Strange and Difficult Times

Notes on a Global Pandemic


‘We had hoped that we lived in a world that would rally in the face of a common threat. Instead, we found that the collective good is abandoned for the economic and political benefit of a handful of people, and nationalist myths of exceptionalism rob billions of their right to survive.’

In this new collection, Nanjala Nyabola takes stock of the state of the world in a moment of crisis, reflecting on both the historical and the novel injustices that have shaped Covid’s starkly different outcomes between and within countries and communities. From vaccine distribution and mutual aid in the Global South to Western commentary on pandemics in Africa, Nyabola exposes a global society scarred by colonial legacies, nationalist competition and ingrained biases.

These essays are an inventory of the staggering political and social failures of our time, and the myths that can no longer survive in the pandemic’s wake. Watching Covid spread in Kenya and around the world, and offering an international critique of Global North narratives about the South’s experience, Nyabola’s incisive writing reveals harsh truths about where and how the system was broken, and considers the future of our shared post-pandemic world.


Nanjala Nyabola is a writer and political analyst based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her work focuses on structural injustice, the intersection between technology and politics, and migration and human mobility. Her previous collection Travelling While Black, also published by Hurst, was shortlisted for the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year.

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