As Covid-19 tightens its grip on Lesotho as evidenced by the rapid rise of cases and deaths, it is now more imperative than ever for every member of society, regardless of country of origin, to take it upon themselves to take measures to protect themselves and others from the deadly pandemic.
And this is precisely what almost everyone is doing. Everywhere you go, people are wearing masks because they understand the implications of not doing so.
However, there have been some interesting observations in Maseru. In some Chinese-owned supermarkets, the check-out area is fortified with plastic ‘curtains’ and behind – at the till – is a Chinese national wearing a mask and a face shield. He is also wearing gloves. At a supermarket at Naleli, the Chinese shop owner insists on customers wearing masks. But he is not wearing one himself.
Now, that is enough to raise eyebrows. Does it mean the Chinese believe Basotho are the ones who have Covid-19 and could infect the Chinese?
It prompts one to conclude that the Chinese have a racist attitude towards Basotho. This is as disrespectful as it is insulting. You do not go to Rome and insult the Pope.
Perhaps, the Chinese need to be reminded that Covid-19 originated in their backyard. They manufactured the virus, and we will never forget that. If anything, we are the ones who should be treating them with disdain.
We will never forget that, last year, African expats accused China of a xenophobic response to Covid-19 resurgence fears. Africans in Guangzhou were forcibly evicted from their homes and refused new accommodation. The Africans living in Guangzhou accused Chinese authorities of discrimination after being subjected to compulsory coronavirus testing and a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Just last week, at least three Chinese nationals working at a factory at Ha Thetsane tested positive for the virus, forcing it to be temporarily closed down. This week, reports have emerged that six more Chinese at the same factory have tested positive. Nothing much has been said about the hordes of Basotho who interact with these Chinese on a daily basis, except that they were sent back home.
While, our governments are busy making love with the Chinese government, the pandemic has also revealed a lack of understanding between ordinary Chinese people and Africans.
The Chinese must know that we have more to fear from them than they have from us. As the African proverb goes, when in another’s domicile, show him respect or he will show you no mercy.