THE lockdown issue has been done wrongly, especially to us in the ghettos. It has been set up in a way that negatively affects our wellness, wellbeing and livelihood.
By Vincent Mapiye, Our Reader
This is so because the people who designed this lockdown system have neither been to our communities, ignored our way of life for reasons best known to them nor did they consider us to be on the same level as other citizens. It was done in a one-size-fits-all approach.
In the ghettos, we have communal toilets. If not communal, they are outside our houses in the back corner (in some areas).
Mostly, we only have around 200-square metres (this includes the house and playground for kids in the garden).
Our houses are less than two metres from the service roads. We share food as a community, we swap bedrooms for different gender (one house will take in boys the other house will take in girls). We spend most of our time on the roads, our parents will be exchanging meals, while young boys and girls will also be playing different games on the roads.
Mind you that’s their only playground. Middle-aged boys and girls will be walking from one house to the other helping elders with different chores. We are always on the move as well going to the communal bathrooms and water sources (boreholes or asking for water from neighbours with wells).
Having mentioned all these critical things that keep us on the move and in huge numbers on the roads, my biggest question is: Why did the government not consult us first or simply do a research to ascertain what would work for us and what would not?
It seems as though they just heard of the word lockdown and decided to impose it on us, thus, they locked us down.
Our way of life is very different to that of our brothers and sisters on the other side of town in the affluent suburbs.
Their houses are on land measuring a minimum 1 000 square metres, their houses have rooms (pantries) to lock up food for over one year, their children have huge playgrounds, they have bars, movie houses, several lounges and gyms all inside their houses.
On the outside, they even have swimming pools, spacious gazebos, entertainment areas and surplus of land to do exercises on. Obviously, for the above people, lockdown is possible. Their land is huge, they can plant their vegetables and even rear their own livestock.
In ghettos, they should have made sure that all our basics are easily accessible within our vicinity.
Our market places are constantly supplied with perishables every other day. Allowing delivery vehicles and other essential services to freely enter our communities coupled with also carrying out basic temperature checks on people who come to our communities could have been of great help.
Only then should they have locked us down within our daily routines: children playing on the roads, mothers hustling for food and other basics for their families while taking turns to supply girls with sanitary wear.
You definitely can’t lock up a girl in one house when she has to collect her sanitary packages, with teenagers walking up and down the roads cleaning and doing other duties for the community elders.
We deeply understand the impact of this virus, but most people look at us carrying on with our day and overnight routines and say to themselves: “They are reckless, they don’t care and they are ignorant.”
That’s not the case, if you look at most senior men whom we stay with, they have all stopped going to their drinking spots and even stopped going to church.
Similarly, the elderly women have stopped going for their burial club meetings, grocery club meetings, thus, drastically reducing the high numbers of people at funerals.
Most of the senior members in our society have even informed by their relatives to stop visiting them until solutions are found for this virus. All the aforementioned initiatives came up as our own way of mitigating the virus.
In the streets, for one person to survive in our community, we need each other daily. Please note we need each other physically and not virtually over some social media platforms.
All we ask for is for the authorities to let us be ourselves in our communities without going out to either central business district or other residential areas.
Our survival routines are done at different times and we give each other turns, hence, you always see us on our streets 24/7. We are our own security, our own tutors and we consult each other on a wide range of issues.
There are things that might affect us as communities if we are not locked down properly, namely cholera/typhoid because we will end up failing to access water from clean sources since our local government has failed to deliver clean, safe water to our houses for a very long time.
So as to combat starvation, we as ghetto families share the little that we have. That’s the reason why you see a lot of vulnerable people, even though they cannot access food aid from either government or non-governmental organisations in towns, there are still very few cases of malnutrition and starvation.
It’s only recently when the government availed food subsidies in the urban areas, otherwise all these years, we relied upon ourselves. The food availed is not even enough, without mentioning political games behind this food distribution and other challenges that we face to access it.
Food distribution has always been common in rural areas not in the urban areas.
Lately, because of the lockdown, most teenagers will start abusing drugs, alcohol and under-age pregnancies will increase since elders are not on the lookout.