Kenya marks the 57th Madaraka Day amid unprecedented gloom.
It will be a national day with a marked difference, celebrated without fanfare: no public event, celebrations or merrymaking. All public venues will remain closed.
The razzmatazz associated with national celebrations have been shelved, in line with containment measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
President Uhuru Kenyatta will only give a televised address to the nation from State House.
Expectations are high that he should use the opportunity to give direction on what the government intends to do to ease the restrictions and, importantly, pronounce recovery strategies after months of lockdown that have virtually brought the economy to its knees.
Since the country recorded the first Covid-19 infection in March, the government has imposed several controls, including a dusk-to-dawn curfew, partial lockdown in some counties and travel restrictions.
Health officials argue that the containment measures have slowed infections, which stand at 1,962. Recent weeks have seen astronomically higher numbers, which are attributed to intensified mass testing and surveillance.
The implication is that transmission has gone local. More infections are expected in the coming two months and that should compel the government to enhance capacity to deal with the pandemic.
But the immediate point of conversation here is the status of the nation. The coronavirus has dealt a severe blow to the national development agenda.
It’s not only a health problem, but also economic, social and political. It traverses all sectors. The pandemic has ravaged the national as well as global economies.
The initial projections of economic growth have been revised downwards. The consequent economic suppression has led to massive job losses and fallen incomes for corporate bodies.
Productivity has plummeted as employers resort to cost-saving tactics. Most employees have been forced to work from home and leverage on technology for work delivery.
Notably, job and income losses have caused misery at the household level. And the world and the nation are yet to see the worst of the crisis.
All in all, the country is staring at drastic changes in the economy as well as politics and other social sectors.
It is incumbent on the government to socialise the public to the new reality. President Kenyatta must give us hope.
Today accords him the chance to spell out the recovery plan. Besides economic stimulus packages so far announced, more has to be done.
In his recent public address, the Head of State stated that the lockdown cannot continue forever. The time to ease the restrictions is now.