By Emmanuel Abanah
It has long been coming; the end of the world! From Biblical times different predictions have referred to a time coming soon when huge catastrophe will befall the world. In more recent depictions of the apocalypse a lot of films made in the late 20th century and all through the 21st century till date have tried to demonstrate to citizens how the world will be destroyed by different things, from diseases to chemical warfare to biological transformations that will turn humans into flesh eating zombies. The apocalypse genre of stories and films has had quite a cult following through the ages. The problem now is that the world is beginning to live the apocalypse and the bigger fear is that almost every prediction of literature in the far past have come to be our normal ways of life up to the immediate past. Has the apocalypse come to stay?
Movies that have depicted the apocalypse in the recent past include Mad Max (2015), World War Z (2013), The Book of Eli (2010), Snowpiercer (2013), I Am Legend (2007), Terminator (1984), Planet of The Apes (1968) and the list can go on and on and on endlessly! Many writers have tried to depict the world before, during and after an apocalypse in many different ways. But one common feature of these end time stories is the need for human beings to protect themselves from something or someone in the environment who is dangerous and can lead to death if they gain access to the human body, an enemy just like Coronavirus!
In Mad Max, the protagonist sometimes wore a mask to protect him from the sand storms prevalent in his world of deserts and dry land against the evil characters who also wore all kinds of medical masks to either prevent them from inhaling oxygen or helped them with the sort of gases they needed to survive. In the Book of Eli, Eli spends more than thirty years wandering across North America most times wearing a mask to protect him from sickness in the air! Most of the characters in that film wore masks especially when outdoors. However, many characters in apocalyptic movies, especially the evil characters, usually wear a mask that hides their true identity or covers some scar or biological defect they may have suffered during the apocalypse, the list endless!
The marriage between masks and the apocalypse had long been coming and in some ways it depicts the fragility of mankind in the face of any disruptions to the natural ecosystems; we must wear masks to prevent us from inhaling diseases just as we must wear a mask to help us inhale oxygen when it is in short supply or it has been contaminated in the atmosphere! The Corona pandemic has brought about a coronary tract infection that is transmitted through the air and contact with other humans or surfaces that are infected. As such, the face mask has become a new normal in our world but the world seems to take all that comes upon it in good strides!
Rather than be bothered about the inconveniences of wearing face masks, the world and Africans in particular are beginning to make the face mask part of our fashion and ways of life. It is becoming an item of social identity and indeed a class marker! All masks are not the same and people can tell how rich or poor or fashionable you are by the kind of mask you choose to wear. Africans are promoting their cultural identities by wearing masks that are made of traditional materials associated with their history and traditions. People will attend events wearing Ashoebi masks, people are already wearing masks associated with their national and state colors as a way of summoning communal unity against the virus. It’s a new way of life in its infancy but is this red herring or a new way we should all be proud of?? Could it be that some faceless people are cajoling the world into a new world order in their selfish interests??
There are quite a number of problems if face masks become law and indeed a way of life; the first bother is the identification of wanted criminals! When a fugitive puts on a pair of shades, tampers with his or her usual haircut and then wears a mask, it may be a hard task to identify such a person by facial means alone. Seasoned criminals will find it much easier to move around and mingle in public in a world where people must wear masks in public places. Imagine everyone in a night club wearing masks; how do you find the killers et al?
Another problem with having face masks as a new way of life is that it could make the world much less bothered about environmental pollution and degradation being that we can all just wear a face mask and we won’t be affected by the pandemic; by the Coronavirus pandemic, by the environmental pandemic, the pandemic of age long habits and practices that are gradually turning the world into a huge sick hole where we may all, sooner or later, find it difficult to inhale oxygen for free as we have done ever before!
But if we think about a masked world the right way that we should then we should be putting up a plan to return the world to its natural state, a state where nobody needs to wear a mask. The world needs to clean up its act! Environmental pollution in massive scale by countries like China and America is putting the health of the world at huge risk. The deadly gasses they release into the atmosphere on a daily basis in the name of technology and manufacturing has changed the way God made the heavens. So the atmosphere we live in is getting sick by the day. What next will happen other than that the inhabitants of earth will cover their noses and their mouths in shame and in sickness until our last days.