Nigeria has fared fairly well with the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when compared with its counterparts in other parts of the world and against the backdrop of some worrisome predictions which pegged the country’s shabby public health care system as a potential source of concern.
India, for instance, is battling a terrible resurgence of the pandemic while the UK and others are only just lifting some severe restrictions.
Till date, Nigeria has recorded a little over 2,000 deaths, which for a country of an estimated 180 million people, represents a very good figure. For many, divine providence is one of the reasons that Nigeria has remained fairly immune from the sad tales being told by other countries who have racked up huge casualties since the pandemic began its rampaging run across the globe.
This is so because the Nigerian primary, secondary and tertiary health care systems, as highlighted earlier, fall short of the standards obtain globally. Moreso, the predilection of many to flout basic preventive measures, such as wearing of face masks, observing social distance and improvement of personal hygiene is well known in this part of the world; with many Nigerians attending parties and other gatherings even at the height of the pandemic and the social status of the majority meaning that public transportation systems are often crammed with passengers and open-air markets filled to the brim, with scant regard for the principles of physical distancing.
The foregoing, however, does not mean that we did not suffer some of the ravaging effects of the pandemic. A number of prominent Nigerians, many of them with underlying ailments, lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the efforts of some of the best hospitals in Nigeria and beyond to save them.
Many families also lost loved ones, especially after one or two of their members had the misfortune of contracting the dreaded virus.
The above would have been the fate of my family but we have Konga to thank for seeing us through one of the darkest periods of our life. One Tuesday morning in June 2020, we had woken up to my husband coughing and sneezing heavily. This was in the middle of the government-imposed lockdown. My husband and I, both white-collar professionals, had been taking stringent measures to guard against being infected with COVID-19. At the first hint of trouble, all our kids had been withdrawn from schools and were being home-schooled by their teachers virtually.
Also, my husband and I had started alternating the days we went to the office. Both of us, by virtue of our positions at our respective places of work, could not work from home totally. Therefore, we selected the days on which we went to work, which did not exceed thrice in a week. In addition, we made sure we strictly observed all laid-down measures to prevent infection. We even stopped our official drivers at the time in order to reduce the possibility of contracting the virus from exposure to them. Our home was fumigated and all visitors were barred.
So, when my husband woke up with that recurring cough and sneezes, we dismissed it as a potential case of the common cold. However, when it got worse upon his return from the office that day, we feared the worst. Our fears were confirmed after a couple of days when his test result came back positive for COVID-19. Before then, I had started isolating myself and the kids from him, solely as a preventive measure but that seemed like a measure too late.
After three days, I lost all sense of taste and smell, which had also been identified by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as a symptom of COVID. Consequently, I submitted myself as well as our kids for sampling. Of the family of seven, five of us tested positive to the virus, leaving only two of the kids negative at the time.
It was a shattering discovery and one of the most depressing periods of my life. But we could not keep wallowing in self-pity. We had to take action. Immediately, my husband and I took the decision to protect the two kids who had managed to evade contracting the virus. One of our relatives who resided close by in Lekki had come to pick up the two kids after another round of tests which confirmed their negative status.
The next couple of weeks proved to be arguably the hardest and most nerve-racking I have faced as a mother and caregiver. We had reached out to the NCDC hotline to notify them of our status but we were told at the time that bed spaces at the isolation centres were a bit limited. Consequently, we were given a list of medications to be taken on a daily basis, while being asked to hold on for an update on our evacuation to the isolation centre.
But that was the beginning of our worries.
Barely 24 hours after discovering our positive COVID-19 status, a power surge wreaked havoc in the house, damaging the large TV set in the living room and a few other appliances. Our depression levels went up a notch as the TV set was one of our major sources of keeping up with developments in the outside world.
In view of our status, we could not risk going out to the markets in order to limit the chances of infecting others. Our supplies were running dangerously low, however, and we needed to replenish them. We also needed to get the medications recommended by the NCDC. The youngest member of the family, my two-year-old toddler, also had some special dietary needs and other requirements which we urgently needed to source.
