“We need some groceries.” It is a statement from the home manager. It is an early afternoon of a Thursday in the fourth week of the night curfew.
Ordinarily, this type of discussion would be taking place early evening but with the curfew starting at seven we have had to readjust the home schedule.
“Maybe you can do a list,” I suggest.
Since the advent of the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, the government has instituted several measures to curtail the spread.
You are not allowed outside of your residential compound after seven in the evening and, in the absence of passenger public or private transport allowed on the roads, it is no longer the sort of usual household shopping trip.
You will have to shop within walking distances or get a home delivery service. With a non-existent formal home delivery infrastructure, walking becomes inevitable.
Today, like in a previous couple of days, I will be walking around the village looking for fresh supplies from local farmers.
The tropical sun, striding the partially overcast sky, is majestic in splendor. A calming breeze, along the shores of the lake on this neighborhood of Entebbe, blows from the freshwater Lake Victoria.
The beaten village paths, which feed onto the main Entebbe-Kampala highway, are scattered with people and cargo vans. Most people are walking in solitude, or in pairs. Young people seem to enjoy walking in companies of threes. The maximum crowd allowed is five.
The decongested paths are a welcome break from the mad congestion you would ordinarily encounter on market centres. The mannerisms are impeccable. No one, apart from the occasional absent-minded loner, is coughing or sneezing carelessly.
Handshakes have been shelved. People, unlike before when it was usual to find yourself edged out of the road by boisterous people exchanging hi-fives (or by drivers racing imported, inefficient, used engines along dusty neighborhoods) give way as if by magic.
You find, courtesy of government-led social distancing campaign, yourself walking in your own bubble.
The shopping list from the home manager determines my walking route.
Over the past weeks, the effects of people being bound in their homesteads are starting to show. Most roadside bushes next to households are giving way to fresh gardens. Roadside barbeques are giving way to fresh produce, vegetables, and fruits.
More are more people are allowing their sweat to trickle down their bodies freely while walking, jogging, and riding bicycles. Intimate friends are finding their peace as they walk huddled together, sometimes hand in hand, and shielding themselves from everyone else, as if to say, ‘we die together.’
People are, moreover, strutting better toned bodies.
Last night when the president was giving national COVID-19 updates, almost every homestead in the neighborhood was tuned in. The president, a former guerrilla fighter, congratulated his subjects.
“We are in a war and we are winning.”
The president, who also took the time to extend the curfew for a further twenty-one days, was referring to the fourth consecutive day without an additional positive case of COVID-19.
I have, after walking-shopping for a couple of hours, managed enough supplies for a couple of days.