Socialization is an important part of life that promotes healthy physical and mental well-being. In fact, healthy social behaviour has been linked to increased lifespan and general quality of life. We thrive from human interaction and a lack of it could lead to life-threatening illnesses. Additionally, we’re born and raised in social group settings which makes it difficult to change that aspect of our personality.
However, early last year, the world was shaken to the bone by the deadly COVID-19 virus. The disease was easily transmittable through physical contact. As such, we had to say goodbye to our social life as we knew it and embrace the new norm. Different countries were able to control the spread of the disease depending on how well their citizens adhered to the new social distancing rules. For Kenya, the reception was quite divided once the government imposed the regulations. People chose to either adapt or resist the new norm and it wasn’t a walk in the park regardless of the choice.
Kenyans went into a buying frenzy during the first weeks of the pandemic. However, the most peculiar thing was how everybody hoarded bulks of toilet paper. Whenever you’d go to the supermarket, you’d be lucky to find toilet paper. The shelves were also almost empty all the time. It was as if people were preparing for a doom’s day, and although the panic-buying died down after some time, it showed us our true human nature in the event of a catastrophe.
The CS Of Memes
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Health CS kept Kenyans updated on the latest developments surrounding the virus. While this can be boring to watch, Kenyans were glued to their screens. They not only listened to the updates but also waited for funny moments. It didn’t take long for KOT to turn the CS into a meme. From his funny facial expressions to his funny descriptions, Kenyans couldn’t get enough of his sense of humour.
The memes became a distraction from the stressful times and the CS even found them hilarious. Senator Mutahi Kagwe joins an elite list of African leaders who have become internet sensations including H.E Uhuru Kenyatta, Jacob Zuma, and Yoweri Museveni.
E-Learning & Working From Home
During one of his public addresses, the President urged all non-essential workers to work from home so as to reduce the chances of spreading the novel coronavirus. As such, most people had to get accustomed to being in the house for long periods and being productive. There were quite a number of challenges including learning to use Zoom and avoiding distractions especially for those who had children. Some parents resorted to locking themselves in the bedroom so as to get some work done away from the family.
Speaking of children, homeschooling became the new norm as schools were also closed shortly after the first COVID-19 case was discovered. Parents had to become teachers and adapt to e-learning to ensure that their children didn’t lag behind academically. 10 Dos And Don’ts Of Homeschooling
This was one of the hardest things for people to follow and it landed many behind bars. At the peak of the pandemic, the government imposed a night curfew that began at 7 pm to 5 am. To say that the police were overzealous in implementing the curfew is an understatement. Apart from unnecessary arrests, some went as far as attacking people found outside past hours. It was also reported that several people were killed by policemen enforcing the dusk to dawn curfew.
Over time, Kenyans discovered innovative ways to beat the curfew patrol. In an extreme case, a group of young people was caught using an ambulance to transport them home past curfew hours. Airbnbs became a popular alternative if people wanted to host a party. For revellers who chose to defy the curfew hours, they weren’t spared. The police swarm popular clubbing spots in town arresting everybody in the vicinity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has directly changed one of our social behaviours – the way we greet each other. Prior to the pandemic, we would hug, kiss, and shake hands when we met. Today, we’re limited to fist bumps, elbow bumps, or no contact at all. We even fist bump our grandparents when, once upon a time, it would have been deemed disrespectful. People have embraced other forms of greetings from different cultures including “Namaste”, bowing, or curtsying. How To Support Persons With COVID-19, Their Families, Healthcare Workers, And Vulnerable People
As the politicians geared up for the political season, they held rallies that defied all social distancing regulations. Attendees were seen in large crowds without masks or keeping 6 feet away from each other. Kenyans were outraged that people were getting arrested for not wearing masks while politicians were in full campaign mode without any fear of the rising coronavirus cases in the country. The backlash prompted some politicians, including the Deputy President, to cancel their rallies and scale down their public engagements.
For those who planned on having a wedding, they had to go back to the drawing board and reconsider their guest list. The government allowed public gatherings such as weddings and funerals but they were limited to 100 guests only. As such, most people resorted to either do an intimate wedding ceremony or get married at the Attorney General’s office then have a grand wedding once things return to normal.
Many Kenyans are religious and the pandemic caused a lot of conversations about meetups. Due to the government regulations which were quite strict at first, many people were forced to listen to sermons and other religious services from home. Many churches and mosques were closed down for the first month or two but gradually opened with limited numbers of people. Now many churches have appointment systems where people have to book their slots to attend church. Many older people and families with young children or vulnerable people are staying at home and watching services online.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have affected our social behaviours but Kenyans were still able to maintain the warm and vibrant personality that we’re known for. We didn’t lose our spirit of innovation and we turned a bad situation into a more tolerable one. Though the curfew is still in place and we’re not sure if things will ever go back to normal, the pandemic has taught many of us to adapt to different situations which is basically the essence of social behaviour.