Every level has a devil!

In terms of furniture, with these, I was sorted.

Not All That Glitters is Gold!!

My colleagues envied me because they believed that I had the best accommodation deal. The truth was that my seemingly wonderful one-roomed accommodation came with its own challenges!

The place was a compound where several people lived, and the landlord also lived there. Because he wanted to have as many tenants as possible, he only used two rooms with his wife and kids. The rest were let out which meant a lot of people at the compound but more money for him. Since he was not working, his house was his only source of income.

My room was in the better part of the compound which was inside the newly constructed 4 or 5 roomed house. When I was being shown around, I only saw the toilet and asked where the bathroom was. I was shocked to learn that there wasn’t any!

Culture Shock!

Say what?? Yes, there was NO bathroom. There was only one toilet which was located a few metres from the house. Oh, my word!!

What I had come to learn about living in Botswana was that having a bathroom was not essential. You could find a beautiful 5 or 6 roomed house or bigger with no bathing area as people washed in big metal dishes right inside the house. When I first heard about that practice, I was extremely shocked because I had never known people to live like that.

In Botswana, there are “Mazezuru” people who are in the trade of making these dishes which people use to wash inside the house and throw the water out afterward.

This was the biggest culture shock for me! In Zimbabwe, bathrooms and toilets are part of every house plan, especially in town dwellings. I had never come across a house without a bathroom before. In Zimbabwe, it is also common practice that the toilet can serve as a bathroom. It would just be constructed in such a way that when one bathes the water flows out into the right channels leading to the drainage pipes. After bathing, one would then dry the floor and leave it ready to be used as a toilet.

What a shock! No bathroom and a takeaway toilet!! This ablution was just a closet standing on its own and each time you walked in there everyone would see where you had gone to and how long you took in there. It took some adjusting. But, did I have a choice?? The only plus was the fact that there was clean running water. It was, of course, a tap outside the house, which was still acceptable.

At the end of the day, all I wanted was a place to lay my head and go to work. Again, luxury was not of the essence. I would have that back home in Zimbabwe. In Botswana, I had come to earn a living.

Moving into the new house

When I moved from the house in Tonota, I hired a taxi to ferry my belongings. I did not have any movable furniture but a few belongings. This meant that moving to a new house was not a major challenge. The few belongings I possessed had been made possible by the fact that, while I was hunting for a place to stay, I had also been preparing for my new home; so I had managed to buy an airbed, a stove, and some cooking utensils. All these could fit perfectly into the Toyota Corolla that I hired as transport.

When I found this new place, days into the month, I moved in immediately. I was also excited to use the new items I had bought and never used. It was like moving into a new mansion! Even though there was a long-distance toilet and no bathroom, I was still excited to move in. I, mostly, loved the idea that I could walk to work which was about a five-minute walk away. Transport costs had been eliminated and I could use that money for other things or just save it.

I bought a big plastic dish (for bathing) at once! It was not as big as the metal ones used by the locals, but big enough for me to kneel inside and take a ‘decent’ bath. It was the type that we use for laundry in Zimbabwe. With time, I mastered the art of bathing in a dish in my room daily. It was so hard at first as I would splash water all over the place and be forced to wipe the floor after bathing. I even had to buy a jug which I used to scoop water to wash my back and lessen the water splashed on the floor.

In Francistown, there were plenty of “Chinese” shops where items were hugely affordable to low-income earners. I considered myself as a low-income earner back then, in fact, there was nothing to consider: I was a low-income earner. In one of the shops, I bought a small blanket to use as a bathing tub mat.

At bath times I would spread this throw on the floor and place the dish on top of it then take my bath. After my bath, I would hang the mat blanket outside to dry in preparation for the next bath time. This routine worked perfectly because there was less or no water on the floor after bathing.

Because the toilet was located a few metres away from the house, it meant that going there to relieve oneself at night was out of the question. The most obvious solution to this problem was using a bucket at night. A friend told me of a trick to kill the urine stench through the night. She told me to put a bit of washing powder and some water in the bucket before use. I tried it and it worked!!

