Barakoa (Masks) During COVID-19: Malevolent Pathogens and Pandemic Responses in Kenya After 600 Days


Stephen M. Magu, PhD – Assistant Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, Norfolk State University, Norfolk, VA, USA

Series: Public Health in the 21st Century
BISAC: POL053000; MED078000

On 2nd November, 2021, Kenya marked 600 days since the first COVID-19 case was identified and diagnosed in the country, ‘imported’ by a returning traveler from the US by way of London, UK. Since then, Kenya progressively took steps and implemented strategies at the individual, governmental, public health, societal and international levels to combat the pandemic. Some of the strategies mirrored those adopted elsewhere: curfews, lockdowns, masking, social-distancing, closure of high-contact areas such as educational and religious institutions, and political activity, banned by the government but still widely practised. This book examines the trajectory of COVID-19 in the country, the various responses that the government and the public have undertaken, how socio-cultural, political and religious beliefs and practices have affected contagion and constrained stopping its spread and assesses the impact of the pandemic on different constituencies. It focuses on the peculiar circumstances of the Kenyan society, such as high dependence on public transportation, religious affiliation, boarding educational institutions and political rallies in the context of the 2022 general elections in August 2022, and the superficiality of the responses. It also examines the progress and the setbacks that have manifested as a result of the gendered nature of the pandemic, work and societal beliefs, practices and strategies. This book illustrates one of the most peculiar habits adopted by Kenyans: the government mandated masks, but Kenyans, either disbelieving their effectiveness or unconcerned with the pandemic’s seriousness, took to hanging a mask around the chin only so as to comply with the rules (and not potentially part with a bribe if caught by the police without a mask), or borrowing masks from others at the sight of police. The book also highlights the challenges of a vaccine-skeptic public and overreactions by government, implementing very little testing and requiring vaccinations in order for citizens to access government services, despite the availability being marginal.

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Table of Contents




Chapter 1. Kenyan Government COVID-19 Administrative Responses and Strategies

Chapter 2. Public Health Responses and Strategies: Basic Hygiene Responses

Chapter 3. Public Health Strategies: Epidemiological Responses

Chapter 4. Government Institutional and Administrative Responses and Reactions

Chapter 5. Economic Impacts, Governance Implications and Educational Outcomes

Chapter 6. Socio-Cultural Traditions, Religious Observances and Community Responses

Chapter 7. COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies, Implications and Outcomes




Author’s ORCID iD

Stephen M. Magu 0000-0003-3572-3367

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