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Opinions of Sunday, 27 December 2020

Columnist: Emmanuel

Coronavirus: An opportunity to rebuild society

Through the fight to contain this virus, nations and societies have come together Through the fight to contain this virus, nations and societies have come together

In the 1950s when heart attack was epidemic in the United States, Roseto a town in Pennsylvania was an exception. It was rare to find anyone from Roseto with heart disease. Also the death rate in Roseto from all causes was 30 to 35 percent lower than expected.

One would have thought the dietary practices of the Rosetans would have been a contributory factor to their outstanding health but on the contrary, it was realised that compared to the rest of the country, the Rosetans practiced bad eating habits with 41% of their calories coming from fat coupled with their heavy smoking habit. In fact, the Rosetans were also known to be struggling with obesity.

The secret of Roseto’s good health was found not to be related to diet, exercise, genes or location but rather has to do with a “powerful, protective social structure capable of insulating them from the pressures of the modern world.” Rosetans had a strong community spirit, visiting each other, cooking for one another. Many homes had 3 generations living under one roof and grandparents commanded a great deal of respect.

Growing up in Africa in the early 90s we experienced our own “Roseto” where I saw my neighbours as my brothers and sisters. The elderly in the community had the same right as my parents to punish me when I go wrong. Our fathers shared dinners together and our mothers cooked in each other’s backyard. We lived in a unifying and calming society. The society was healthy because of the world they created for themselves through the bond with other members of the society and as a result, most deaths were related to old age.

These powerful protective societies have been eroded over the years but COVID 19 has granted us another opportunity to rekindle the sense of community and affinity with others. COVID 19 has humbled powerful nations and has aligned the concerns of all humanities.

Through the fight to contain this virus, nations and societies have come together and we have watched out for each other. It is my hope that this togetherness will be sustained even after the end of the adversity.

As the Black Death ended feudalism, so do I expect COVID 19 to renew our community spirit as we enter the New Year. We will rebuild communities where inhabitants will look out for each other.

I wish each and everyone a Merry Christmas and I pray the spirit of Christmas which entails giving, hope, good cheer, love, and goodwill towards mankind will live in our hearts every day of the year.