So, the room I was renting was basically a three-in-one: bedroom, bathroom, and toilet! I am laughing my lungs out as I write this!! It now sounds very funny but at the time I was not laughing because that was the reality that I had to embrace as the new normal.

Breaking rule number one!

Oh, and this three-in-one room came with rules! Rule number one was: no visitors, at all!! The landlord said to me: “I know you, Zimbabweans. When you get a place to stay in Francistown you start calling the whole community you left back home to tell them that you have found accommodation and they should come!” I found it very insulting to me and the whole of my country to be labeled in that manner and be treated like people who do not have any rights as humans because of where we came from.

However, I did not mind that rule because I was not thinking of bringing any visitors. I just needed a place to lay my head and go to work. Can you imagine that even the friends I worked with could not visit me!!

I got the taste of the landlord’s wrath when one day, out of the blue, my cousin called me around 1800hrs to tell me that he had arrived in Francistown and that he was at the bus rank. He wanted me to give him directions to my place! I was petrified! I could not leave him there to spend the night at the bus rank and I could not bring him to my place. He had traveled all the way from Zimuto, Masvingo.

How would I get out of this one? I was caught between a rock and a hard place. I was not permitted to have visitors and I could not leave him homeless overnight. I braved it and told him to wait for me as I lived close by; I went to collect him and all the time I was imagining how I was going to get him into the house without the landlord’s notice. I had made up my mind to just sneak him in. Since it was getting dark, I would use the night as my shield.

When we returned to the house, I prepared supper and after eating I set up for him to sleep in the lounge. The lady who was renting another bedroom and the lounge through which I passed to get to my room was away, so I actually put my cousin in someone else’s room!

In the morning, after we had just finished eating breakfast and were getting ready to leave, the landlord walked in. I was almost feeling I had got away with this one but was I wrong!!!

That day I was reduced to nothing by that man! Right in front of my cousin, he scolded me and accused me of trying to run his household. Every Zimbabwean was being scolded through me because he was addressing me as “You, Zimbabweans…” I had never been scolded like that in my entire life. And that man could shout!!!!

After he walked out of the house, my cousin and I just left the house and headed for town. No one spoke as we walked to my school. Fortunately, my cousin had only planned to spend one night in Francistown, do his shopping, and return to Zimbabwe on the overnight buses which left Francistown around 1500hrs.

I stayed in that house and endured the insults of the landlord, together with a female colleague who had also joined me in that house and rented a room which was next to mine, for over a year. My friend and I would laugh about his ‘madness’ and I suppose having someone to share my misery with sort of made the burden lighter. However, no one in the world can live with such a person forever, we all have our breaking points.

Getting fed up

My friend and I agreed that enough was enough and decided to find alternative accommodation. She found hers first and left. Was the landlord mad!!! The guy went ballistic!!! He did not like the idea of suddenly losing an income, but he could not respect the people who made that possible. He screamed for hours and even told me to also leave with my friend since I was the one who had brought her to him. I just ignored his tantrums but became more determined to leave the house.

I searched high and low for another house but finding a place where I would not incur transport costs was imperative. This made my search even more difficult as I was limited to certain areas of Francistown. Because I did not earn enough, it was important for me to ensure I did not add commuting expenses to my already strained budget. As luck would have it, I found a neat cottage in an area called Town Centre which was also within walking distance from my place of employment and affordable! The area was on the other side of town, a sort of low-density area near the CBD. I paid my deposit and rent and now had to find a way to tell my current landlord that I would be leaving at the end of that very month and we were already mid-month. I knew that the news would not be received well.

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The Grass Is Not Always Greener On The Other Side!

Starting a new life in a new country was not always easy!

After the first signs of harsh working and living conditions at the new school, I unbelievably went back for more! When I returned to Botswana after securing the indefinite sick leave, I was expecting the work situation to, somehow, improve but not change entirely.

I must admit that this stage in my teaching career was the most difficult. I understood that it would be a long time before I would be able to receive a full salary at the end of each month, but I was prepared to leave with that reality and just be able to, at least, send some foodstuffs and money back home.

