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Friday, March 27th, 2020


Vet on call: Dealing with leg joint inflammation in calves

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Julius is a dairy farmer in Nairobi. His 10 cows of mixed breeds complement his earnings from other businesses.

When he called me to treat his heifer calf two weeks ago, he was emphatic that the calf should be saved at all costs. In it he saw a valuable cow as productive as the mother.

Though his cows are not high producers, the big milk demand in his operation area ensures him good earnings.

He told me the calf had started limping a month earlier and he thought it was a slight injury that would heal on its own.

However, within a week, the calf preferred to sleep most of the time and stopped feeding well.

Both carpal joints began swelling and became painful and hot. He even noticed the calf would turn and face the wall to hide the joint when someone approached. I explained animals have memories of unpleasant events and try to avoid a repeat of the same.


Julius further told me his regular service provider had attended to the calf but the problem had persisted after a week of treatment. He had decided to request for my assistance when one of the joints got a swelling that burst and produced pus.

As I got into the pen to examine the calf, it turned and faced the wall. The animal had heavy breathing and a sad face.

The temperature was elevated and heart rate was fast. This calf was definitely in pain and the joints were probably spewing bacterial and tissue decomposition toxins into its whole system.

I bend to examine the joint and the poor calf started complaining loudly even before I touched it. At that point, I explained to Julius that I had to administer a pain killer and sedative before even touching the joints. They were too painful for the calf to bear with physical examination of the joints.

After the two medications I gave by injection, the calf relaxed and became drowsy. I further injected a pain killer called local anaesthetic above the heavily swollen right carpal joint to block nerve sensation in the joint.


The calf was relieved of all pain below the point of injection. From knowledge and experience, I knew the heifer, at that point, did not even register the existence of the portion of the leg below the injection.

As the drugs were taking effect, I called the service provider because he had not left any clinical notes on the case. He explained the treatment he had given and told me he had been called to treat the animal when the case was already advanced.

The discussion helped me to decide on the antibiotics I would use. I chose a combination of four antibiotics. Two I gave into the vein as a mixture and the other two into the muscles.

It is always good to give an antibiotic before physical examination of the joint to avoid promoting entry of bacteria from the infection site into the blood stream.

I palpated the right joint all round and found that it contained fluid but some areas were very had. The joint was also crooked and stiff. It could not straighten. The left joint was slightly swollen but not painful.

The sedative and pain killer injected had blocked the pain and I did not need to inject the local anaesthetic above the joint like I had done with the right one.

On further examination, I found the calf had friction and cut injuries on both the front and hind legs. I determined they resulted from the legs being trapped in a gap between the stone wall of the pen and the floor board.

I checked the navel and found it was normal. I then shaved a fluctuant point on the joint and cleaned with 70 per cent alcohol, known as surgical spirit.

Using a gauge 18 needle and 2ml syringe, I drew out fluid from the joint. It was thick yellow pus looking like spoilt milk.

“Your calf has a disease called joint ill,” I told Julius who was wondering why I was doing so many manoeuvres and treatments on his calf.

He told me though I had explained to him my diagnostic process, he had not anticipated it to be so long. He was, however, happy that I had explained to him the problem and its cause.


I then shared the treatment process. It would involve surgically draining the pus in the right joint and prolonged multidrug antibiotic and anti-inflammatory injections.

It would later include physical joint manipulation, medically called physiotherapy, to help return the leg to proper shape and function. The left joint had inflammation but no pus.

I cautioned Julius the treatment would be prolonged, expensive and may or may not result in full recovery. I had, however, treated worse cases to full recovery. He affirmed to me the calf was very valuable to him and he preferred I do the treatment as necessary.

I drained the pus by making a surgical incision into the joint. I expressed lots of both liquid and cheesy pus, then cleaned thoroughly with hydrogen peroxide and iodine.

I asked Julius to apply tetracycline antibiotic spray on the wound twice per day for 5 to 10 days. He would also lay a heavy wood shaving layer on the pen floor to cushion the calf’s joints from injury. The animal is recovering well but will take up to six weeks to fully heal.

Joint ill is a common infection of the joints in calves, kids and lambs especially where the newborn fails to take enough colostrum.

