Posted on Jun 01, 2020
Just before I grabbed my pen to write you this letter,  I was looking at my calendar of planned events for this Rotary year.  The District Governor's itinerary, carefully planned, all the programmes,  official visits, seminars, fundraisers,  everything, from 1st of July 2019 to the end of June 2020. All detailed, with dates, and even times!  And I sighed.  Man proposes, God disposes!
My District Conference should have ended yesterday, and I was to fly off to the Rotary International Convention in Honolulu on the 3rd of June.    Delta Airlines.  Lagos  - Atlanta  -  Los Angeles  -  Honolulu.  The Convention was billed for the 6th to the 10th of June,  perfect for me to celebrate my birthday on the 8th.   My son, Adebola, who is a Systems Engineer with Apple, in the Silicon Valley in California,  was planning big.  The party was to be on a huge yacht,  named 'The Majestic', with a  capacity of 200 on 3 decks,  2 air-conditioned lower decks, and open top deck with a panoramic view.  A four-hour cruise on the Hawaiian seas, a glorious roundup to wonderful year.  But, Man proposes,  God disposes.
Then, out of the blues, Coronavirus struck, and all hell broke loose.  Everything changed.   Everyone was scrambling for cover.  We started with rescheduling planned events, then  indefinite postponements, eventually outright cancellations.
After the shock settled, the salvage operations began, to reload everything, now in Virtual mode.  From fellowship meetings, to committee meetings, training seminars, even now, the District Conference and the ultimate, the Rotary International Convention. Virtual mode is now the Real mode. Who would have thought of this six months ago?   Man proposes,  God disposes.
Here we are,  in various phases of a lockdown, with no clear end in sight. The view is through a dark long tunnel,  with only a dim light at the end of it.   I wish the light was brighter, because, one can hardly make any plans more than a few weeks ahead.  So much uncertainty. But something is certain.  Man proposes, God disposes.
Some of the changes the Covid-19 pandemic has thrust on us may be with us for a long time.  A very long time.  But I miss life before Corona.  I miss the handshake.  The hug.  The smile.   You see, facial expressions are basic cues of social interaction in any human setting.   I catch myself sometimes smiling at someone, or for a photograph, with a mask on!  It feels weird.  And when is this going to end?  Man proposes,  God disposes.
I  wrote an article recently that I now believe that I am having a condition I labelled 'Coronavirus fatigue'. And I think I am not alone. I am sure we are many.  All the daily stream of horror stories and doomsday prophecies we get in the news.  On paper, on TV, and online. You feel the end of the world is 'at hand', as they say.   Mass deaths, in the millions were predicted, unless draconian measures were introduced.   Thank God we have not seen any of it
And I am getting fatigued.
But in my calmer moments, in the solitude of my room, I wonder if the treatment we are prescribing for this Covid-19 crisis, is not worse than the disease. 
We are now in the fourth month of the lockdown, and we are already seeing collapsed businesses, bankruptcies, and lost jobs that may never come back.   With everywhere consumed with the fear of Covid-19, I hope our political leaders can balance the need to protect lives and the need to protect livelihoods.
Watch out for depressions, mental breakdowns and suicides in the months and  years ahead.  With a large chunk of the population already stressed out by the challenges in our society, this will just push some beyond their coping capabilities. Even for the 'well-to-do', the loss of dignity, the inability to provide for your family, adjustment to a lower standard of living, may be too much for some.
But what should we be doing as Rotarians?
The first and most important is to protect ourselves and our families. Follow all the advisories and take good care of yourselves.  While we try to keep the virus at bay, my gut feeling is that eventually, everybody will catch this thing.  We cannot run away from germs.  They have been around us since the beginning of time.  And they are not going away.  We cannot 'sanitize' our way out of this crisis.  We need to also prepare ourselves.  Eat healthy,  exercise, a lot of outdoor activities, all will help to boost your immunity and help you handle it when (not if) the virus comes knocking. 
The vulnerable, (the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions) should go the extra mile.  This is not the time to visit or take visits from grandchildren or attend that neighbourhood meeting.   Be careful with large gatherings,  especially in enclosed indoor spaces.  Still take time for outdoor exercise, it keeps you fit and gives some extra vitamin D too. 
While you are keeping safe,  keep the Rotary spirit alive.  Logon to your club's Zoom meetings.  Visit other clubs.  It's so easy now, that everything is online.  I found myself recently attending 5 different meetings in 3 different continents within hours of each other.  The core Rotary experience,  the fellowship meeting, is going through a revolution,  and Rotary is never going to be the same again.  And I am happy to have been part of it. There was a joke on our African District Governors' forum, that we will be the last of the generation of DGs in the age of Rotary BC (Before Corona)   I am sure Rotary, after Corona, will even be more exciting.
We are making sure that District 9110 is at the forefront of the virtual rescue of the Rotary experience.  Since I cancelled the District Conference,  the members of the Conference Committee have been at work.  We are coming out with a Virtual District Conference.  Scheduled for the 12th and 13th of June, it promises to give you everything you always looked forward to in a Conference.  The opening ceremony, plenary sessions, guest speakers, breakout sessions,  house of friendship, and,  wait for it, a gala night!!!  Keep those two days free. Thank God,  June 12th will be a public holiday.   Just make sure your internet connection is good, Wi-Fi or just phone data, and leave the rest to us. 
Please register on the Conference portal.  The details will be circulated on all District platforms later today, 1st, or tomorrow. Registration is free. Please make sure you are on the list of registered attendees.
I am not superstitious, but have you noticed the similarities between the Coronavirus particle and this year's theme logo?  When someone pointed it out to me, it felt weird.  But don't you worry. While  Coronavirus wants to disconnect the world, Rotary will continue to Connect the World.  We are people of action.  Rotary has survived worse trials and tribulations.  We will come out stronger when this is all over. 
Let's say it loud and clear, let the whole world know  -    Now more than ever, Rotary Connects the World.
With my sincere regards.