A Zimbabwean School in Botswana

My place of employment had a primary and secondary school: I was in the secondary section. The teachers at this school were mostly from Zimbabwe with the only local teacher being the Setswana language teacher. We all worked very hard for the salaries that came in instalments throughout the month.

I remember the first time I arrived in Botswana, most of the teachers at the school where I was teaching (from both the primary and secondary schools) were accommodated in a nearby small village, Tonota, about 30km from Francistown. The school was renting two houses in a compound that belonged to a certain organization. The male teachers occupied one house while the female teachers occupied the other.

In the shared accommodation, just like boarding school pupils, we slept on thin rubber foam mattresses like pupils in a boarding school. Going through the night on these extremely thin mattresses was very painful, especially for someone who had spent years sleeping on a Luxaire “Fantasy” bed. In one bedroom, there were three or four people.

A few lucky ones had the pleasure of sleeping on single size spring beds on the same thin rubber mattresses used by those who slept on the floor. Since I was the new teacher, there was no way I would have had the privilege of sleeping on the spring bed. I felt like a rookie!! Uncomfortable as it is, in this case, it was bliss to have one to sleep on!

Luxury was not the issue here, it was simply a question of having a roof over your head and being able to wake up, bath and go to work.

For cooking, there was an old over-used two plate stove which we all had access to in turns. Some people had cooking teams and would prepare their meals together on the worn-out stove. Some of the teachers who had been around longer than I had managed to buy their own cooking implements, so did not have to queue up to cook which also helped make the cooking queue shorter.

At that time my target became to secure my own stove and pots, etc! I had big dreams of how I would live my life if and when my financial situation improved.

Harsh Working Conditions

Our working day started very early and ended late! We would leave the house at 0530am daily which meant one had to wake up and prepare well before that. Thankfully, the house had a solar geyser so there was warm bathing water!

I never understood why we had to leave this early to get to work only to sit in school and wait for learners who came in at 0730am. It was many months later that I found out that the reason was that the teacher who drove the Minibus we used had no licence to ferry passengers!!! So, we left that early to avoid running into the police.

The job involved teaching day school and night school which meant that we knocked off around 8pm! Returning home at the end of each working day and arriving around 9pm to start cooking was a tall order! But it had to be done and I had to make it work, somehow.

We worked very hard, in fact honestly and earnestly but we were not being paid well or on time. It was common to just receive a fraction of our salaries for the whole of term 3 that I worked full time. However, the small amounts I was receiving intermittently, when converted to the Zimbabwe currency would actually give me more than my Zimbabwean salary. The school authorities knew this and decided to capitalize on our misfortunes.

Have you ever worked for an employer who wants to use the situation in your country of origin to exploit you? You are given a lot of work but when it comes to the salary it is a different ball game altogether! I do not understand why people can utter statements like: “This amount of money you earn, if you take it to Zimbabwe you will be a king!” Hello!!!!

Believe me when I say that I have heard this statement so many times and I have found it degrading and extremely insulting!

Between 2002 and 2008, the economic situation of Zimbabwe deteriorated drastically! This situation forced millions of skilled citizens to flee the country in search of better lives, and I am one of them!

The truth is that the grass was just not greener on the other side. It was unfortunate that our troubles back home made us prey to jackals who felt it necessary to exploit us because we ‘had nowhere to run to’. African Foreigners all over the world continue to fall victim to exploitation by thousands by employers. However, some lucky ones who work for good employers enjoy their work experiences abroad.

One thing I am proud of as a Zimbabwean is a fact that, despite the economic challenges in our country, our government availed quality education to the people in the beginning. As a result, most Zimbabweans are well-educated and hardworking; because of this strength, they are able to penetrate most, if not all the countries in the world in search of ways to survive. And even survive in harsh conditions!

Sadly, the Zimbabweans’ desperate profile provided unscrupulous employers with the opportunity to use us for cheap labour despite our qualifications and experience.

Our country of origin continues to work in our disfavour. In spite of all this, we soldier on relentlessly.

Making It Against All Odds!