Bacteria gets into the joints through the umbilical cord or direct injuries to the legs or joints. Farmers should detect the disease early when the animal starts limping or when joints swell and become hot before pus starts forming. This improves the chances of full recovery and reduces the probability of death.

Farmers should ensure maternity areas and the calf pens are clean and free of objects that can injure calves’ legs.

Mr President, agriculture needs its rescue plan now

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After President Uhuru Kenyatta announced a raft of tax reforms to blunt the pain of the Covid-19 pandemic, an imaginative Ugandan on social media implored on the Kenyan leader to fight to take, not just the disputed Migingo Island on Lake Victoria, but the whole of Uganda.

The remark was one of many salutary messages that greeted the President’s speech that sought to calm an anxious nation.

The attempt to ease the burden on citizens, who on a good day are some of the most highly taxed in the world, while not yielding to calls for a total lockdown that would have hurt millions, was indeed welcome.

But lost amid all this is the fact that not one of the measures touched directly on agriculture, the mainstay of the economy, which is ailing.

Other countries have put their money where their mouth is. China, for instance, where the disease started in November, rushed to reduce reliance on food imports by cushioning farmers and other players in agriculture.

The country put in place subsidies for machinery and rent reduction on public land and low-interest loans.


All this pushed up investment in agriculture with the use of drones rising to stand in the gap of labour shortage.

Already, restricted movement across the world has seen panic grip such countries as the UK where a deficit of 80,000 workers could leave crops rotting in farms.

In response, there have been calls there for workers who have been temporarily rendered jobless in other sectors to take up jobs in farms to “build a resilient, diverse, local food system”.

In contrast, there hasn’t been any deliberate and coherent move to keep Kenya’s agriculture afloat.

The closest President Kenyatta’s address went was when he ordered the payment of valued added tax refunds, which stand at Sh10 billion.


Of this, players in agriculture reckon that more than Sh6 billion is owed to flower firms, the arrears having accumulated since 2013. One company was owed Sh800 million in VAT reimbursements by the close of the year.

When it rains, it pours. Even before the coronavirus cataclysm, Kenya’s flower sector was sagging under all manner of taxes that make its otherwise excellent produce one of the most uncompetitive in the world.

Kenya Flower Council chief executive Clement Tulezi places the number of levies in the sector at 42 after county and national government governments imposed multiple regulations, taxes and fees.

At a distress meeting held on Tuesday under the auspices of the Agriculture Sector Network, a lobby, floriculture and horticulture players spoke of a dire situation following the near total collapse of demand in the EU and UK.

Most farms have sent the bulk of their workforce home on leave and the projection is that if the crisis lasts for more than three months, few farms will survive.

The message couldn’t have been clearer: The government needs to rescue an industry that earns the country billions of shillings annually in taxes and foreign exchange.

The pandemic has also come at the planting season for maize, the country’s staple. Farmers need seed and fertiliser subsidies to produce food for the nation. Even the imports that usually line the pockets of well-connected people are no longer assured. Countries are going to be paranoid at protecting local produce.

Desperate times are eye-openers. Just like the Covid-19 crisis has opened President Kenyatta’s eyes to a counterproductive tax regime, time is ripe for the government to reform the agriculture sector, the engine of the country’s economy.

Mr Sigei is agriculture editor, Nation Media Group.

Hoes, buckets, crates and gunny bags can host virus

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Demand for farm produce has increased significantly this period as most people move to buy or produce in bulk to reduce chances of visiting markets often.

Thus as need for produce such as vegetables grows, most farmers and other actors along the value chain may find themselves throwing caution to the wind in pursuit of profits.

Don’t be the weakest link in the fight against the disease. Here is how you should help:

On the farm

Provide hand-washing facilities or sanitisers for farm workers. You can also do temperature checks if possible using the thermometer gun. Farm workers should also observe social distancing of at least a metre as stipulated by the government.

All farm tools and equipment, which are hand-held, should be sanitised before and after use. Hand-washing facilities or sanitisers should be provided in the toilets and rooms shared by farm workers. Frequent sanitisation of surfaces that are frequently used on the farm or pack house should be done.


If harvesting is being done, workers should sanitise or wash their hands before they start the work. If possible, provide hand gloves and masks to those harvesting.

Crates, buckets or gunny bags used for putting in the produce after harvesting should be sanitised before use.

