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The Lower Class

In the midst of COVID 19, are people observing the lockdown protocols? What if this has implications for them, for their nations and for all of us as a nation? What more can be done to make things better than what we see now?

If you watch recent videos in Ghana concerning COVID-19: from distribution of food, demonstrations, rituals by some chief priests, beach parties, people fetching water from a borehole and how people use public transport, among other things, it seems this social distancing rule is not working. The “normal” behaviour of the lower class is sending chills up the spines of the upper and middle class. The upper and middle class, who make up the minority are calling for total lockdown and strict measures to enforce the lockdown. The lower class may be likened to the four leprous men in Second Kings 7:3-20. If they step out, they (will contract the virus and) die. If they stay at home, hunger will kill them… whichever way, they will die anyway, so they choose the death that seems easier; step out. If they stay at home, their children will keep crying for food and they cannot stand it, so staying at home is not even an option. Food is fundamental, death is inevitable. When they realise they cannot escape death, they choose a much easier way to die, especially when children are involved. They are prepared to die trying than do nothing about the situation at all.

 

The important lesson we can learn from this is that, next time, when you are climbing up the ladder, pull that poor guy along… else he will keep you locked down till you also force yourself out and that is when you are likely to get infected by the virus. You may be careful, but you can never be very careful. As you protect yourself and the family, did it ever occur to you to extend a helping hand to those who live around you? Let us say, your house is not gated and a hawker who is COVID 19 positive but still active because symptoms are not showing yet comes to your house, presses the doorbell, you open the door and tell her you’re not buying whatever she is selling and she leaves. You step out of the house and your children who are alone at home decide to go and play with the doorbell… May sound disgusting but these are some of the ways through which we may get affected.

The middle and upper classes did enough shopping to stay at home for two weeks or more so that they can observe the lockdown and social distancing protocols, you did not even think about that poor neighbour of yours, a bag of rice, maybe would have been enough to keep her off the streets for a while. Then you watch the news and see that your neighbour has flouted all the rules and the spread is increasing day by day. You forgot the guy next door has no food and will have to survive.

The lower class, from our neglect have died many times before COVID-19. Those young women have been sleeping at the bus station at Kejetia (that is their home too) for years and you think they are afraid of a virus. They cross the high way when a vehicle moving at 120 km/h is 100 metres away from them, they chase moving vehicles in traffic, if they can take all these risks and some more, what is a virus (which they cannot see) to them? They sit on buckets from Accra to my hometown Wa (for about twelve to fourteen hours or more) in an over-loaded Kia truck and you think they are afraid of a virus.

 

A lot of people in middle and upper classes cannot even travel from Kumasi to Accra via buses from VIP or STC, even sitting in a plane for 30 to 40 minutes is stressful for them, and you think lower class people who hustle daily and live from hand to mouth can observe stay home and social DISTANCING protocols? The irony of the matter is the virus was brought into the country by the middle and upper class, a significant majority of the lower class do not even have a passport, they have never been to the airport, but we all are pointing fingers at them today because we feel they are spreading the virus. It is worrying to hear accounts of people using their private vehicles to transport others in and out of locked down areas. Will we still blame the lower class that rely mainly on trotro to move from one place to another? Absolutely not, the middle and upper classes own and use private vehicles more.

A lot of education has been carried out already to sensitise people on the virus, especially on how to stay safe. Government, some NGOs and individuals have also carried out donations to people as their contribution to help them stay at home. I do not have evidence to say that politics is at play here, but maybe the wrong people are receiving the donations and items. A lot of people who really need these donations do not even have smart phones, but videos of people complaining about the food government is distributing are circulating on social media and it is sad that we do not even appreciate the efforts that people are making to support us in these hard times. We did not have a lot of social policies to support people in lower class, majority of them lack basic needs; food and shelter especially, yet we sit unconcerned.

Now, we are trying everything to manage what is extremely difficult in a country like Ghana. Imagine what is happening in Nima now, how you manage such a communicable disease in Nima where houses are almost sitting on each other and you have to pass through a neighbour’s house to get into yours. You may say, well it is happening in Nima, you are living at East Legon so it’s no big deal, and besides you don’t buy from a hawker, but then the hawker touches money and gives it to someone as change, the person goes to shop at the mall and uses the money to pay the cashiers. You go to the mall to shop too and that same money that was handled by the hawker is given to you as change, you put it in your wallet, put the wallet in your pockets and go home. At home, you wash your hands and your children have already carried the grocery bags, you forget you touched them after touching money, then they start eating the ice-cream that you bought for them…there and then, the virus goes into their mouth. You and I know how it will end; in tears definitely. Meanwhile you have been staying at home and observing social distancing protocols.

