JULIUS MUCUNGUZI: Lest sabotage COVID-19 fight in Uganda



There is a saying; “Nyantahurira akarya eriisho rye,” a Runyankore-Rukiga proverb, which loosely translates to “Mr. Advice-ignorer ate his own eye! This proverb speaks into complacency ideally.

There are reports that over the past weeks some people who were in the category of countries assessed as at high risk peddled or bribed their way through Entebbe airport and refused to be quarantined as per Ministry of Health Guidelines to combat the spread of Coronavirus.

As you may already know, we now have 9 confirmed cases in the country. All the 9 are said to have been to Dubai. There may be many more unconfirmed ones out there who came from Dubai or other destinations.

The oversight of not including Dubai, the global flight connection and connecting hub of the world, especially Africa, among the high-risk destinations/places, was a grave one. It is a costly lesson learnt, that should prompt and alert us to be more thorough in doing a risk assessment.

Now Ministry of Health is calling on all people who travelled to or through Dubai in the last 14 days to voluntarily contact the ministry through the toll-free lines to be tested and rule out the possibility of infection, and if they are found to be positive, to be helped to recover, trace others and prevent further spread.

Minister of Health Jane Ruth Aceng checks the thermal scanner. (PHOTO: File)

If anyone falls in any of the above categories–those who tried to beat the system and bribed or peddled their way through the airport and the specific ones from Dubai: the wise and logical thing to do is to quietly inform the Ministry of Health–for your own good and safety, that of your family and loved ones and safety neighbours, relatives and friends.

You may have heard about these three summarised stories we grew up hearing from our grandparents:

One, of someone who stole an elephant and couldn’t find a place to hide it. COVID–19 is like an elephant. You can’t hide it. Even if you don’t develop symptoms, you are still capable of spreading it.

Second,a story is of an old woman who was warned against keeping a young leopard, but she refused, insisting that it was a small cat–enjangu, kapa, pusi.

Everyone could see that it was a leopard. She kept it in her house. It only could eat meat. When there was no meat, it ate the woman’s hens. When all meaty stuff was finished, it turned on the woman and ate her.

Third, is a Runyankore/Rukiga proverb that: Nyantahurira akarya eriisho rye–that an adamant child who doesn’t heed advice ended up eating his own eye, even against all warnings, insisting that the eye looked yummy and tasty.

If you smuggled through someone through the airport to avoid quarantine, you may have smuggled in a leopard. If you don’t declare it and give it in, it may turn out to eat you, your family and loved ones.

Please declare that leopard to the Ministry of Health today for safe custody.

About the author: Mr Julius Mucunguzi is a communications expert and adviser to the Prime Minister of Uganda

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