 Back to my account! The situation I had to adjust to went on till the end of the year. What would happen was that every time there was cash available the money would be shared among all the teachers. Because I was the last one to come into the school, I would always receive the smallest figure and be told that the other teachers were owed more than me. This just added to my frustrations, but I held on and continued to work hard hoping for change.

These part salaries would be paid as and when there was money available from school fees payments, so there was no set pay date. Private schools in Botswana have in place a system where fees are paid monthly, however, in this school, not all parents were consistent with their payments. Most of the time the fees paid would be channelled to the school owner’s personal needs, leaving teachers stranded and hungry!

BWP35 Take Home!

Though the money we received was very small, we somehow managed to survive fairly. I could send money or groceries back home regularly. I remember a day where I signed for BWP35 as part payment of my salary. This was after all the cash available had been divided equally among all the teachers. This was the lowest I had ever received because normally it would be BWP100 or more. The highest lump sum I receive that term was BWP600! On this day I felt like I was on top of the world!!!

Living comfortably was, of course, not important at that time. It was just a question of survival. If I say this was easy, I would be lying: this period in my career was a trying one that I can never forget. When I look back, I can safely say I have surely come a long way!

This was only my first full term with the school where I was to spend the next two years of my teaching career!!!

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My Journey Through The Years as A Teacher ….

The Long Journey of a Teacher Of French and English

My first foreign country teaching experience started in Botswana.

My journey as a teacher of French started when I got to secondary school and I had to choose between French and the local language of my country.

Picking the local language was not an option. You see, during my primary school days, the local language was not compulsory as a subject because we did not even write it as a primary leaving examination subject.

There were only two subjects written at Grade 7 level: Mathematics and English. My country had inherited the pre-colonial ways where the local languages were disregarded. It was a few years later that the local languages became compulsory and examinable at the primary level.

I remember my first French teacher was a Mauritian gentleman, Mr. Bapoo. Sadly, he had to return to Mauritius, and we were left without a teacher for a long time until we were rescued by a gentleman from Zambia.

He also left and we got another gentleman from France, Mr. McGhee, who took us through to our final examinations. I do not know how I passed French because when I look at my secondary school years, I spent more time without a French teacher than with one.

My passion for the subject was high from the beginning because I continued to work on my own using the textbooks. We had no internet those days which made self-learning a challenge. Nonetheless, I persevered.

When I completed my secondary education, I went to a Teacher’s college and specialized in French and English, after which I went to Reunion Island for more French teaching training at the University of Tampon.

 I returned to Zimbabwe and taught for many years then decided to further my education by enrolling at the University of Zimbabwe to study French and Portuguese on a full-time basis for three years.

The years at university were not without their own drama. In Zimbabwe, you cannot say you have gone through university if you have not breathed in tear gas! I remember at one time some students mobilized themselves to march to the State House for what was termed the “Final Push!”

The march was in a bid to show the then-president R. G. Mugabe that people wanted him out of office. They did not get far with their march as they were stopped in their tracks by a Police Roadblock along Sam Nujoma Way. The only results they got from that march were hundreds of Riot police officers on campus over a week!

I remember soldiers and police officers came in tear gas spitting tanks and terrorized students on campus regardless of whether one took part in the foiled march or not. Every morning the riot police officers would come to the university and sit in trees around the college.

I could tell they were enjoying themselves as they would chant anti-student songs while students inside the college would also be chanting anti-police songs. It was really comical when the police officers were not using their baton sticks and tear gas on students.

These numerous unrests forced the college to shut down on a few occasions.

When I finally and thankfully completed my studies, I returned to my teaching post, but I only taught for two years and resigned to pursue a career in another country.

The economic situation in Zimbabwe had become sour: as a teacher, it had become increasingly difficult to make ends meet on the meager salary we received. We had to find ways to survive. It had become a sink or swim situation.

Therefore, I decided to swim. The school where I was teaching was a government boarding school regarded as an “elite” school. The who’s who of the province and country sent their children there. It was not surprising to find that students had more pocket money than what their teachers earned at the end of each month.

An idea came to me. What if I sold sweets? And I started. The response was astounding! I couldn’t meet the demand at first as I had ordered small amounts, unsure of how the “customers” would respond to my “business.”

