Tanzania: Getting Back to a New 'Normal' in Tanzania

Life could soon get back to "normal" in Tanzania as colleges and universities are set to resume classes, the skies will be open to bring in tourists and sports activities are expected to return.

Tanzanians are known for being friendly and polite. Talking to complete strangers you just met on a daladala is a social norm. Tolerance of different religions is celebrated.

Then came the Covid-19 pandemic, which has challenged and changed our way of life. We suspended international flights, schools and colleges were closed, national celebrations were also suspended. But, at least we still had our places of worship.

But this pandemic is unforgiving, based on how badly hit some countries have been.

The scary part about life going back to normal is that all activities will resume all at once. Over the past few weeks I have watched people following government guidelines to wear masks and wash hands haphazardly.

Majority of the people will only remember to follow these guidelines after an update from the government only to revert back to old ways the next day.

We joke a lot, I would say. We find humour even in serious matters of life and death.

I remember on March 16, the Health ministry confirmed the country's first case of Covid-19 in Arusha. Just an hour later people were crowded in the pharmacies purchasing protective masks, hand sanitisers and hand soaps. These items doubled in price and then quickly sold out. And not just in the city where the first case was announced, in every part of the country.

Schools and colleges were closed; social gathering suspended but bars and clubs remained open.

Well the seriousness only lasted for a week or two. Majority of the people still live their lives like there is no disease. When you go to a bank, a guard must tell customers to give each other space every ten minutes.

WASHING HANDS

During the first few weeks, every shop -- big and small -- had a bucket and soap at the door and customers had to wash their hands before being served. But that is also almost history, with customers having a choice on whether or not to do it!

Markets are crowded, people still sit at vijiwe to socialise.

If sports activities resume, a bunch of other activities will also start, such as betting. When colleges are reopened then a number of people in the streets, food places, public transport will increase as well.

Majority of them did not wear masks during the spread of the virus and I fear that is unlikely to happen after going back to normal.

Yes, life must go on, but let's observe the precautions given by health authorities, let's pray and stay safe.

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