Alinah Kelo Segobye is the Dean of Faculty - Human Sciences at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). She holds an honorary research professorship at the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI), at the University of South Africa (UNISA). She is an affiliated Research Scholar at the African Futures Institute (AFI) and the Institute of Economic Research on Innovation (IERI) at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, South Africa. She was a Visiting Scholar at the Rotary Peace Centre, Division of Peace Studies University of Bradford in 2016 and before that taught at TMALI-UNISA. She previously served as Deputy Executive Director at the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa. Her main research and teaching experience has been at the University of Botswana where she was Associate Professor of Archaeology. Segobye has teaching, research and consultancy experience in the areas of African studies, culture; HIV/AIDS; gender and development. Segobye has authored and co-authored several essays and book chapters on Africa’s development. She is an ardent cultural activist and champion of the arts in Africa.
As the world adjusts to the ‘new normal’ in the context of a global pandemic, questions have been asked and indeed addressed how African communities lived through the pandemic. The very tough lock down measures imposed in 2020 were accompanied by immense suffering, repressive police actions and increased reports of gender-based violence. This presentation explores how some of the experiences of the harsh lockdown were captured by communities. The interconnections of memory from lived experiences of the 19th century to more recent times are highlighted especially the ways in which the pandemic led to the reconfiguration of everyday life and interactions. It is noted that some of the traumas experienced over generations are being fabricated into lived experiences of recent and current social stressors such as war, coloniality and pandemics. Pandemic messages including the physical separation, isolation and loss that visits individuals and communities are woven into recovered and recollected memories and are finding expressions in new ways of making meaning and adapting to life during the COVID-19 pandemic. The presentation will draw on the themes of resilience and trauma in exploring how communities have transitioned the pandemic and what lessons can be drawn in building future livelihoods. Some of the notions held dear and deeply rooted as African cultural practice and values have been transformed and altered in ways we need to reflect on whilst appreciating some of the transformations which were already ongoing in the advent of change brought by new technologies. Among other things, the resurgence of online comic relief has brought some respite to what have been very difficult times. It is hoped that these brief reflections can shed some light on how people make adjustments and new meanings when faced with crises including life threatening events such as pandemics. In summary, the presentation will attempt to place the lived experience of African society in a global context and draw on threads of shared human experience to reflect on what key lessons can be drawn out for post-pandemic humanity.