After seeing the positive response, I had to increase the supply. With time I ventured into different items like lollipops, chocolate bars, chips, cakes, and doughnuts! I made a lot of cash on a weekly basis and I would buy foreign currency and save my money in that form.

Every week I counted profits, real profits! I was never cash-strained, and I always had foreign currency on me throughout the month. I remember those days we used to be in money groups where we put people into teams of 5 or 6 people who would decide how much they wanted to contribute monthly, in Rand currency, between ZAR300 and ZAR500.

The members would all bring their monthly contributions and all the money would be given to one member on a rotational basis. The member receiving would host a party where food and drinks would be served. Members would be compelled to buy a plate of food at a uniform cost in Rand and at least three beverages of their choice. Extra plates of food and drinks would be available to buy for those who would want more or to take away.

This system worked perfectly well as one could receive the money and use it for business or whatever one wanted to do. Ladies had become hustlers who did whatever it took to survive. So, in a year one would receive the lump sum twice and do something big with it.

My sweet selling hustles on the side made it extremely easy for me to be in these money groups. During those days the Rand was a powerful currency in Zimbabwe, and one could do a lot with just ZAR1000!

When I decided to leave the country, it was not really because I was in need of money, but I had gotten so annoyed with the water cuts and load shedding. It had reached a point where we would only get electricity around 2300hrs and lose it around 0500am. It was so unbearable that I was slowly but surely losing my mind!

So, I decided to put my shoulder to the wheel and leave for “greener pastures.” My first stop was Botswana and it was quite an experience in the beginning!

When I left, I thought that I was now going to live my life! Boy, was I wrong!!!

The first school where I worked was a true career challenge. When I arrived there, I realized that the grass wasn’t always greener on the other side! I learned that the teachers were unhappy and not paid well or at the end of every month!

Coming from a place where every day was payday for me to where every month end one was not necessarily paid day was a tall order. It was not surprising that I missed my workplace back home. Fortunately, I had not resigned as it was school holiday time in Zimbabwe.

Basically, I was keeping two jobs. My new school in Botswana was almost getting to the end of term when I joined them so when it was holiday time I could return to Zimbabwe. On the last day of school, the teachers were paid a fraction of their salaries and I expected to receive my own portion. But, alas! I was only given a freaking BWP100!

I was like Whaaat!! So, I should go back to Zimbabwe and return next term on this? It got me thinking that back home I earned that much over two days with my side hustle! I felt very insulted and thought of not bothering to return the following term.

I traveled back to Zimbabwe and survived on my own money which had nothing to do with the job from where I was returning. Funnily, I found myself planning my return journey. I had to devise a plan to enable me to return without jeopardizing my job in Zimbabwe. I decided to seek indefinite sick leave.

This was just to protect me in case teachers returned to work while I was away. Teachers in Zimbabwe were, generally, on strike at that time, so nothing was happening in schools. My absence did not really make any difference as no students suffered because of it. Frankly speaking, I would not have been at work anyway had I been in Zimbabwe.

The “Indefinite sick leave” meant that I became cleared and could return to Botswana. This arrangement worked perfectly for me and enabled me to explore other avenues.  

That was when the real foreign country experience began!!!

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Africa, a Third-World Continent?

Why should Africans have to struggle to be fairly treated even on the African continent? Work environments of privately owned businesses do not favour the locals even when they have the right qualifications, experience, and ability to do the job!

I am speaking from experience which I have witnessed, through my own work experience and those of my friends and relatives in several private or foreign-owned schools or companies in different countries in Africa.

Where I am from should not determine what I earn

The Plight of Zimbos is the same no matter which country they are found in!

It is even worse when one is from Zimbabwe. The current economic situation of the country puts Zimbabweans in the diaspora at the mercy of employers. Some of these employers choose to exploit the poor Zimbos who have no choice but to take whatever is put on the table for them, no matter how much it does not equate to their experience and qualifications.

