From my street knowledge of statistics, I can conclude that only 45% of people in Nairobi are wearing masks. Out of that 45% that have masked up, half of them think that the mask is for covering the chin. This leaves us with only 22.5% of people who are taking masks seriously.
On social distancing, I think only 20% are taking it seriously. The rest are socially distanced by circumstances, or are just ignoring the social distancing measures.
Why is this happening? Are these people suicidal or homicidal?
Strangely, the people who are ignoring these directives are no criminals or social outcasts, but your normal good guys who have no criminal intent. We have seen a judge, an MCA, a priest, a pastor, a boda boda rider, a shopkeeper, a celebrity, a food donor and all the titles that we can have. Why are good people acting bad?
There are some explanations for these behaviors. These do not excuse them for ignoring the guidelines, but just an explanation of why people are doing what they are doing. Here are six analogies to explain why.
Mercury in Sugar
In 2018, it was reported that the sugar that was being sold in Kenya was laced with mercury. There was an uproar for a short time and people moved on. Nobody was really panicking that a nation was being poisoned.
Had it been reported that only the sugar that was used in your house had mercury, probably you would be dead by now. Why? Because you are alone. Sometimes, people do not panic over problems that affect everybody.
Conclusion: We are many. I won’t go down alone.
The road accident
If you have ever seen a pedestrian hit by a car, chances are high that you do not cross the highways at undesignated places. This is because the accident proved to you that you can get killed, and pedestrian death is a real to you. Consequently, if you have never seen any pedestrian fatality, you may never feel like crossing the road is dangerous.
Most people in Kenya do not know any person who has contracted Covid-19 and died. It therefore feels like this monster is not real. Most people have never seen an epidemic and that threatens everybody.
Subconscious conclusion: Covid-19 is not real (at least for now).
How many people have died due to earthquake related event in Kenya in the last 50 years? As far as most Kenyans are concerned, zero.
How many people in Kenya build their houses with earthquakes in mind? Very few. In Japan? Almost everybody. This is because fatal earthquakes are common in Japan but rare in Kenya. In the same way, this Covid-19 thing is a foreign thing and no disease has ever killed many people in Kenya within a short time.
Conclusion: All factors held constant; Covid-19 will not kill people.
Out of sight, Out of Mind
Where did Covid-19 start? China. Where has it killed most people? Europe and US.
For most people, China Europe and the US are just places on a map. Having never been there, you can’t really tell the difference between Spain and Mars; they are all places far away. Maybe they do not even exist, maybe.
And so, the pandemic is still somewhere in fairy lands. It is not here. This is why some people question government statistics about the disease, and others suspicious of the cases that have been reported.
Conclusion: This Covid-19 thing is not that serious.
I Can’t get Cancer
Chances are high that you will never get cancer. The feeling is usually that if you are 50, you have managed 50 years cancer free and if you are 20, you are too young to get cancer.
However, we know that people are dying of cancer everyday in Kenya, just that it is not me. The same thing will happen with Corona Virus disease
Conclusion: I won’t die of Covid-19.
Do I have to Exercise Today?
Unless for a few weird people, going to the gym for the fifth time has never been fun. This is especially if you are trying to lose weight.
The problem is no single event at a gym can cut your weight. After 30 minutes on the treadmill or jogging you go back home with your full weight. You have to do it over and over again before you can see some results.
The same case with wearing a mask. It is not rewarding at all. There is no risk in not wearing it for a day, and no visible reward for wearing it.
Conclusion: One day without a mask won’t kill me.
How do we get People to Wear Masks?
It is hard to convince 50 million to wear masks. It takes time, goodwill, strategic communication and maybe, a few threats. For some people, it needs to be made to look cool. For others, they need to feel the danger of Covid-19. For the wise, a word is enough.