge blows, crippled global economy, led to loss of jobs and has altered the social order, system of the world. Of course Nigeria is not left out. As a matter of fact, the country has received huge blows from the armless virus even though there are less than 10,000 confirmed cases and the social system is one of the worst hit. Nigeria is a country with vibrant, colourful cultures. Her rich artistic heritage, traditional and contemporary, greatly reflects on her people’s everyday life. Hotels, schools, wedding ceremonies, birthday parties, clubs, church and mosque services are some of the places an average Nigerian would be when not at home or work. These place, in no small measures hold the social fabrics of the society together. At these places, Nigerians are either seen holding hands, laughing heartily, sharing a drink, singing high pitch songs or dancing to the latest hits from their favourite artists. But with the arrival and subsequent spread of Covid-19 in Nigeria, such places are shadows of themselves. The fear of contagion has kept everyone out of these places. However, the decision to do this didn’t come easily.
The average Nigerian would not stay off these places without a strict order from the government and subsequent enforcement of the order by security agencies. Even when lives are at risk, some Nigerians love to stay through to who they are. The pandemic-triggered lockdown has affected social life in so many ways: it has disrupted movement within and inter-state, making it difficult to assembly in a particular location outside one’s comfort zone; children and adults cannot attend church services or go to mosques for prayers.
The process of school children attending excursion after holidays has been truncated. Working adults cannot hang out again after a hectic day at their offices as well as meeting up with colleagues and friends to share some drink. Precious family time to go to amusement parks have been put on hold for fear of the Covid-19. Furthermore, social distancing, which is recommended by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation, to prevent the spread of the virus has made it hard to have mutuality with friends and families through hugs, shaking of hands and family visits. It has also brought about idleness to most people especially the business men and women in the informal sector whose businesses are run daily.
The correlating line may be weak but there are indications that the truncation of the social system contributed to the recent spike in insecurity in south-western states.
Howbeit, the arrival of the pandemic may have some bright sides. Many believe it has provided opportunities to them whose works are too demanding to rest well and bond more with their families. For others it has given them the opportunity to self-develop, discover themselves more, learn new things and have a fresh view of life.
Furthermore, there are others who believe it didn’t affect them in any way in the sense that the internet has been their major way of socializing with friends and families.
The bottom-line is, this virus with no hands or legs has effectively walked Nigerians away from their characteristic social spaces. But while the urge to reclaim those spaces come, let us collectively say no and continue to endure the new norm while waiting for the defeat of the virus.
- Eboh writes in from Ibadan
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