For farm produce that is washed after harvesting like carrots, tomatoes, beetroot and others, washing should be done with water that has a disinfectant.

Farm collection

Those going to the farm to collect produce and you as the farmer must take precautionary measures to avoid spread of Covid-19. Avoid direct contact with visitors.

Provide hand-washing facilities at the farm gate. You can also do temperature checks at the gate if possible and offer hand gloves and face masks to visitors or ask them to come with their own.

Sanitise all surfaces that come into contact with visitors before and after they leave the farm. If the visitors have a vehicle, it should be sanitised before they load farm produce.

The packaging materials brought by the visitors should also be sanitised before putting in farm produce. Provide hand-washing facilities or sanitiser in the washrooms to be used by visitors.

Vehicles transporting farm produce from the farm to the market

Ensure the driver always sanitises his hands and if possible, put on hand gloves or sanitise the steering wheel and the door frequently.

If the driver is carrying somebody to assist him in offloading, they should keep a metre distance in the vehicle.

Sanitise the vehicle doors regularly, as they are frequently touched, to maintain hygiene and prevent spread of the virus.

On arrival on the farm, the driver and his assistant should sanitise their hands, which should also be repeated at the destination they deliver the farm produce. The vehicle should be sanitised after offloading the produce.

Delivery of farm produce

Minimise personal contact by keeping a metre distance all the time. Hand-washing facilities should be provided. Temperature checks can also be done on the people delivering produce.

When offloading produce, ensure you put on gloves and masks. The containers into which the produce is to be offloaded should be sanitised first before being used. The vehicle or the means of transport used should be sanitised after offloading the produce.

At the market

There should be hand-washing facilities for all the people entering the market and the traders. Buyers and traders must also keep a metre distance.

As a shopper, make sure that the carrier bags you are using are clean and as you shop or sell, avoid holding cash and use mobile money.

Market officials must ensure that it is cleaned and sanitised as required.

This can be at the end of the day or after some hours. Display notices explaining hygiene measures to be taken at conspicuous places in the markets.

If you suspect that you are infected with Covid-19, avoid marketplaces to curb spread of the disease.

Ms Mutua is based at the Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

Olive tree: A symbol of peace and hope that offers durable timber

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Olea africana (African olive or wild olive) is one of the world’s oldest trees. It is a subspecies of the domesticated Olea europaea, which is grown in southern Europe and the Middle East, for production of olive oil.

The wild olive is widespread in Africa. It grows in many countries from South Africa to Ethiopia in the north, Somalia in the east and Sierra Leone in the west.

According to Kenya Forestry Research Institute’s (Kefri) Guide to Planting Trees in Kenya, it grows in ecological zones with altitudes ranging from 1,600-2,200 metres above sea level.

These regions have annual rainfalls of between 800mm and 1,400mm. However, it is a drought-and-disease-resistant tree that can grow in zones with less rain, reaching heights of 18 metres and can live for up to 120 years, but matures in 30 years.

Its Kenyan names include Mutamaiyu (Kikuyu) and Kumutamaywa (Bukusu).



The tree is propagated from seeds or hardwood cuttings. A kilogramme of its seeds costs Sh3,000 at Kefri shops.

The seeds should be soaked in hot water for at least 24 hours, according to the Seed Handbook of Kenya, edited by Omondi W, Maua JO, and Gachathi FN and published by Kefri.

They should be sowed in sandy soil and watered well once a week. This is a tree I have not tried to plant in the nursery, so I prefer buying seedlings.

On average, a six-month-old seedling sells for Sh100 in the market while one that is a year old goes for up to Sh300.

Once planted, the tree, which is resistant to most diseases, needs very little care. Indeed, because of its disease-resistant nature, it is used as the stock onto which the cultivated olive, Olea europaea, is grafted.

Like its cousin, this tree is a symbol of peace and hope. For those who have read the story of the floods in the Bible, it is a leaf of this tree that the dove sent by Noah brought back to show that the waters had abated off the earth, and that peace had been restored.

It is from this that the English idiom “To hold out the olive branch (to someone)” is derived. It means to extend an offer or gesture of peace, reconciliation or truce to end a disagreement or dispute. In the Bible, the olive tree is also referred to as a symbol of fertility and prosperity.