Workers of Zimbabwean origin are increasingly discriminated against because of where they are from, but when it comes to the amount of work, they are given to do in the schools, you can only pity them. Often, the same unfortunate discrimination also happens to other teachers of African origin from most parts of Africa. They are only treated fairly when employed in government institutions!

When in Rome Do as the Romans!

This old saying has been used all over the world and I think many should translate it to the African context. My translation would be: When in Africa appreciate Africans and treat them as first-class citizens!

I mean, it is just not right! People come to Africa to open their businesses on African soil, make money off the African land and treat Africans like non-entities of the world! Really??? How fair is it to underpay the people out of whose land you are getting your wealth?

Take mines, for example, most of them are owned and operated by non-Africans. They are excavating our land to the core to get whatever minerals they are mining. These minerals are then shipped out of Africa to enrich other countries while Africa remains a “third-world” continent. For how long shall we be referred to as “developing countries?” What is it going to take for Africa to become a rich continent?

African wealth not benefitting Africa

If one were to spend a week at the Beitbridge border post, they would be shocked at the number of haulage trucks that exit Zimbabwe on their way to the port in Durban. These trucks are ferrying different types of minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, and Zimbabwe to the port to be ferried abroad. More are using the other border into South Africa to transport minerals from Botswana. Whatever these mineral ores are turned into does not benefit Africa in any way! In fact, when we buy the end products, they will be so expensive that most Africans can hardly afford them! There is an error!

Mining in Africa is good Business!

It is obvious that mining is good business, in fact, it is one of the best! And for one to mine and continue doing it is evidence that the business is great. More proof is how those directly involved in the business lead their lives. In most mining towns, it is common to find the top brass of the mine living in the most luxurious houses, driving expensive cars, and sending their children to expensive private schools. There is what they call ‘Mine Clubs’ which are recreational facilities and restaurants available only to the mining elite. The ordinary man living in the same town would not be allowed to use these facilities. Is this not segregation of some sort? More so when the people who have access to these facilities are mainly white foreigners. During the colonial era there used to be places that were labeled as “Whites Only” or “No Blacks Allowed” Are these clubs not duplicating that same system we fought to remove from society? Why should there be places which can not be accessed by the locals, the owners of the land? This is another topic for another day!

When I look at all these luxuries attached to some of the mining elite, I conclude that mines are operating extremely well and those who enjoy the great pecks are those referred to as having ‘good jobs.’

#BlackLivesMatter

When the #BlackLivesMatter started, it spread like a ripple across the world. This is clear evidence that there is a problem involving black people all around the world. I am convinced that what made people all over the world run with this hashtag was not only because of what happened to George Floyd. It was a cry for help by the black communities for all the discrimination, the unfair treatment, and in some cases, the abuse black people have to endure, just for being black! There is this sense of “I am getting a raw deal because I am black” that one gets, more often than not.

Africa is also getting a raw deal! The African plains are excavated on a daily basis for their mineral wealth: gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt, nickel, etc. When these minerals are mined, they are taken out of Africa to benefit non-Africans. What do Africans have to show for their wealth of resources? Long-term illnesses for miners and people living around the mines? Is that all?

How Africa can Thrive

Should Africa not be paid back for her minerals? Yes, mining companies pay taxes to the government. But, hey, I also pay tax and I am not mining, and I am definitely not getting rich out of what I earn from my job!

If this was up to me, I would insist on every mine building a state-of-the-art school and a hospital in the province they are located for the local children who cannot afford private school education and medical care. The mine would fund these schools by providing all the learning and teaching materials required and ensure the hospitals have everything they need to provide proper health care. The funding of these schools and hospitals would happen for as long as the mine is operational.

I would ensure that any foreign-owned business plays its part in the development of the country. This would lessen the burden on the government. These are the conditions I would put down for any foreigners applying for business permits in the country. Do not just operate your business in a foreign country but commit to its development too.

Imagine how many of these institutions would be established in African countries. The poor Africans would be able to access education and health care from anywhere in their countries.

When such happens the development of Africa would surely be certain. And Africans will begin to be respected as they should!

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Fight Covid-19 Challenges from Within You

The Burning Question

The solution is inside of you!

