Effects of Covid-19 in Young People’s Lives #7 / By Shanice Tafadzwa Chinembiri
Over nine thousand nine hundred kilometres from Zimbabwe, the corona virus pandemic started in China, it all seemed so far and relatively out of this world. Not once did it seem possible that this too would affect our reality and forever change life as we know it. In the blink of an eye, it started with the death of a celebrity, Zororo Makamba, a young man with a bright future who had just started to conquer the world having travelled around the globe merely weeks before but quickly his death would be the realization to many Zimbabweans that we were all now at risk and surely there was no certainty if we would make it out alive. In an instant what had seemed so far and unable to affect us was surely now near and right in our faces.
Week five ended with the announcement by His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa that we were now in level two of the lockdown with a further extension of two weeks. This simple declaration sent the entire country into confusion marred with despair and worry for most. What is level two and how will we survive it was surely the question on most minds.
A young girl we shall call Jane watched the state of the nation address on ZBC and in that moment saw all her hopes crushed as she would be imprisoned within the walls of her home for a further 14 days with no indication of whether even after that fortnight she would be set free. A mere nineteen-year-old with no dependents or mouths to feed was completely shattered and you are probably wondering why. She had an entire plan mapped since her life started to fall apart and she fought off the temptation to commit suicide due to the emotional abuse she constantly faced at the hands of her father. “You will never pass or have a future”, her father constantly ridiculed her but she had found solace in being a boarder during high school, far from home and had dedicated her life to proving her father wrong. After so many tears, sleepless nights, hot sweaty days and draining school years, she had achieved her desire to pass so she could leave the country and start her life over, free from the tormenting, bullying ways of her father. University was imminent and she had been accepted to go to one of the best institutions in the United Kingdom, the pieces were falling into place. Now that all seemed like a dream as she realized that would no longer be happening anytime soon and what made it worse was this forced confinement with her father, even more-so now that he was not going to work and barely making ends meet, he was a loaded gun at every moment easily triggered and he had become a heavy weight on Jane’s shoulders. The insults had tripled and at this point he had attempted to beat her up more times than she could count on her fingers but thankfully her brothers had been there to protect her. Her mother was trapped serving in a hospital as one of the senior doctors. She was out there saving lives at the risk of her daughter’s. So, for Jane, a further two weeks felt like a death sentence with literally no sign of any light anywhere at this point.
In an opposite parallel universe, John was sitting under a tree smoking a joint of marijuana with his boys. Drugs at this point were the only luxury he had. He had 4 siblings to take care of as well as his sick mother who at this point may have even had the feared corona virus that most spoke of as she had become very weak and could barely breathe but he knew this was due to her chronic tuberculosis. In his head, he knew he was doomed but at face value he masked all his stress by ignoring the pleas to social distance as he now joked around with his gang. At this point he almost wished he could just get the virus and hopefully have all these responsibilities melt away. At twenty five, he was a conductor and this had been his life since he failed his ordinary level examinations but now he had been out of an income for almost five weeks and did not know where his next bit of money would come from so he could buy basic necessities to keep his family alive. Now all he could do was drown his sorrows by smoking.
Here we see two simple young adults whose stories may seem fit only for a novel but are literally a representation of the effects the corona virus pandemic has had on young people. Instances of emotional abuse, financial pressures, physical abuse and drug abuse have gone rampant and most are unfortunately unreported because people are trapped in the very sources of these problems with no opportunities to take a breather or go to any safe havens to seek solace and unfortunately at the very core of all this, the main victims are the youth. Even education, the priced jewel of our nation has been halted and whilst attempts are being made to provide online alternatives to classes, data costs are a heavy burden so even the escape into the nurturing of young minds has been lost. Social media use has more than doubled and with it so have issues like cyber-bullying, social manipulation, watching pornography, leaking of explicit pictures and videos which results in the deterioration of the mental health of young people.
Corona virus has brought some families together, helped young people discover new talents and skills as well as given most stories to tell their children and grandchildren later in life but it has also permanently scarred many young people and will have extensive dire effects on their future lives.