The tree can regenerate after a fire and produces oil for cooking, dressing salads, lighting and even anointing kings. The oil comes from its small oval fruits.

In Africa, the European olive grows mostly in the north of the continent, but some sub-Saharan countries, including Uganda, have tried to grow it.

Commercial value

African olive has great commercial value as it is used in production of construction beams, carvings, fencing posts, wood fuel, medicine and fodder.

It is further used to make some of the most durable and desirable beehives because the insects are attracted by the sweet scent of its wood. Its flowers are also sweetly-scented and bees love their pollen and nectar.

Among the Kikuyu, its green leaves when crashed and boiled were traditionally used for deworming. The smoke and ashes of its wood were also used to treat sour milk in gourds.

A tea made from dried leaves is said to help improve kidney function and alleviate urinary tract problems.

Leaf extracts are further used to treat eye infections, colic, sore throats, diarrhoea and fever and have reputedly been used to treat malaria by indigenous peoples.

Unlike its European cousin whose fruits produce oil, juice from ripe African olive is used as an ink. The fruit is enjoyed by birds, monkeys, mongoose and humans.

The flowers attract bees, butterflies and insects, while the leaves also make an excellent fodder for livestock.

The wood, which has a reddish or golden brown colour, is strong, durable and extremely hard. It is popular with carpenters, particularly for furniture and cabinet making.

When used as fence posts or house construction, it lasts for long because it is resistant to termites, borers and rot.

As charcoal and firewood, it is economical because it burns for long just like that of the Acacia xanthophloea.

There is just one disadvantage.

Olea africana, like grevillea, has an aggressive root system. While this helps in controlling soil erosion, it is not advisable to plant it near buildings and walls.

From farm to the market, stop Covid-19 using these practices

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Several studies have linked Covid-19 to bats and other wild animals as the likely source.

The disease is believed to have jumped the species’ barrier to humans. While the intermediate animal has not been identified, it could be a domestic food animal, a wild animal or a domesticated wild animal.

Generally, coronaviruses are found in many species of animals including cattle, camels, pigs and cats, where they cause mild to severe infections.

Examples of severe infections include the winter dysentery and shipping fever in cattle. Some coronaviruses are zoonotic, which means they affect animals and humans, but most strains are not.

Examples of zoonotic coronaviruses are the Severe Acute Respiratory syndrome (Sars) that was caused by Sar coronavirus (SAR-CoV) and was transmitted from civets and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers), that was caused by the Mers coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and was transmitted from camels to humans.

As for Covid-19, there has been no evidence of its transmission from humans to animals and vice versa and also no transmission from animal to animal so far, but as a precautionary measure, people suffering from Covid-19 should avoid contact with animals and those not affected should step up basic hygiene measures when handling animals.


Amid the mandatory or self-imposed quarantine requirement and implementation of various hygiene measures, as a livestock value chain actor, you must have a plan of action on how to control Covid-19 on your farm or premises.

Here is what you can do:

Input suppliers

These include feed manufacturers, animal health service providers, agrochemical suppliers, veterinary support services and others who provide goods and services to farmers for production of livestock products such as milk, meat and eggs.

The feed suppliers travel long distances in search of raw materials and are therefore likely to transmit Covid-19 through contacts.

You can minimise human contact by ordering supplies online, via social media or through contact addresses. You can also avoid long journeys in search of raw materials by using locally available alternatives such as soya and sunflower for protein sources, instead of omena or fish and wheat bran instead of maize bran for energy supply.

Although animal health service providers are more conversant with disease control, they should be more vigilant by using personal protective equipment, observing biosecurity such as foot and wheel baths and minimising the number of visits to a farm.

The recommended injection frequency for antibiotics, for example, is three to five days and unless it is a special case, the lower figure should be adopted for now.

You can also use long-acting medication, which does not require daily dosing. Advise more on disease control to pre-empt infections and report any Covid-19 like signs in animals to veterinary authorities.

Most of the drugs used in the country are imported from countries that are currently hard hit by Covid-19. As a mitigation measure, the countries have imposed quarantines on people and goods, drugs included.

In due course, we may have acute drug shortage. Drug sellers, like the animal health service providers, should emphasise on disease control to their clients.

