Today marks Africa Day, our collective annual holiday to celebrate the African continent and all it’s nations. But in our current situation, one which the whole world shares, it seems most of us aren’t really feeling celebratory towards our nations, and that makes complete sense. So it brings up a question that I felt I had to ask today, what does Africa Day or being African even mean during this pandemic?
Well, in short, probably the same thing it always has. We’re all part of a vibrant, incredibly diverse continent brimming with potential and (in my own belief) key to shaping the future of the whole world. We’re all African, all essentially one common people even if our nations and tribes may differ. Yet if anything, COVID-19 has made us all be divided down to a communal level. Countries have had foreign workers without adequate documentation shipped back home, put their own citizens into necessary , but strenuous lockdown measures and have essentially left us all feeling more divided than ever. It’s hard to feel connected to the rest of Africa when you likely don’t feel connected to a family member or friend across town. So it makes sense why not many of us are feeling too cheery or celebratory right now. What’s worse is multiple African countries (including our own) have multiple other issues going on either caused or enhanced by the pandemic as well, many of which have to do with African leadership and how it’s handling this crisis. It’s a trying time for everyone, and with our continent’s history of struggle, now might not be the time you feel any form of optimism or love for Africa. A lot of us are in that same boat, but it doesn’t mean we have to stay in it. There’s still a lot to look forward to as a continent and believing that is perhaps the best hope we have as a people.
In fact, holding on to the hope of a brighter future should serve as a motivator for almost everything we do in this period, including helping each other out. Even in our small communities we should try make sure everyone is okay , that they’re managing considering the crunch this has put on everyone and helping them as best as we can. As much as COVID-19 is a virus that’s sponsored isolation, the best way to beat it is still together. Even large corporations seem to know this. Companies in both the east and the west are pulling together resources, funds and assets to try and support relief efforts, donate what they can to those in need or allowing their facilities to be testing centres such as in the US. Apple and Google have introduced their contact tracing system which should help flatten the curve of the spread of the virus and even here telecoms providers Econet, Telecel and NetOne have all contributed to some version of a testing , donation or relief platform to help with efforts to help stop the virus’ spread. That’s what our country should remember in these times and that’s what Africa should be. In this time where everyone is demoralized, we should all remind each other of the good being done and do good where we can. Not everyone can donate to a relief charity, but we can all at least call a friend or family member, especially those living alone in such times. The last thing anyone should feel in this time is as if they’re alone, and that’s why we all need to lift each other up, as Zimbabweans, and as Africans.
So again, what does Africa Day mean in 2020? Well, it means that in a time like this Africans need to stay together, because that’s the best way, maybe the only way we all make it to the other side of this. And that after this, we all have a big part to play in the future of this planet, and shouldn’t let anyone tell us otherwise. Let’s remember that, and finish off the rest of this pandemic, the rest of this year, aiming to make our continent and our futures better.