Home COLUMNS AND OPINIONS But the pandemic has also been an education in humanity

But the pandemic has also been an education in humanity

by biasharadigest


“Where is the love?” is a question that won’t cease as the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, leaving ugly stains on humanity.

The lyrics in Black Eyed Peas’ song by the same title would fit perfectly in the current situation: People killin’ people dyin’/ Children hurtin’, I hear them cryin’/ Can you practice what you preachin’?

Our children are not safe. They are either labouring hard somewhere or being hunted down by sex predators. Our women are not safe; they are dying at the hands of their partners. Experts have warned stress from social isolation is exacerbating tensions and increasing “the risk of domestic and sexual violence against women and children”. Our men are not safe; they are being shot dead by the police for the flimsiest of reasons. Health workers  are not safe either. They recently buried one of their own, Dr Doreen Lugaliki, who died of Covid-19 complications.

ONEYA: But the pandemic has also been an education in humanity

Because despite all the dreariness, a most unlikely hero (or villain, depending on your perspective) has emerged: the landlord. Perhaps the relationship between the landlord and tenant has become even more special because people have been forced to stay at home for longer periods than they are used to. Additionally, shelter is a basic need that Kenyans who have been rendered jobless by the pandemic can hardly afford.

Landlords have starred in some of the most heart-wrenching and heart-warming stories to come out of the pandemic. As some of them ignore the basic tenets of humanity by kicking out hungry, crying children, women and men and from their houses over rent arrears, some are restoring faith in humanity by taking extraordinary measures to make sure they are on the right side of history.


Alvan Gatitu, an actor and singer, knows the pain of being forced to sleep out in the cold because of rent arrears. In a viral video, he claimed that his landlord switched off his electricity and water for two-and-a-half weeks. He added that a friend who promised to host him asked the watchmen not to let him in. Where was the love? In Nairobi’s Kayole estate, 16 families were forced to spend the night in the cold after their landlord evicted them over rent arrears.


One of the most shocking incidents, however, came from Nanyuki, courtesy of Jane Wamucii’s landlord. He removed the roof and door of her house, leaving her and her three children out in the cold. The landlords who take such extreme actions justify them by citing loans and their right to demand what’s theirs. Really?

However, for every tragic story, there’s one with a happy ending. Take Mr Michael Munene, a landlord who waived rent for his tenants for four months and told them to focus on providing food for themselves and their families, adding that if the pandemic persisted, he would “see what to do”.

Mr Justus Eleman went to the same humanity school as Mr Munene. The Lodwar Town resident waived April rent totalling Sh66,000. He said the tenants had been consistent in paying rent and it was his time to show solidarity.

People like Mr Munene and Mr Eleman deserve acknowledgement as heroes. While we can’t all be landlords, those of us privileged to have a source of income can do that one little thing that will mean a meal for someone who would have slept hungry otherwise.

Like Victor Edalia who started Kibera Organic Gardens that supplies vegetables to at least 10 needy families on a weekly basis. It may be a long time before the economy starts humming again and it’s such kind acts that will keep all of us going. Research has also shown that kindness boosts happiness and wellbeing.

Let kindness to one another be the legacy of this pandemic. Start now. Moral excellence, as philosopher Aristotle said, comes about as a result of habit.

The writer comments on social and gender topics; [email protected]; @FaithOneya

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