My burning question remains the same: why do people think they can treat Africans anyhow and in Africa and continue to get away with it? When are we, Africans, going to speak out against this racial segregation that is getting more and more apparent? It has gone on for far too long and we need to speak out now and put a stop to it!

And now, with Covid-19 taking its toll on us, the same business owners have found another easy way out; a way to exploit the already exploited ordinary man in Africa. Under the pretext of failing businesses and ailing turnovers workers are being relinquished of their jobs or even getting salary cuts by anything between 5% and 50%.

The salary cuts are happening even when the workers are still performing their duties in full: working hours remain the same, duties to be performed may even increase! So, why the salary cuts?

Why the differences?

What makes it all dubious is the fact that in the same country or town you find, on the one hand, employers who ‘claim’ that they have been hit hard by the pandemic and are being forced to cut salaries and on the other hand, an employer who asks all workers who have underlying illnesses to work remotely (from home) without setting foot on the business premises and still receive full salaries and benefits. How does one explain these glaring differences?

When a country is going through the same challenges and conditions, one would expect uniformity where the effects of Covid-19 are concerned, especially in the same line of business. But, hey, what do I know?

Take Zambia, for example. The country never had any lockdowns and it has been business as usual. So, economically speaking, the country did not experience massive drawbacks. So, how do those employers who effected salary cuts while expecting workers to work the normal hours justify these severances?

Use what is inside you to survive

Despite all these unfavorable working conditions sprouting all around us, we need to find a way to rise above all the challenges. If our day jobs are not going to allow us to make ends meet, then we need to rise to the occasion. Complaining will not get us answers. However, trying to figure it out will bring us those important solutions.

I believe that every one of us was created with more than one talent: we have those hidden ones. So, in these trying times, we need to dig deep into ourselves to bring them to the surface for our survival.

This is not the time to be shy or to worry about what people will say. If it means we must do those “odd jobs” we believe to be beneath us, so be it. Become a domestic worker if you must, tend someone’s garden, do someone’s hair, or run errands for them.

It is all about doing what it takes to survive. Let us make it work, somehow!

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Trials and Tribulations of Covid-19 in Africa

My Thought and Experience with Covid-19

Part 1 By Meme Writes 2020

If, like me, you have had first-hand experience of the effects of Covid-19 and are forced to change your lifestyle, you’ll probably be counting down the days until you can live without its effects again!

I am going to share in parts how people have been affected differently by the outbreak of the disease. In part ,1 I will do a “fly past” over the general effects of Covid-19, and in part 2, I will zoom into Africa and look at how this disease has and still is negatively affecting the ordinary man. I will explore some business practices which have, for time immemorial, downplayed the importance of the ordinary African man. In part 3, I will look at Covid-19 may have negatively or positively affected some households on a personal level.

What is Covid-19?

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus Disease of 2019 which is commonly referred to SARS Covid-19 or simply Covid-19 is a pandemic that gripped the world in early 2020 and brought many countries to their knees. The fast-spreading disease was first detected in Wuhan, China, in November 2019 hence its name: Covid-19.

From endemic to pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) the monitor of the world’s health always steps in when there is a threat to the health of humans across the world. When the disease broke out in China it was declared an endemic but quickly became a pandemic. What is the difference? When a disease breaks out and affects a certain area or community and is contained within that community, it is endemic. However, when containment fails and it leaks into other countries and spreads to all corners of the world, it becomes a pandemic. According to the Longman Dictionary for Advanced Learners, “A Pandemic is a disease that affects almost everyone in a large area.

By April 2020 the rate of infection around the world was unbelievable.

The rate of infection for Covid-19 was unbelievable from the onset; it swept across the world in record time and the world witnessed country after country going into lockdown as governments were forced to put a stop all movement for weeks or even months depending on the severity and threat of the disease. The world was taking a hard knock from this disease.  Therefore, the lockdowns were meant to slow the spread of the disease by keeping people apart and “socially distanced.”

The New Normal!

The screening of travellers, quarantine periods, social distancing and masking up became the new normal across the world with the hope of cutting down the spread of the disease. These are currently the best survival tactics since no vaccine or cure has been found. Doctors and scientists have been working around the clock in search of a vaccine or a cure without any known breakthroughs.

