ARTIST: ROWLAND WATIFADZA CHITSUNGE
COUNTRY: ZIMBABWE
MATERIALS USED: PENCIL

14 January 2020. That was the first time I came across a Corona that was not a beer. I thought to myself,” Now why didn’t they call it Castle or Budweiser”. Not even the fact that all international newscasters wouldn’t stop bickering about the so-called Covid-19 didn’t move me. It was all a pathetic joke to me or at the very least some petty international conspiracy to bring China’s growing influence to a halt. Whatever the virus was, or who it was killing seemed to be none of my black skin’s business. I felt more secure in the theories that the Coronavirus was a plague sent to the yellow and white people who had for so long plagued black people. Good riddance.

27 March of the same year. It is now a week or so since the President announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown and my loud voice on social media is blabbering nonsense about peer pressure and copycats. My mother has since stopped going to work and I can see the weariness on my father’s face (the weariness of a man used to working). It is then I start dismissing the idea that the Coronavirus is a yellow man’s plague. Both of my parents are civil servants and while their salaries may be seen as an abuse of basic human rights, here in Zimbabwe we are not a poor family.

Twenty-one days turn into three weeks and as the cases of the virus start to appear on the continent, worry starts to creep in. But inasmuch as Covid-19 is a threat to our livelihood, it is not as big a threat as Hunger.

But we have to survive by any means necessary and when one door closes, another one opens. My mother’s old sewing machine the ‘Old Lady’ becomes our salvation. It was the moment I had to put my pencil down. The same mask that is being distributed for free in North America and Europe, here we make them and sell them to get the income we need for food and survival. Of course, there are no surgical masks being given out in 1st world countries, but there are at least measures to prevent unhygienic tendencies. After all the threat to Africa is not Corona, but the hinge that comes with it.