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The Coronavirus effect: Love and death in the face of adversity : The Standard

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Francis Kamanga and Caroline Pere who have been forced to suspend their April 25 wedding in Kajiado over the coronavirus pandemic.
For the first time in generations, matters of the heart are being dictated by the cold, hard world of science. Love, death and everything in between is being decided by the phrase: self-isolation.

In a world battling to save itself from the coronavirus pandemic, humanity is relearning what love really is, the loneliness that death can truly bring and the fears that every mother has of bringing a child into a world full of uncertainties.
The dead are being sent off unceremoniously with no time to mourn or celebrate them. In one clean sweep, the dead have become anonymous, with no eulogies or elaborate ceremonies to mark their passing.
Those seeking to tie the knot and make their relationship intimate, officially, have to put their plans on hold. Neither a hug, let alone a kiss is safe anymore. There are no more baby showers and the sick are battling their bugs without expecting a visitor, a flower or a get-well-soon card.
SEE ALSO :China virus cases spike, 17 new infections reportedSense of urgency
When we trace Francis Kamanga to his abode in Kajiado, notes from Bobby McFerrin’s uplifting song, Don’t Worry Be Happy, float around his sitting room. They are from his phone and they communicate a sense of urgency. His love life is in turmoil, the melodies contradict the atmosphere in the compound.
As the phone rings, the owner is carefully anointing his hands with surgical spirit before he answers the phone. From snippets of Kamanga’s answers to the caller, it is evident the subject of the call is his impending wedding.
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He and his fiancee, Caroline Pere have spent some nail-biting days which seem never to end. And yet there appears to be no silver lining in sight.
“We are waiting for Sunday. By that time, I will communicate. Right now, we do not know whether to hold the wedding or not. Yes, I know but there is nothing we can do right now,” he tells the party on the other end of the line.
SEE ALSO :China confirms virus spreading between humansAnd with a sigh, Kamanga terminates the call, sanitises his hands and then focuses on the problem that has been gnawing on his mind for the last two weeks. 
“I wanted to give her the dream wedding. She deserves it and we had started planning our wedding quite early. But all our plans have been laid to waste by this coronavirus,” Kamanga explains.
Caroline too is devastated. It has been a long wait since her childhood friend Kamanga proposed to her on October 2 last year. Her smile is infectious when she recalls the day she agreed to marry her love.
“We had known each other for 15 years. We first met when we were “monos” during the holiday tuition in 2004 in Kajiado town. I was a First Former at Senior Chief Koinange then and Kamanga was at Kiambu High School. From then on, we would meet during school holidays in Kajiado.”
Even after secondary school, the two never lost touch and it was only natural that after clearing university education the lovebirds would be united as one in holy matrimony.
SEE ALSO :Factbox: What we know about the new coronavirus spreading in China and beyondAt first, they intended to hold their wedding on April 15 but when they approached Rev Micheal Njige, of the Presbyterian Church of East Africa, Kitengela parish, they learnt that another couple had already booked the date. That is how they settled on April 25.
“We were planning a modest wedding. We had in mind 700 guests but we knew that this number could increase. After all a wedding is a celebration for friends, relatives and the church,” Caroline said.
And to ensure that everything went according to plan, the couple had scheduled a pre-wedding party tomorrow at PCEA Kajiado. Another one was to be held on April 4 in Kitengela.
“When the government announced coronavirus cases in Kenya, I was disturbed. I realised there was no way the wedding could go on as planned unless things normalised,” Caroline said.
But even as she prays for a miracle, she is afraid that she either has to put the wedding plans on hold or have a mock one which will be attended by only five people.
SEE ALSO :Travelers to be screened for ‘Chinese’ coronavirus- Government”The church has said it cannot allow a gathering of more than five. That is the bride, groom the best couple and the presiding minister. The ceremony should not take more than 30 minutes,” Kamanga explained.
