The period between Christmas and New Year is like a dark era in history that even world- renowned historians and archaeologists have failed to explain.
It is a week where things move in slow motion and everyone walks around looking dazed like they have just survived a massive earthquake and more aftershocks are on the way.
The situation is more severe for most of the married men who find themselves alone in this city during this dark period.
It always starts with a polite sojourn to the village over the Christmas holiday with the entire family to celebrate with the rural folks.
This is also an excuse to reduce the world population of goats as they into stew and roast cuts that with large bowls of pounded food and escorted with copious amounts of adult beverages.
Urban-based men who have not been to the village for the preceding twelve months also take the opportunity to quarrel their brothers who have squeezed the land boundary one inch at a time and are now threatening to declare a total occupation of their ancestral land.
Like most men are wont to do, you only pack a soccer jersey and an extra pair of jeans or side pocket pants for the 4-day stay in the village. Meanwhile your wife and kids pack two huge suitcases each plus other undeclared luggage that checked into the carriage compartment of your tiny car. Inside that luggage you are likely to find the juice blender, hair , the kids bicycles and assorted toys.
You ignore this mass movement as one of those things, and you all head off to the village for what you think will be a brief stay.
Finally it is December 27 in the afternoon and the festivities are over. You have split the goats head to savour the delicacy of the goats grey matter inside and downed several cups of hooves soup.
It is going to 6pm and no one is in a hurry to move, therefore you send Junior to go and ask Mum what time they shall be ready to leave. She comes around with thestill tied around her waist and declares that they are not returning to the City until mid-January.
“Why did you not tell me this before?” you retort as you throw your few clothes into the car boot and zoom off to Nairobi alone. As you take the solemn journey into what seems an unknown and untested territory, you begin to understand why everyone else packed large suitcases except yourself.
It is when you arrive into the empty house that you discover that you have no idea where to find basic necessities like food and toiletries in the house, and you suddenly realise that slow death by starvation is imminent.
You head to Man Njoro’s, a popular eatery in the neighbourhood which you have not visited for the last few months since you defaulted on a quarter you consumed when the month was at the red corner.
You count about twenty other men in various states of loneliness and starvation and you find solitude in this familiar company.
is upbeat. God has a unique way of providing him with willing customers at the most unlikely time of the year when the town is all deserted.
Several portions quarter meat boil in tens of small soot blackened from each of which occasionally dips his paws to grab several fatty morsels into his mouth taste for salt.
As the customers on the customary half-hour wait for the meat to cook that always ends up translating into two hours, the men get acquainted with each other.
As they get to open up on their personal experiences and the reasons why they are where they are, they finally crack the mystery. This act of being left alone in the City is a deliberate effort by wives to test their husbands. It is also meant to test their overall resistance to starvation from food and other basic needs. It is a mock shooting of the Survivor Series that the wives do with their husbands as the main actors just for the fun of it.
This is soon proven true. As a round of adult beverages in order to allow two more hours of lying that the meat is almost ready, the dreaded calls from Mama start coming in.
You can easily tell that these are marriage life-threatening calls going by the looks on a man’s face as he composes himself to pick the call.
As each of those calls arrive, we motion to to lower the music volume and we all go quiet and watch with brotherly silence and love as the next victim is slaughtered.
knows the drill too, and he admonishes the noisy Alcoholic Beverages Service Assistants to lower their voices because some customers are receiving important business calls. He knows too well that if those shrieking voices are heard by Mama on the other end then his customers will be in deep trouble.
“Hey Babes, I was just checking on you. Junior has refused to eat supper and it is raining here. I am missing you. Have you eaten? Can you please check if I left my black in the bathroom? What are you watching on the television? What is that noise in the background? Is that kitchen tap still leaking?”.
We exchange meaningful glances as Kelvin lies that he is at home and he has just cooked ugali with tomatoes and onions.
He also asserts that the black is intact in the bathroom and no water and electricity and thus no television and no leaking taps.
Dennis is looking shaky and we fear he is going to mess up when his phone rings, so we him to put his phone on loud-speaker and we help him with answers.
He is being instructed by his Mama Watoto to return an iron box that she had borrowed from the neighbours. I quickly motion to him to say he is already in bed and he shall return it the following day. We all heave a sigh of relief as he is given a virtual kiss and told to sleep well. He orders another bottle of our favourite beverage to thank us for saving him from inevitable misery of everlasting consequence.
is in company of a female friend and he has already consumed more than his normal share of beverages so we know he cannot answer the questions convincingly. Our panel of experts advised him to put off his phone, he can explain that the phone’s battery had died when he is in a better state.
As we leave place well past 2am, we give each other encouraging bear hugs and promise to link up the following day.
I tip toe to 8th Floor just when the roosters are crowing themselves hoarse. I know that if my nosy neighbour sees me checking in at this ungodly hour, she will broadcast as breaking news that I am a hotbed of drunkenness and destroying my home when my family wife is away. I have no intention of answering hard questions in January.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.