Diseases don’t read books and although Covid-19 is recorded as a human-to-human transmission, there is need for active surveillance of the disease in animals by veterinary authorities.

When life gives you lemon, make lemonade. Due to the stay-at-home directive, most telephone livestock owners have found a chance to be absent from their busy employment or business schedules and stay or visit the farm.

This may enhance food production in the long run and avert food shortage, which might arise from controlled importation.

But as a measure, if you are using commercial feeds, stock supplies to last the quarantine period. Minimise farm entry by service providers such as milk collectors and feed deliveries by opening up a drop-off point at the farm gate and limit access to animals by anybody exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms.

For most small-scale farmers, social distancing may not be an issue in the milking parlour since most farms have only a few workers.

Large and medium-scale farmers either carry out machine milking or hand milking with many workers at a time. Social distancing on such farms should be observed and there should be thorough cleaning of equipment with soap and water, followed by thorough rinsing with clean water and hanging the equipment upside down to dry.

Workers should clean their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling animals, milking equipment and animal feeds.


As a transporter, observe vehicle and personal hygiene and regular cleaning and sanitisation of equipment and packaging materials of the products you transport.


Milk processors should produce more of the long shelf-life products such as UHT and powdered milk. This would help consumers make fewer visits to milk outlets, thus decongesting such places.

Slaughterhouses operate from 6am to around 11am to ensure that transportation of meat takes place before the ambient temperatures are high.

This is to minimise meat spoilage. Due to this requirement, slaughter premises are sometimes crowded with meat sellers, veterinary and other personnel struggling to meet the deadline.

To continue with slaughter operations, therefore, there is need to minimise the number of people in the facilities at any given time.

This can be achieved through the idea of a daylong slaughter. In such a case, use of refrigerated vehicles for meat transport is necessary.

Eggs are normally collected, sorted into different sizes and put in trays. To minimise contamination of eggs on the farm and at the market, handlers should frequently sanitise their hands, clean the working areas, egg trays and other packaging materials and preferably package the eggs into preferred quantities so that the customers don’t have to handle them as they try to select the biggest.

A combination of distance and hygiene is essential. Packaging of supplies limits their handling and reduces the time taken to purchase such items in addition to curbing spread of the virus through contamination.

Home delivery also reduces congregation of customers in one place. As for livestock markets, distancing can be achieved through controlled movement into the auction yards by buyers and sellers.

This is the time most consumers are stockpiling, with fear of lockdown in mind. Keep livestock products in hygienic conditions, whether chilled or not.

The SARs-CoV-2 coronavirus is killed by high temperatures. You should, therefore, cook the food well. Also wash food thoroughly and separate raw from cooked food. More importantly, avoid overeating to sustain the supplies.

US: Gwinnett and its cities ordering residents to stay home amid COVID-19 outbreak

Gwinnett County
About Your Commissioners | Gwinnett County

By Curt Yeomans

Gwinnett County residents are being ordered to not only bundle up in their homes, but to stay in them, until 11:59 p.m. on April 13 because of the outbreak of the coronavirus disease known as COVID-19.

A stay-at-home order was issued jointly by the county and its cities Friday afternoon, mandating residents to stay at home except to conduct essential business needed for their health and safety as a way of reducing opportunities for the disease to spread. All non-essential businesses will be forced to close because of the order.

“We are all navigating uncharted waters as we respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency, and I am grateful to each of the cities for their decisive actions,” Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said. “The district commissioners and I would like to express our deep appreciation to all of our residents and businesses for making temporary sacrifices for the good of our communities as our hospitals, healthcare workers, and first responders prepare for a rapidly growing caseload.”

The only businesses that will be allowed to remain open include: health care facilities; grocery stores; farmers markets; food banks; convenience stores; gas stations; banks and related financial institutions; hardware stores; newspapers; television and radio stations; auto repair shops; auto supply stores; plumbers; mailing and shipping businesses; laundromats; dry cleaners; educational institutions not closed by Gov. Brian Kemp; businesses that provide materials people use to work from home; delivery services; home-based senior, adult of child care; airlines; taxis; lawfirms, real estate firms; accounting firms; hotels; food cultivation businesses such as farms; businesses that provide social services; and businesses that provide services to the government.