Although he had already bought the wedding rings and made a down payment for the grounds and some of the services like photography, he counts himself lucky because his love can wait.
He has heard of hair-raising tales where a couple which had spent close Sh500,000 in procuring services like outside catering, photography, seats and bridal gowns and transport ended up having a 30-minute ceremony.
“There were no flower girls. Only ten people attended the wedding. The couple was joined by parents from both sides. After the ceremony, they just went home as they could not go for a honeymoon,” Kamanga said.
He said rather than hold a sham wedding, he would wait and see whether by the end of the 30 day-ban announced by the church, things will have normalised. That is why the wedding committees were still holding virtual meetings, just in case the situation improves.
“I am still hopeful that the wedding can go on but looking at how long China took before lifting the lockdown, chances of postponing the wedding are still very high,” he added.
But even as Kamanga and Caroline hold their collective breath, praying for their big day, those who have lost their loved ones during this period have undergone untold suffering.
There is no perfect time to die. But for those currently in mourning it is not just the waiting that eats them up. It is more than that. It is the solitude. It is not having as many shoulders to lean on as would have been. It is the sitting around and answering calls from well-wishers who would ordinarily condole with them in person.
On Friday, when Peter Munyasia, a Ford Kenya supporter was buried in Saboti, there were no political speeches. His friends too were missing while some brave villagers peered at his low key send off from a distance. Only his immediate relatives were at the graveside in one of the shortest burial ceremonies ever held in the area.
Hundreds of kilometers away, in Murang’a, when Michael Gathekia lost his brother, Athony Ngewa (39), he expected that he could lean on the clan’s shoulder for assistance in order to give his sibling a decent send off.
This was not to be. Only 15 relatives would be allowed at the burial ceremony. There were no meetings to plan Ngewa’s burial or to remind each other in hushed tones of the times they spent together. There were no photographers to immortalise the sombre ceremony.
“The chief had told us not to exceed this number. We had to turn away some cousins. This was the weirdest burial I have ever attended,” Mr Gathekia said.
Another family in Gikambura, Kiambu County too will live to remember the coronavirus pandemic after they were ordered to inter a relative who had died two days earlier in a record 30 minutes. Like Gathekia’s family, in the second burial, only 15 relatives were allowed to participate in the final rites.
The predicament of families who have lost their relatives is best captured by death notices which are being published in the newspapers in the wake of the pandemic.
While announcing the death of Perminus Ngugi Mburu, the family told their friends: “Burial preparations are taking place at his home in Nyororo, Lanet farm, Nakuru. Due to Covid-19 outbreak, the government directives for burial service is limited to only 15 immediate family members.”
The same fate befell friends of Christine Angila Omulando, a long-serving journalist who died in a road accident in Nairobi. Most of her friends could not attend the burial on March 25 at Soi farm in Likuyani. They were strictly observing the government’s directive concerning public gathering.
Another family, still in Kiambu has however taken advantage of coronavirus to outwit another branch they had been feuding with over the ownership of a piece of land. When one of the family members succumbed to an illness, his immediate relatives removed his body very early on a Wednesday and interred him next to his grandfather  on a disputed piece of land.
By the time the other branch of the family realised what was happening, the burial had already taken place in Kabuku and all they could do was complain and demand that the body be exhumed.
Life under the shadow of the pandemic is teaching humanity what really matters. That it is not the wealth. Neither is it the title deeds nor the high walls that build around us. It is the little moments of intimacy that define us.
The simple acts of holding a lover’s hand down the aisle as overzealous aunts ululate. Or of drying a friend’s tears after the loss of a loved one. Or just cooing at a new born’s face, trying to figure out whether the ears on them come from the father’s or mother’s side.

