Bunmi Dipo-Salami, the executive director of Baobab for Women’s Human Rights, shares her COVID-19 Lockdown Story with The Interview.
What’s your typical day like since the lockdown?
Well, I’m not sure I’ve had a typical day since the lockdown. Each day is different from the other, even though each day of the week is just a day – no week day, no weekend.
What I’ve had to do, without having to say it, is to define what normalcy means for me, not what society has defined normalcy as.
I think that the lockdown has afforded me the opportunity of having a firsthand experience of what challenging and uncertain times really look like and I have had to figure out how to operate and find balance within my own space.
What’s constant however, is my exercise routine which I make sure I do not miss, whether in the morning or in the evening.
Apart from that, I take each day as my body feels like taking it.
If I want to sit at my computer in the morning and work all the way to the end of the day, I do that.
If I wake up and just decide it’s a Netflix day, that’s exactly what I will do.
Sometimes I wake up in the night to work and go back to bed by 6:00am.
If I feel like having a coaching exercise with my young adult children, I do that.
There are also days when I feel like cooking and whenever that happens, I just take over the kitchen.
I’ve also been taking shots of myself so that I can compare my COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 looks whenever this is over.
So, I really haven’t had a typical day since the crisis started and my system is just adjusting to that!
I had the most exciting and cheapest Easter celebration this year. That was quite surprising because I really never realised that that festive period could be that cheap and very fulfilling
Have there been any pleasant surprises about yourself and those close to you in this lockdown?
What I have noticed is that I didn’t realise that I missed my loved ones as much as I did.
You know with the hustle and bustle, moving from one meeting to the other, running after one project or the other, dealing with family matters, and so forth, I have not been able to keep in constant touch with the people I care about and those who care about me deeply.
I think it’s been the same for many of my friends, because we just find ourselves calling one another and catching up during this period.
Also, I had the most exciting and cheapest Easter celebration this year.
That was quite surprising because I really never realised that that festive period could be that cheap and very fulfilling.
It was so exciting for me because I decided that even though the pandemic forced the world to be physically distanced, I was going to be socially connected during that season.
You know typically during Easter, a few friends would come to the house or we would go visiting, but this time around I could devote time to so many of my loved ones because there wasn’t any guests to entertain.
Since technology has made life easy, I went visiting remotely, traveling to different cities – Abuja, Lagos, Ile-Ife, Warri, Ekiti, Ondo, Akure and so on; different countries – UK, Spain, USA, Liberia, The Gambia, among others, and going into different households via Facetime and WhatsApp video to ‘see’ my family and friends as well as members of their households, including their children, most of whom had grown up on me.
I called up my extended family members, far and near – siblings, nieces and nephews, cousins, in-laws; friends that we’ve been through thick and thin together, but whom I had not seen for so long, not because we drifted apart, but we’ve just been too busy for our own good (laugh).
It was so good seeing their faces or hearing the children jump and scream for joy upon seeing my face on the device.
It felt so good to just talk and reminisce all day. It was so much fun and I went to bed very happy. Cheapest Easter but the most exciting ever!
Then, of course, I just discovered that my son is a chef! He has been slaying with all manner of meals these days. He even served me breakfast in bed!
I’ve also been taking shots of myself so that I can compare my COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 looks whenever this is over
What have been your greatest losses/disappointments?
My disappointment has been that most people are not taking the pandemic seriously.
That worries me a lot, especially when one hears of the havoc it has wreaked in some developed countries that one thought could cope with anything before now.
It is also sad that some people are going to private clinics and lying about their travel history thereby exposing the medical personnel and other patients in those clinics to contracting the virus.
It would seem that many people do not realise that this is war and if it becomes full-blown, we’ll all pay dearly for it.
I pray it does not escalate beyond the capacity of government.
I just discovered that my son is a chef! He has been slaying with all manner of meals these days. He even served me breakfast in bed
Do you think this lockdown is necessary or should the government explore other means of restraining the spread of COVID-19?
Of course! I quite agree with the government that this is the right step to take.
The lockdown is absolutely necessary to prevent community transmission of the virus.
This is a virus that is unlike other viruses because you don’t have to be in direct contact with an infected person before contracting it.
It could be in the air or on a surface, which is why it is so important for all of us to take precautions and if the main precaution means we stay at home for a couple of weeks to be able to flatten the curve of the virus, so be it.
Government is doing a good job of sensitising and educating the public but this can still be scaled up to benefit citizens at the community level.
I also believe that we should all have access to testing centres in both rural and urban areas.
We should not have to wait until people have the symptoms, before they get tested. There are people that are incubating the virus but who do not have access to testing because they are not yet sick.
Government should also intensify efforts to identify stores that are profiting from the crisis by hiking the prices of masks, gloves and sanitizers at the expense of the people.
I am still trying to understand why we can still go to the markets where it is impossible to practice social distancing during the lockdown.
We all know how we conduct transactions are conducted in our markets and you will agree with me that people will bump into one another, touch surfaces and all of that.
What’s the first thing you would do when this is over?
The first thing I’m going to do when this is all over is to just put my feet in the pool. That’s the first thing I’ll do. Just put my feet in water, close my eyes and think about nothing.