And, yes, restaurants can also continue doing take-out. Businesses that sell alcohol can also sell unopened containers of beer and wine for consumption offsite as well.

“The cities have worked to align their emergency decisions with the directives of Gov. Kemp, guidance from the public health department, and Gwinnett County’s local emergency orders,” Duluth Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Kelkenberg, who is also president of the Gwinnett Municipal Association, said. “Our residents need to understand the extreme danger and seriousness of the coronavirus, to which no one has immunity. We are acting in unison to stem its spread, to keep from overwhelming our medical facilities, and to save lives.”

The orders issued by the county and the cities do permit residents to walk, job and ride a bike, but they will be required to practice social distancing, including staying at least six-feet apart from each other at all times.

Other than exercising, and going out to get essential goods and services, however, residents must stay at home.

At noon Friday, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported there have been 102 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in Gwinnett so far. That’s more than twice as many cases as there were 48 hours earlier, at noon on Wednesday.

The county has been gradually moving toward this over the last week. It closed playgrounds, pavilions and other social gathering spots in parks last weekend. Then the county and its cities jointly ordered restaurants to close their dining rooms and outdoor seating areas, and other businesses such as bowling alleys, theaters, arcades and tattoo parlors to close entirely.

“We continue to analyze the situation daily, always seeking information from the experts at the CDC and the Department of Public Health in order to make the best decision for the citizens of Lawrenceville,” Lawrenceville Mayor David Still said. “Not only do we have local businesses and employees to consider, we have nearly 50,000 utility customers who rely on us to provide water, gas and electricity to their homes and businesses. This Stay at Home Order makes a strong statement to our citizens about the importance of temporarily adjusting their lifestyle to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

City of Suwanee is the Headquarters of The Maravi Post

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Police should enforce curfew with restraint

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The curfew announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta this week took effect last night as the government intensified efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Unlike other countries that declared a complete lockdown, stopping every public activity and forcing everyone to stay indoors, Kenya opted for a dusk-to-dawn restriction, allowing citizens to go about their business during the day.

Informing this is the understanding that our economy is largely driven by the informal sector, supporting more than 80 per cent of the population, for whom daily work is non-negotiable because that is their only source of upkeep.

For that population, failing to go to work even for a single day means their families going without a meal and rendered unable to meet all other socio-economic obligations.

A complete lockdown would have grave consequences on the economy: production would grind to a halt and that would affect the entire business chain, including sourcing of raw materials and securing markets for them.

A curfew, therefore, is a compromise to enable the economy to run while creating restrictions to limit infections.



In this context, it is hoped that the curfew will cause people to stay indoors and avoid irresponsible activities that would expose them to arrest by the police.

Reckless behaviour that may trigger further and harsher actions has to be avoided.

Simply, citizens have to obey the law and implement the protocols spelt out by the Ministry of Health. With the number of infected standing at 31, all efforts must be channelled towards controlling the spread.

Indeed, the police and other agencies have been roped into this fight, yet, ideally, they are better off dealing with other critical security matters.

Even so, the government has to handle the situation with restraint. It should provide clear guidelines about the curfew, explaining the protocols involved.

For instance, the curfew does not translate into abrogation of individual rights. Whatever the authorities do must be within the law.


On Friday, Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai highlighted what would be done to those violating the directives.

However, he did not provide details, for example, on how the police will handle the arrests.

Where will they take those arrested, given the government is seeking to decongest police cells and prisons to curb the spread of the virus?

How and where will the cases be handled without compromising public health? What are the safety precautions in the custodies?

There are legitimate fears that, given the characteristic behaviour of the police officers, chances are that some will resort to extortion to cash in on the situation to make money from hapless citizens.

Public assurance is pertinent in this regard. Systems ought to be put in place to eliminate corrupt practices in the entire process.

Thus far, the public has not been sufficiently apprised of what is expected of them or better, their rights and entitlements.


Police will certainly do random checks and arrest those found to be violating the curfew directive.

But unless professionally executed, that is bound to be counter-intuitive and cause bad blood between the public and the police.

Put simply, the police should publish the dos and don’ts to make it easier for everyone to understand and do the correct thing.

Public education is paramount and, in particular, the police service requires new orientation to enable them deal fairly, humanly but firmly with the citizens.