Having being exposed to e-Commerce, my husband and I had reached out to one of the players in the market and explained our plight.
It seemed, however, that informing them of our COVID-19 status was a mistake. We were told by the agent who picked up the call that they would get back to us shortly. It was after we had waited nearly 18 hours without feedback and placed another call – which was dropped abruptly after we repeated our request – that we realized we were in trouble.
At this stage, our little baby was almost down to the last tin of food and his diapers were already exhausted. He had resorted to crying for long hours. For the rest of the family, we were also on the verge of starvation. We could not get a family member or friend to source the items as news of our COVID-19 status had spread and many were keeping their distance from us, as was expected.
My husband and I were confused and at our wit’s end.
Suddenly, my husband had a brain wave and recalled seeing a Konga advert on TV, urging Nigerians to stay safe by observing all laid-down COVID-19 preventive measures. I must confess, at this juncture, that prior to that moment, we had never shopped with Konga, even though a couple of our relatives had often talked up the company and their services.
My husband decided to take a chance and placed a call through to the Konga call centre after checking up the number online. The soothing but professional voice of the call centre representative at the other end of the line was a relief. She listened to our story and proceeded to reassure us that our request would be given special attention. The agent took down our orders which was a fairly long list. There were food supplies, diapers, disinfectants, antibiotics and other items for the baby, while the rest of the family required groceries, a bag of rice, FMCG products, cooking oil, a laptop for one of our kids, the medications recommended for us, as well as a new TV set to replace the damaged one and a UPS. She also took down our address and contact details.
Barely a few minutes afterwards, my husband’s phone rang again.
On the line was a young man who introduced himself as Prince Nnamdi Ekeh, co-CEO of Konga. He had proceeded to empathise with my husband over our condition and promised to personally deliver the items. We were dumbfounded! Even when we pressed to pay online due to the fear of being disappointed a second time, he assured us not to worry, adding that we can pay on delivery.
True to his words, Prince Ekeh called up my husband in the evening at about 6 pm, notifying him that he was at our Ajah residence. Could this be true? We almost fell over ourselves in the rush to get outside. Outside, we saw a young man, fully kitted in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), complete with goggles and gloves, with a Konga-branded vehicle parked on our front porch. We were over the moon with delirium.
While keeping the recommended distance, he proceeded to drop all of the ordered items and handed over a delivery note which we cross-checked. All of the items we ordered were intact and Konga even added a free bottle of hand sanitiser to the items.
Never in my wildest imagination did I expect such quick, thoughtful and professional service from an e-Commerce company led by Nigerians. To cap it all, our needs were delivered by the CEO of the company! A lot of people are quick to write off Nigeria or Nigerians as a good-for-nothing, but I am inspired to share this experience as a way of boldly declaring that right here in this country, there are people and corporate organizations delivering great service.
Before we allowed him leave, my husband, myself and the kids showered prayers on Prince Ekeh and Konga. It is hard for this business not to succeed as it is evident that Konga is blessed already.
Two weeks after that incident, my entire family started feeling better from the effects of the COVID-19. Two rounds of test afterwards, we were all certified negative and returned to our normal lives after welcoming back our two estranged kids.
I have followed the massive strides of Konga in the e-Commerce sector till date and I can see one of the best businesses to emerge out of Nigeria. Even with all that Konga is doing in the market today, I believe more is yet to come. Lest I forget, my entire family and I are loyal customers of Konga and I have also succeeded in converting most of my friends, colleagues and other relatives.
Without Konga, my family and I would have probably been victims of COVID-19. God will continue to lift this great company to bigger heights!
My very civilized man of God advised me to make this testimony public in the appreciation of God’s favours and I am happy I have finally done this. I held back the family’s real name for privacy sake.
Mrs. X, a Chartered Accountant and mother of five, writes from Lagos