By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
John: I am worried by all the bad news flying around the place!
Professor: What bad news?
Bashir: Don’t you read the newspapers or follow social media posts?
John: Death everywhere. COVID-19 related deaths. See the number of deaths in America!
Bashir: And Italy, Spain, and the UK! In Lagos too!
Professor: Is death bad news?
John: Excuse me professor! Is death good news?
Musa: Don’t think you are in a Philosophy class where you bamboozle lazy students with abstract ideas! This is life!
Professor: Death is neither good news nor bad news. Death is death. Period.
Bashir: Death is part of life. Sure to happen to any and every human being. But it is not good at all when families lose more than one person in a week or in a month.
John: I am just praying for God to intervene and stop the disease!
Professor: Which God do you have in mind? The God whom religionists have created and exploited or the real God?
John: God is God!
Bashir: Yes! God is God!
Professor: God is God. True. But not as you present him. Are you referring to the God you all conveniently forget during the week and remember only on Friday afternoon and Sunday morning? Why should he take you seriously?
John: I don’t think I want to continue this conversation. It will lead nowhere!
Professor: A good defence. Good, good, defence! Running away once the topic does not follow your image of God.
Bashir: What do you mean?
Professor: The God I know does not have time for you guys anymore. Why should he bother himself with a disease which you brought on yourself?
John: Did we bring the disease upon ourselves?
Professor: Of course, yes! When humanity began monkeying with nature in Wuhan, what did you expect?
Bashir: You have a point professor! Perhaps COVID-19 is sent by God to punish us and bring us back to Him.
John: God is not that unkind. He may have allowed it to shake us a bit. We were wandering too far from Him anyway.
Professor: Absolute rubbish. Where is God right now?
Bashir: What do you mean?
Professor: Why should God send or allow a disease to kill His children?
John: The ways of God are different from ours. His thoughts are higher than ours. So, let us not equate God’s ways with human wisdom.
Professor: Sure. His thoughts are higher. If you guys are so faithful to God, why do you hide all information about those who died of the disease?
Bashir: How do you mean?
John: I understand him. Let me explain…
Professor: Why don’t you say to friends and family that Mr X or Ms. B died of COVID-19? Is it a taboo?
John: Look here! We are in Africa. We do not wash our dirty linen in public!
Professor: Is death by COVID-19 dirty? What makes it dirty?
Bashir: We let the dead stay in peace.
Professor: Pure ignorance. When a person succumbs to the disease, announce it to the world. I remember a senior professor Minister of Health who boldly announced to the world that his artiste brother died of AIDS. He said that the public needed to know to warn youths about living recklessly!
John: So, if a relation dies of COVID-19, we should announce to the whole world and let them laugh…!
Professor: Laugh? Did you say laugh at you? Whoever laughs at anybody about death? Death visits every home, everybody. It is turn by turn!
Bashir: We are not even sure of the disease. We cannot say that anyone who dies now died of COVID-19!
John: True because we are not doing enough testing.
Professor: Are we doing testing at all. But that is not the main point. I am saying that families treat COVID-19 like a taboo. They tend to equate it with AIDS or something that one brought on oneself. It is not correct!
Bashir: Ignorance is indeed a problem. But in my own case o, I believe people should be told that so-and-so died of the disease one it is confirmed.
Professor: Correct. That way, people would believe that the disease is real. There are too many people who think coronavirus is a big man’s disease if it exists at all!
John: But see the show all the big men make out of it and how much money is being channelled into the COVID-19 fight. Yet we don’t see anything on the ground to show for it.
Bashir: That is another point. See the way they shared billions at NDDC in the name of COVID-19! It has become a money-spinning machine! God save us!
Professor: It is this scepticism that will be our undoing! God has taken a rest from our affairs! Just leave Him out of the quagmire which we have created!
Bashir: True! God is not a God of corruption!
John: I agree. But God has not abandoned us; He has not abandoned humanity. There are more good people than bad people in the country. For the sake of these good ones, God will not abandon us.
Bashir: God is there for those who call on Him. He is all Merciful, compassionate, and kind even to repentant sinners!
Professor: God has given us enough sense and knowledge to tackle the challenges of our environment. He is not going to intervene and rescue us from our foolishness!
John: I am very sure you do not believe in miracles!
Professor: Miracles? Chance occurrence! We are no longer in the age of miracles. Science rules the world. When we discover the vaccine to rid us of coronavirus then we would say it’s a miracle. It has nothing to do with a ‘great god coming from the sky to change everything’. We are our own gods!
John: What did the good book say? Too much learning has made you mad!
Musa: Faith can move mountains!
Professor: If real miracles exist why have the pastors and imams not healed or the victims of coronavirus?
John: Bye! Bye!
Musa: I won’t stand here and hear you blaspheme!
-Professor Eghagha who writes from the University of Lagos can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org