It is noted that although the government has provided a list of the essential services to be exempted during the curfew, there is no clarity of how they will be identified.

This is the first time in nearly 40 years that the country is going through this painful experience and a majority of the population is strange to it.

The last time the country had a curfew was in 1982, following the failed political coup by a section of the military.


Contexts are different and so are the objectives. To date, the country is grappling with a killer medical crisis that requires minimal social contact and which goal is best achieved through limiting movements.

Getting the public to understand that objective is vital. The country is not at war but is dealing with an unprecedented medical challenge that requires totally new thinking.

All said, the public is apprehensive about the way the curfew will be implemented and how their life will change, and they need assurance that everything will be done within the law.

Covid-19 has occasioned unprecedented pain and disruptions in our midst; the way it is handled will determine how far we go in eliminating it and emerging a stronger, vibrant nation.

Our leaders were never for us, only them

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Not all Kenyans have had the luck of being raised in functional homes.

Some had drunks for parents and others grew up in poverty. But in all these, children knew that if a snake strayed into their home, the father would rise to the occasion and kill it before it bit anyone or the chickens.

Home may have been far from heaven, but at least the children knew that in times of trouble, the trouble would be dealt with first.

And so it is with much bewilderment that we watch our government fumbling around in times of trouble.

Previously, we have wondered if we even have a country, because nothing seems to work while all our money for the past seven years has seemed to disappear faster than in any other time in Kenya’s history.

But in these unusual times, we had hoped that just like those drunk fathers who protect their families, our government would get itself together and help us go through this pandemic.


Other countries are similarly adrift, but every government is doing its best for its population.

The first instance that pointed us to a government that completely lost it was when they still allowed planes from countries battling the virus to land at our airports.

We complained to no avail. They only stopped international planes from coming as from Thursday this week.

As the cases of infection started piling up in our country, the government said it would quarantine people from infected countries. It has turned out to be the most chaotic quarantine.

Travellers have expressed concern about how they have mingled freely with police officers at the airport, with their fellow travellers from other countries, with staff at hotels.

They are also afraid they could contract the virus from each other. Back in our rural areas, people are beginning to think it’s all a joke.

Others are actually claiming the government created coronavirus cases just to get money from the international community. Knowing our government, would you blame Kenyans?


Of course we could tolerate this, just as we have tolerated all our other government’s inefficiencies. Or we could take this as a wake-up call and figure out how to save ourselves.

Let’s open our eyes and see that we have leaders who walk away from their charges when the situation needs leadership.

Let’s never forget that the President called a conference to unveil 4G internet instead of additional water or health staffing and equipment resources.

As we sit in our houses and ponder, hopefully we will also realise that a government that barely rises to squash immediate danger isn’t one that’s rehabilitatable.

It can’t be repaired with a few changes here and there. It can’t be made to work even if the Cabinet secretary for Health is changed every two months.

It is one that needs to go home to give us time to structure systems that work for us. May those who survive this pandemic learn from it.

Messaging on Covid-19 should include everyone

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Hip-hop artiste Khaligraph Jones has once again insulted Kenyans. He is right.

In a video clip circulated on social media titled “Coronavirus Freestyle”, he calls us donkeys (among other choice words unsuitable for a family newspaper) in the rap song for failing to respond sanely and maturely to orders like social-distancing and hand-washing that would help contain a virus that has turned the world upside down.

He’s one of many musicians who’ve cashed in on coronavirus-themed songs. Gospel artiste Bahati even promised a song that would “Stop corona”. What an unfortunate statement from an artiste!

Artists owe it to Kenyans to use their art to raise the consciousness of the nation.

In the book Artist the Ruler, Okot Okot p’Bitek writes that a thought system of a people is created by the most powerful, sensitive and imaginative minds that the society has produced: these are the supreme artists, the imaginative creators of their time.

With their massive following online and offline, this is the time for artists to also showcase their patriotism by reiterating every message about Covid-19 from the government.



Khaligraph Jones probably commands more attention and interest than the eloquent Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.

His voice is running hoarse from repeating the same messages about how to keep Covid-19 at bay.

However, there’s evidence all around us of Kenyans going about their business as usual; of some matatu crews going about their business, asking “What do you want us to eat?”.