So, when Covid-19 hit our streets, there was only one possible play: go into hiding! This, however, has had its own effects behind the scenes. The biggest one was that people would not be able to physically go to work and for many it was, thankfully, possible to work from home. This is something that is common in countries like France where they encourage what they term “Télé-travail” where one works from home on most days and only checks into work occasionally. All communication with the workplace would be done via emails or phone calls. This way of working is good for the environment as it reduces pollution and its effects because there would be fewer commuters on the road. It was, definitely, easier for countries that were already employing this way of working to mostly continue operating. Even their schools were able to continue digitally.

What does it mean for Africa?

Then we come to our beautiful Africa. Locally speaking, I must say the effects of Covid-19 were not as severe as they were in Europe, America and other parts of the world. The figures of infected people and those who died daily were shocking. When I was following the day-to-day statistics for the European countries and they were giving daily deaths figures of close to a thousand for one country, it was shocking! In about 30 days, countries like France and Italy recorded a total of close to 30,000 deaths each! They say the situation was aggravated by the cold weather as the virus seems to thrive in cold conditions. So, how did we get spared from such high losses in Africa?

In the early parts of the year, this was the situation in Africa.

Africa is generally a warm to the hot continent, but we did get Covid-19 cases in many African countries. South Africa topped with very high cases and infection rates. This could be also due to the fact that they conducted tests rigorously across the country. But then again, if one contracts Covid-19 they can still die even if a test was not done. So, in those countries were tests were not conducted on a large scale, we still did not have that many deaths; and in Africa if there is one thing you cannot hide, it’s death. When there is a funeral everyone knows about it. So, what is the reason for having not so high figures even when the disease is present in Africa?

Covid-19 cases remain low in Africa

Could it be due to our normal way of life and the food we eat which have rendered us stronger against Covid-19? You see, one of the safety measures against Covid-19 is the constant washing of hands and in Africa that is actually our way of life. We wash our hands to eat all the time and we eat many times! The fact that Africans mostly use their hands to eat forces them to wash them before they do, whereas non-Africans who use forks and knives to eat do not necessarily need to wash their hands to eat as they do not touch their food with their bare hands!

So, our African way of life which others would consider as a sign of poverty is what could really be protecting us from this pandemic. And ‘social distancing’ is already our way of life in Africa. Why? Because we do not hug and kiss each other for greeting or cuddle too much even among families as other cultures do! Our biggest weakness is the shaking of hands! We do shake hands a lot to greet, in fact too much! But then, we would have washed our hands a lot to eat and after eating, so that basically keeps our hands clean in most parts.

Do not get me wrong, people! I am not saying Covid-19 does not spread that way, remember, it is a respiratory disease that is transmitted through breathing in droplets let out when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks or by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your mouth eyes and nose before washing one’s hands. The disease cannot enter your body through the skin! Because you can introduce it into your system through touching a surface where it has been deposited and touching your mouth, nose, and eyes, it then means keeping a distance of at least a metre between people and masking up would minimize the risk of breathing in the contaminated droplets.

We went to bed to a normal world and woke up to a totally different one with a ‘new normal’ and all sorts of protocols. We moved from traveling freely and willingly to lockdowns, frequent hand washings, hand sanitizers and face masks! The world went into a frenzy and was brought to a practical stand still. Airplanes parked, city centres and markets were empty for weeks to months, schools stood deserted, and health facilities became the busiest.

This was all because of this pandemic which manifests itself with flu-like symptoms which culminate in respiratory infections.

The effects of Covid-19 on our lives?

What does Covid-19 mean for you and me? For our children, relatives, friends and acquaintances? Or even our employers or employees? This is where the trials and tribulations begin: each person has been directly or indirectly touched by this scourge, some as infected and many as affected.

I part 2 I will share personal experiences and those of others. Most of them are just due to unscrupulous business owners who are taking advantage of this problem to manipulate and exploit their workers and the digital divide that is evident where school children are concerned!  

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