By Kenyatta Otieno
Oulu GPO (RIP) was one courageous soul. Every time I think of Oulu Jaseme I remember his swearing in as Vice Chair of SONU. He was then doing his teaching practice at Kabete Technical Institute. He got delayed in class so he showed up late for the swearing in at The Chancellor’s Court. His acceptance speech was laced with naunces of FD Roosevelt’s inauguration speech as USA president in March 1932.
I had an instant connection with GPO. As student activists, we had heard about each other long before we met. So there was no need for introductions. We then got to realize that we spoke Luhya and traded other languages for a quip or two in Luhya. Then we both stuttered though he had a mild version of it. So, I was waiting for his speech that day anxiously. He held the microphone confidently and told students that nobody should stop them from cooking in the hostels. “Cook all the sukuma wiki around the hostels, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.”
I wish that in the face of this Corona Virus, I would tell you that there is nothing to fear but fear. FDR was taking over the White House when things were not only thick but gloomy. Americans were losing jobs by the minute in the great depression. There was a lot to desperation as people moved into shacks to cut on costs. The good thing is FDR was coming into the hot seat from New York Governor’s office. The Big Apple was one of worst hit zones. His speech was proof that he was the right man for the job. He outlined the problem and what he was going to do solve them and rolled up his sleeves.
No sooner had he settled in his second term than other ghosts showed up. Hitler invaded Poland in September 1939 and the Second World War began. Japan surprised the USA in December 1941 Pearl Habour attack to complicate things further. FDR ended up spending twelve years in power instead of eight.
We are in the middle of a global epidemic. As things look, we may be in for long bumpy ride. I have decided to live by faith, so there is nothing to fear. Have you noticed something, where are our politicians?
To paraphrase FDR, our distress comes from no failure of substance. Covid-19 has made us forget the plague of locusts. All this is nothing compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid. My ancestors fought and fled sleeping sickness on the islands of Lake Victoria for decades. My presence on Facebook is proof that we still have much to be thankful for. Meanwhile the politics changers have deserted their high seats at the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple back to ancient truths.
Nobody is outlining what is wrong with our health care. Nobody is telling us the long and short of this virus. Nobody is coming up with concrete solutions after the hope and reassurance at press conferences. That’s where our fight stops. We have no clear lines of attack so we can only hope for the best and avoid the police.
All we can do is pray for grace and in faith hope for the best. If things get worse than they are, it will be catastrophic and you will be on your own. Instead of hoarding food, keep some cash to bribe a hospital manager to reserve an ICU bed with a ventilator for you just in case you will need it. There is a lot to fear