A Call to Sanity During #COVID-19 Curfew in Kenya

The onset (and aftermath) of Friday (27th March) night’s curfew is a classic example of how the world is made up of competing narratives/spectacles. Almost everyone who spoke up on social media sites had a valid point (from their vantage point):

  1. It is illegal for citizens to disobey curfew orders.
  2. It is illegal for police to use physical violence on people who are not resisting arrest or being physically violent.
  3. Many people could not make it home in time out of circumstances beyond their control.
  4. Many people risk losing their only source of livelihood (and thus sleep hungry) if they observe the curfew.

Truth is, we live in a world where these valid narratives, which seem to contradict one another, coexist because they apply to different population groups. It is easy to just focus on police brutality and ignore citizen responsibility. It is also easy to just focus on strict curfew observance and ignore extenuating circumstances (or the survival of many casual day laborers).

So what do we do?

I have a few suggestions:

  1. Silence in the face of injustice is not an option. Just because it is “understandable” under the current circumstances does not make it right. So please speak up against violence.
  2. Anarchy is not an option. We must strive to observe the law and submit to the government authority despite the present costs. So please try to observe the curfew however unfair it may look/feel/be.
  3. Loving your neighbor is an option. Do you know anyone who may be in a situation that makes it almost impossible for them to observe the curfew? What have you done to reach out and help either logistically or financially?
  4. Keep the big picture in view. Individual police officer infractions are not the main issue. The government (however incompetent you deem it) is not simply out to get you out of malice. We are not living in an authoritarian regime out to consolidate power by any means necessary. Preventing, managing and hopefully defeating #COVID19 is the reason we are all here.

The fact is tat we are not a situation where it would be business as usual if the government just backed off and left people alone. Of course there are many who will try to take advantage of the situation. The people won’t observe the curfew perfectly and the police won’t implement the curfew perfectly.

I am not saying this should cause us to look the other way (see point 1 above). I am saying that this shouldn’t invalidate the bigger mission. So let’s all try to be a little more considerate and a little less judgmental; a little more loving and a little less hateful; a little more socially responsible and a little less individualistic. A little more measured in our speech and a little less flippant.

Let’s practice KINDNESS.

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