Schools are about to resume, many parents will be unable to pay the fees. Many are right now not sleeping well at night. There is perhaps an increase in the sale and consumption of blood pressure tablets. Same as the rate of disagreement between spouses. The frustration is palpable. Suicide notes are already making headlines. Long-suffering parents trying to give their children the best suddenly feeling inadequate and unable to meet up with all the pressure. The monthly shopping budget now buys less than half of what it normally does. Yet the demand is rising. It doesn’t matter your social class, it’s an experience that cuts across board.
A child somewhere is about to drop out of school. Many more will not resume along with others or will have to be sent home sometime before the exams. Nothing can be more damaging to a child’s self-esteem. Even more, some are being withdrawn from schools abroad and planted in schools in Nigeria. And some others have been withdrawn from schools in-country and moved to ‘more affordable’ ones. For some others still, the dreams of starting school this October has just been deferred. The uncertainty looms large.
The slices of bread at breakfast has been reducing. For some, it has disappeared. Butter, jam and mayonnaise are long forgone. Rice. Did you say rice? It has for some, gone from a Sunday, Sunday delicacy to a once in a long while menu item. Who can afford rice these days? Millions are not sure of their next meal. Children are on the verge of becoming malnourished. No, I don’t mean those in IDP camps. That one is already a disaster. Immunity levels are dropping. Hitherto quiet diseases are awakening, aided by dropping hygiene levels. Brief illness, that known killer, is staging a comeback. It’s time to display its prowess.
We are cutting down and cutting down and cutting down. Start-ups are closing shop. Big companies are closing down. Multinationals are packing and leaving. It’s not even a joke. Go to the malls and see empty shops. No one is coming to rent. Old tenants can no longer pay. Entrepreneurs are watching their dreams turn into nightmare. Investors watch as years of built up value turn to ashes in their hands. It is not a pleasant taste. No. It is the kind that forces on you certain actions you will rather not think about as a business owner. Actions like debt renegotiation and unpalatable cost cutting measures. Like downsizing, right-sizing and bankruptcy declaration.
Jobs. Oh, those precious things that were hard to find even in the best of times. Now they are being lost like it is going out of fashion. Some of those who still have theirs are just turning up with their staff IDs around their shrinking necks for the pleasure of it. Many months of salaries already being owed. Many more months to be owed. Some others have accepted a ‘short sleeving’ of their take home. A pay that can no longer take them home. The labour market remains saturated. Skilled. Semi-Skilled. Unskilled. Nobody is employing. What do we do?
Consciences are being remade. Deadened. Otherwise good guys are pushed to become what they are not. Against the wall, not sure of what to do, the wrong ideas are taking over, building tents where bright ideas used to reside. The smart ones are signing up for Yahoo plus. The strong ones are picking the guns and becoming nocturnal. The gritty are breaking oil pipes and claiming to be freedom fighters. Others still are boarding flights for a career in Italy or Portugal, selling sex. Anything to bring some change into the pocket and food on the table. Something to make it feel easier. To make this nightmare pass quickly.
Checking out is becoming the anthem again. The privileged, many who only braved it back home in the last five years, with all colours of passports and Visas to their name are sneaking back out. Those with plans to return are cancelling it. There goes all the hymns and sermons by our leaders to the Diaspora about returning home, all these years. But not everyone has the luxury of bouncing out through the airports. Many more are taking their destinies in their hands and braving it through the deserts with nothing but the dreams of a better life across the Mediterranean. Many end up as food for fishes. Others in unmarked graves. Those who succeed have their faith renewed in the ‘miracle working God’
So please don’t tell me recession is just a word madam. No. It is not. The above is what recession is in black and white. Not fiction. Not economic jargon. Not politics. This is what it really means for a majority of the people. So stop trying to apply makeup to it or deodorise dog poop. It is nauseating really. Now is the time to sit up and get to work. It’s not so difficult for a recession to become a depression.
First published here on 6 Sept 2016