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Kenyan international midfielders Nondi, Omolo shine for their clubs abroad – Nairobi News

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Two Kenyan internationals, Amos Nondi and Johanna Omolo were in action on Saturday 11th July in Europe.

Nondi, formerly of Gor Mahia played the entire match as FC Dila Gori thrashed Merani Tbilisi 4-0 in a topflight match played at the Tengiz Burjanadze Stadium in Gori, Georgia on Saturday evening.

After a goalless first half, Ukrainian forward Mykola Kovtalyuk grabbed a brace with a goal each from Nika Gagnidze and Irakli Lekvtadze sealing the win for Dila Gori.

After the win, Dila are on top of the log with 11 points having played 5 matches.

Up next for them is a game against second-placed Dinamo Tbilisi on Sunday 19th July.

Nondi moved to Dila Gori in 2018 after a season at FC Kolkheti Poti, a team he joined from reigning Kenyan champions Gor Mahia.

In Belgium, highly-rated Kenyan midfielder Johanna Omolo came in the second half and wore the captain’s armband as Cercle Brugge beat Kortrijk by a solitary goal in a friendly match played at the Guldensporen Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The solitary goal was scored by Congolese striker Guy Mbenza.

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Canada-funded poll projects virus caseload awareness in Nairobi’s slums at 40pc » Capital News

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 12 – A new survey by TIFA research firm has revealed that at least 55 per cent of Nairobi’s informal settlements residents are not aware of the country’s COVID-19 caseload, while five per cent mentioned incorrect figures.

The poll co-sponsored by the Canadian High Commission and Hanns Seidel Foundation indicates only 13 per cent of the city residents are aware of the rate of infection, including numbers of fatalities.

According to the survey carried out between June 2 and 15, more men are aware of the figures at 16 per cent, compared to women at 10 per cent.

The awareness was lower among respondents with no formal education.

Interestingly, Ministry of Health statistics indicate men account for the lion’s share of the 9,726 COVID-19 cases reported since March, compared women in what has been attributed to personal behavior.

“The main point is that unless the vast majority of people do what is required/advised at least until there is a vaccination that would allow everyone to resume ‘normal life’, the virus will be continue in our midst, causing even more damage to both the health of individuals and the economy,” the Maggie Ireri-led research firm pointed out.

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As far as awareness of COVID-19 symptoms is concerned, 80 per cent of city residents are aware of coughing at 84 per cenr, followed by fever at 69 per cent, while the awareness on breathing complications was listed third place with 40 per cent mentions.

Some 579 respondents were interviewed across the city’s informal settlements.

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“And even together with a robust program of public health education, the harsh economic realities affecting the greater majority of the sort of people captured in these successive TIFA surveys will make adherence to such regulations and advise increasingly challenging,” the research firm said.

The survey further shows the numbers of people fearing to contract COVID-19 in Nairobi has significantly dropped between April and June.

The uncertainty level dropped from 54 per cent in April to 50 per cent in mid-June.

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COVID-19 anxiety in Nairobi’s informal settlements falls to 54pc: poll » Capital News

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 12 – A survey co-sponsored by the Canadian High Commission and the Hanns Seidel Foundation (Kenya) has reported a declined on anxiety related to COVID-19 within Nairobi’s informal settlement to 54 percent down from 71 per cent reported in April.

During round one of a similar survey conducted by the Trends and Insights for Africa (TIFA), 71 per cent of the 579 respondents said they were very worried, 13 per cent were somewhat worried, 6 per cent were a little worried while 10 percent were not worried at all.

In the second round survey conducted between June 2 and 15, the percentage of respondents expressing anxiety fell to 54 per cent while 14 per cent of respondents said they were somewhat worried. Another 10 per cent said they were a little worried while 21 per cent said they were not worried at all.

“Respondents are clearly less concerned about the medical risks stemming from the Covid-19 virus than they were at the end of April when Round One was conducted,” TIFA noted.

According to the recent survey, women and younger people were the most anxious group representing 62 per cent and  57 per cent respectively.

“More than half of all respondents are “very worried” about contracting the Covid-19 virus. Women and younger respondents are more anxious about this,” the pollster noted.

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The TIFA survey further noted that 26 per cent of men said they were not worried at all compared to the 16 per cent reported among female respondents.

Of the respondents who cited as being very worried, 80 per cent reported wearing masks, 76 per cent said they frequently washed hands, 52 per cent avoided handshakes, 48 per cent used sanitizers while 20 per cent said they stayed at home as much as they could.

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“Slightly more of those “very worried” about contracting it report wearing masks,  frequently washing their hands, and avoiding shaking hands,” the pollster added.

The survey was conducted in Nairobi’s low income areas of Huruma, Kibera, Mathare,
Korogocho, Mukuru kwa Njenga and Kawangware. The sample population was distributed among 306 males and 273 females.

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