Of parents hosting birthday parties for their children. Of bars that have defied orders to shut down.

“We are telling you to keep your kids home, and not invite people to your home when, for all you know, they could be coronavirus-positive. That’s why they’re home in the first place!” said a clearly agitated CS during a media briefing.

These should ideally be streamed to demonstrate social-distancing. Khaligraph Jones can help amplify the CS’s message with his music.

Shame on every Kenyan who’s consciously making the choice to spread the virus by refusing to stay home.

But this is not to forget that the government still needs a solid plan for those to whom staying on the couch (if at all they have one) means starving to death.

But there’s a different segment of the population, too, who do not have the luxury of the choice to be indisciplined or obstinate because they have not even had an opportunity to hear or watch the messages about Covid-19.

What would you do if your only source of information about Covid-19 was the press briefings by Mr Kagwe but you couldn’t hear what he was saying?

What if your only source of information about the disease was a newspaper or pamphlet but you couldn’t read?

That’s what people with hearing or visual impairment have to undergo on a daily basis. It’s often the case during times of emergency that this critical segment of Kenyans are forgotten.

What would it take, for example, for Bwana CS Health to have a competent sign interpreter at every press briefing standing next to him?

It would also be an extreme sign of care and concern to have the written pamphlets translated into Braille.


Fredrick Ouko, the programme officer of the Disability Rights Programme at the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa, advises that while designing responses to emergencies in our society, we must always think of the breadth of diversity there is and how our messaging reaches them to achieve a truly inclusive response.

While this responsibility can’t be left to the national government and the Ministry of Health alone, it starts there. It’s the only way the communication can be termed effective.

This crisis offers a chance to strengthen communication, especially in reaching the often neglected segments.

The Health CS needs to treat the matter urgently. Let the fighting go on.

The writer comments on gender and social issues; Twitter: @ FaithOneya; [email protected]

Kenya’s response to coronavirus reassuring

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They say desperate times call for desperate measures.

In a period of such rare crisis as the Covid-19 pandemic, leaders find themselves on the edge and not one nation is able to stand out and claim the pedestal of authority, or offer assistance to other nations.

It is every country for itself and God for us all. The nations of the world are at a critical juncture.

Different countries will go through it in their own ways before emerging at different destinations at different times.

The ability and agility of our leadership will determine the extent of impact and effects occasioned by the crisis as well as the speed and direction of recovery.

All economies will be hit hard and prospects for recovery and growth will be dimmed. The great depression of 1929 and the eurozone financial crisis of 2008 will look like child’s play.


President Uhuru Kenyatta deserves a thumbs-up for boldly coming out and standing on the right side of history.


Forget about higher growth rates of GDP, sound macro-economic fundamentals and mega investment projects.

True leadership is about offering real solutions, especially when faced with a crisis of such magnitude.

History is in the making right now, in Kenya and the world. Human beings are making their hard choices now, under conditions of scarcity and uncertainty, and must act in the best interests of their families and their future.

The Covid-19 crisis has resulted in major disruptions in the running of public and private sectors and can be a double-edged sword that will certainly affect the trajectory of the country.

The bold steps the president has taken to cushion hardworking Kenyans who now can’t go about their normal duties cannot go unrecognised.

The various tax and expenditure measures prescribed will go a long way in mending the holes in the social safety nets, compensating those currently forced out of gainful activities, as well as reducing the weight of overall taxation.

This will lead to an increase of money in circulation. These are the microeconomic decisions and responses that earn the president bonga points.


For the record, even during periods of recession, consumption of essential goods and services invariably remains constant.

The impact of the current health crisis will have far-reaching implications on nearly all spheres of human experience, and a truly responsible government must prioritise addressing the immediate concerns and felt-needs of the people.

The president must also hasten to grab this opportunity to bridge the yawning gap between the rich and the poor.

This health crisis has made all of us equal and should provide an opportunity for policy and legislative proposals to ensure that the prescribed salary cuts as well as the tax relief given to those earning below Sh25,000 remain as such.

This crisis must open the way for breaking the cycle of tribalism, nepotism, impunity and graft and lead to a more inclusive, united society.

Per economist Adam Smith: as long as the gatekeepers run on empty, those who occupy the palace can never be at ease in their sleep.

The author is a public finance expert.