 

We need to advocate for social systems and implement more pro-poor policies as soon as possible. Individuals should try and assist their neighbors more, some people have neighbors who need assistance but they bypass them to go and do donations at places where the media will feature and put them in the limelight. You don’t have to be in government to do this, you don’t have to be very rich to do this, you don’t need to have more than necessary to reach out to others. You could even share the meal you cooked for your family with those around you, if you cannot feed all of them, you can tell them to give it to their children. You can also make sure to verify information before you share so as not to cause fear and panic. Do not look too far away to contribute the little you have to help the fight against COVID-19. Stay at home if you can, wash your hands with soap under running water and observe all the other protocols.

This blog is dedicated to Ing George Ashiagbor, aka Nene, a lecturer at the department of Natural Resources, KNUST. He inspired and assisted me to put this piece together. Nene said “There is  saying that when the rich refuse to share their riches with the poor, the poor will share their poverty with the rich”.CHEERS!

 

Photo Credit: The pictures (except that of Nene) in this post are from Eric Anadem (spenceranadem.wordpress.com)

 

 

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51 Comments

  1. Deep thoughts displayed here with pragmatic measures to curb the social gap.

    I must also say government did not tailor our social interventions to suit the populace.
    The president delivering occasional English centered address on the issue without measures to get the information to every Ghanaian in their localities in a familiar language is also one big issue.
    How we are distributing food to the supposed need is also disturbing.

    Above all thumbs up for addressing current social in your own small way to make our nation great.

  2. Nice write up….I was contemplating on this same issue since the pandemic….donations are rather going to those who already have….politicians are also on the move doing politics as usual by branding the items they are donating with their pictures and political colours. It is sad…..

    Well you said it….more education is needed. We must support each other if we are going to win this war

  3. Good writeup dear. Thanks to Nene for the support.
    Truely the social distancing cannot be observed 100% in Ghana. Curiosity will kill the cat, some Ghanaian cannot just observe that stay at home thing due to several reasons best known to them.
    Till always confused about this statement, we eat to live or we live to eat? How will this statement be applied to the poor, where there is no money to buy food to eat to live in this difficult times. Yes indeed the gap between the rich and the poor is wide, will really take centuries to close that gap.

  4. Interesting and great thoughts expressed there. I always life is not just about you being careful or okay but ensuring that your neighbour is too. Life hasn’t been easy for most low income earners during this period. The mood and manner in which food is shared is also scary. And the super annoying thing to deal with this evening, is playing of figures of recorded cases. This whole situation is getting scary and people are not seeing.

  5. Thanks for the enlightenment .The whole situation is very pathetic.Its like we are joking as a nation. We sat down unconcerned as a nation with our borders open when we saw this pandemic killing people elsewhere .Today we have been affected by the reckless behaviour of our leaders allowing foreigners and our so called well-l to -do citizens to infect us with covid19 and we are now pointing pointing fingers at the Lowers class? Its a very big shàme

  6. Facts established! Our system won’t allow us to observe the lockdown 100%. Our people don’t have a deeper sense of the virus yet and even if they have, they would still come out because they want to work and survive. We will get there.

  7. Sugar you’ve said it all here, this pandemic is more than serious but some Ghanaians can only care less. Everyday I watch euronews and get depressed, the deaths ..in my head I’m like what will happen if this thing should hit Ghana hard like other countries.God safe us all

  8. I love the look of your page . 💋💋😘. Great but social distancing is not part of our culture but we need to learn to stay alive in this time .. Good work my love

  9. A very nice writeup. Very precised and right on the issues that needs attention.
    It is high time Ghanaian politicians puts politics aside and handle issues of national welfare with nuturality.
    Hmmmm, God is our sole helper.

  10. Good write up Sugar!! Coronavirus I think is simply sending a message across the world that, we are connected no matter how different we think we are!! Let’s look out for one another, the only way out!

  11. I pray after this Covid19 pandemic we shall all learn to live our life together as family. We seriously need to restructure our country for our own good more especially with the data of the people.

    Many people will also learn to save money no matter what they earn.
    Thanks for your write up sugar.
    @Ernest Appiah

  12. This is truly a beautiful writing about a rather ugly situation. Believe it or not it is exposing the underlying factors that allow discrimination, inequality and classism to thrive the world over. Systems of hitherto robust and advanced economies have been proven to be nothing short of inadequate.
    I love the linkage you draw between the social classes, their response to Covid19 and their inter relationship. Many including myself don’t ask the question about how we got here to begin with, but what is clear is that we are in this together and can only win this fight by working together for once, whether the privileged like it or not.
    Great work once again. It was a truly humbling piece to read.

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