The “ABC of Coronavirus”

By Ayọ̀ Akínwándé


I was born the year Fela Anikulapo Kuti released the song, “Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense.” My education began with learning the alphabets. And now I know when the teachers are teaching me nonsense. Now everywhere you go, the government is teaching us. Maybe nonsense.

Stay at home – No Light,

Work from Home – No Wi-Fi,

Wash your hands – No Water,

Social Distancing – No More ‘Owambe’

Self-Isolate – Under the Bridge

Now facemasks are hanging in people’s hands like Bras. It’s the new trendy product, sold in every street corner, the hustle must continue. We now seat 3 on each row inside the Danfo buses instead of 4, but the price has doubled, Agberos with no shirts now wearing gloves. Even the Almajiris children are now the mobile epicenter of the virus in Northern Nigeria.

The global chorus is “We are all in it together,” but our realities always differs across the Global South, and North. In Nigeria, the chorus has been translated to be that for once, the citizens, and the politicians who can’t travel abroad for medical treatment, are in the same boat. All hail Corona.

But these teachers are still teaching us nonsense. Some are saying that Coronavirus was sent by the devil, teaching us nonsense on pulpits. Some believe that it is a ‘big man’ disease, teaching us nonsense on the streets. Some say it is 5G, fake Gees! Some believe the government is using Corona Virus to cash-out from the IMF, cooking up fake numbers, and reaping off the citizens as usual. Some are even asking, “Who has W.H.O helped?”

But then how do we ask these teachers new questions. If we are to keep a distance of 2 meters from each other, how would you then “Face-Me-I-Face-You?” in clustered apartments? If we are to stay at home, how do we feed our children? If we are to remain under lockdown, what happens after?

On 16th April, when the death toll from the virus in Nigeria was 12, it was reported on Aljazeera that the country’s security forces had killed 18 people from trying to enforce the lockdown. It’s a familiar story for the Nigerians, but for the foreigners watching this report, we are a weird bunch. I tried watching Cable News Network (CNN), but my blood pressure increased. It’s all about their President. I switched to Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), and I saw the Nigerian President addressing the country for the first time in a long while. No reporters present, just him and the media crew. After all he is an old man, a high-risk individual, with underlying sicknesses, often treated in London, at Nigerian taxpayers costs. I listened to him, and I was depressed.

For some, everyday is like a “pandemic,” life lived in the unknown. As a Nigerian, you can live your entire life without experiencing the government; you provide your healthcare, your security, your education, your shelter, your electricity, and you still pay taxes. The idea of the government bailing anyone out is an illusion.

But this global uncertainty is an accelerant. Lives have been lost, livelihoods are already erased, and relationships are being threatened. Some are under lockdown with their abusers; others are locked away from their lovers. So much uncertainty in the air, but we must keep breathing, and believing. For soon the vaccines will arrive, and we shall soon return to ‘normal.’

God bless the dead, and may their souls rest in peace.

Now let me teach you my nonsense:

A – Asymptomatic

B – Bats

C- Covid

D – Disease

E – Epicenter

F – FiveG


H – Hydroxychloroquine

I – Infections

J – Jobless

K – Keyworkers

L – Lockdown

M – Mask


O – Outbreak

P – Pandemic

Q – Quarantine

R – Recession

S – Symptoms

T – Testing

U – Undetected

V – Ventilators

W – Wuhan

X – Xenophobia

Y – Yemen

Z – Zero



Owambe – Parties

Danfo BusesCommercial public buses

Agberos – Commercial bus conductors

Almajiris – Out of school children