Stories From Around The World

COVID-19 Chronicles

Khalid Abdullahi

October 2021


With COVID-19, we’ve made it to the life raft. Dry land is far away

    Marc Lipsitch

Music has the power to change lives. Music can uplift souls. Music can forge the strongest of bonds between all peoples of the world. Victor Uko, a rising Nigerian artist, understood this from a very tender age.

Music had been a part of Victor ever since he could walk. He sang in the choir long before he thought he would one day pursue a career as an artist.

Victor’s earliest memories were filled with fond images of his mother holding him and slow dancing with him to timeless hits by icons like Marc Anthony and Phil Collins.

It’s been over thirty years since Victor danced with his mother, and in that time, his love and passion for music have only grown to unprecedented heights.

He’s a musician now. And even though he perpetually invests blood and sweat in making his mark on the music industry, Victor is still not where he wants to be-not yet.

His name and achievements can’t be ranked with other African greats like Wizkid, Burna Boy, or Diamond Platnumz. But Victor was a firm believer in his capabilities. He knew it was only a matter of time before he got his moment.

So, the last thing he expected was that a tenacious virus would stain the world and upset plans he worked so hard to put into motion.

When COVID-19 bore through the world, Victor was beset by financial and emotional struggles like almost every rising artist. So what was it like to be an artist in a pandemic?



  • What Are the Challenges You’ve Faced Because of COVID-19 as an Artist?

“Well, for me, the fear of the virus was more potent than what many others felt. I say this because people were afraid of contracting the virus and what it could do to them, but I already fell victim to it.

I contracted COVID-19, which stopped any tours I planned to go on and compelled me to cancel any gigs I had at clubs or entertainment centers. But that wasn’t the worst of it.

Life wouldn’t have been as bad as now, but I also gave my then-pregnant fiancée the virus, and she lost our unborn child. That happened around March 2021, which was also the month I was supposed to release my EP.

Even though we both survived the virus, we’re not together anymore. My fiancée couldn’t forgive me for what happened, and I respect her decision. I try not to think about it because the family I often saw in my head will now never come to be.

Going back to my EP, despite all the time, effort, money, and resources I exhausted to promote it, the EP couldn’t be released. As an aspiring artist, if you don’t promote, you can’t make your money back or see your investment flourish. I fervently hoped that EP would be my big break, but c’est la vie.”


  • What Has Been Your Biggest Setback as a Budding Artist?

“Like the majority of my peers, lack of finance is what keeps holding me back. However, I understand that people are struggling in the COVID-19 era, and artists are no exception.

Before the virus, I did make a steady income from live performances. But social distancing protocols have put an end to that. Many of the clubs I performed in don’t even open, let alone hope they’ll call me to entertain their few patrons.

I do have a day job, and though it doesn’t pay as much as my gigs did before the virus, I’m grateful for it. That’s what I used to take care of myself and my family. But many of my peers were not so fortunate.

Most of them solely relied on music as their livelihood, and now that people have more important things like their health to worry about, there’s no one there to hear them play and pay them.

I don’t have a label, and nor am I signed on to anybody yet. Even before COVID-19, that was one of the biggest challenges for aspiring artists in Nigeria.

But now, with the virus still looming over us, people are more concerned about keeping their jobs and feeding their families and less about signing a rising talent in the music industry.

I’m a solo artist who’s trying to realize his dream, but that also means I have to do everything myself.

In a way, I welcome these challenges because I don’t expect to see success without putting in the effort. To quote the late Vince Lombardi Jr., ‘The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work.’

And yet, if all the hard work will amount to nothing because of COVID-19, is it worth it? I’ve asked myself that question too many times than I care to recall.”


  • If You Had the Power to Do One Thing to See Your Career Grow, What Would That Thing Be?

“I don’t think I can say anything here that you’ve not heard of before. Finding a PR team that believes in you is one of the prime goals of any aspiring artist like me.

I hope to meet a group of individuals who’ll help me reach my potential. I want to sit and talk with professionals who’ll invest their time and resources and sponsor me because they foresee great things for everyone involved.

I know these are just dreams. But every unsung artist yearns for these things, and I’m no different. But I do believe I’m different in many ways too. I know I have the talent, drive, passion, and zeal to make it big in this industry, helping whoever I can along the way to realize their dreams too.

If anything, I hope to be a beacon of inspiration for others who are in the same dark place I am now. I just need a group of people to trust what I do and see the good that can come out of it, then help me breathe life into those elusive dreams.

That’s all I ever wanted and all I’ll ever need. There are over 200 notable musicians in Nigeria, and one day, I hope to be ranked in that number too.”



Victor Uko may not be the only Nigerian artist, or artist of any nationality, to harbor such dreams, but there’s little doubt here that COVID-19 is a bane to his efforts and success.

Rising from an unknown artist with six people attending your shows to a music legend selling out shows is no easy feat; it’s not for the faint-hearted.

And yet, we’ve seen others do it, so it’s well within the realms of possibility. The only difference now is that COVID-19 is a force to reckon with.

It has slowed artists down in their tracks, but one sure fact is this. The virus is temporary; dreams of success are forever.

No artist should despair. This storm will pass, and before them will be a bright and brand new day. New hurdles will rise before them but so will new opportunities. The only thing they need to do is give their all, and fate will handle the rest.



Stories From Around The World

COVID-19 Chronicles

Andrew Alnghayoui

September 2021


Sports In Lebanon During Covid

It has been a while since the start of the covid pandemic and since sporting events were as always, packed with passionate fans. Sports fanatics who had to settle for the past 20 months to watching their favorite events on TV, are starting to gradually make their way back into stadiums. In Lebanon however, the situation is more complicated.

Sports events have been played behind closed doors to the public for almost two years now. Even the most popular sports events and tournaments such as the Olympics and the UEFA Euro 2020 which were postponed to 2021, were played with limited to no fans allowed in the stadiums. As the fans start to make their way back in European football, football in Lebanon is still being played behind closed doors.

In Lebanon, Football and Basketball are by far the two most popular sports with a huge gap above all others. In football, fans have not been allowed inside stadiums since the league returned to action.  Just like in other countries, teams have been affected financially and players morally by the absence of fans in stadiums. “It’s not the same to play a home match without fans” stated Coach Daniel Gimenez, former Analyst at AFC Cup 2019 Champions Al-Ahed and current Assistant Coach at Al-Nejmeh, “it’s not the same having 5000 fans in the stadium cheering for you compared to possibly 50 people watching from home.”

Lebanon hasn’t suffered only from the pandemic as there were already ongoing protests in different cities across the country as it suffers the worst economic crisis of its history. The Lebanese pound lost more than 10 times its value as people are looking for a way to earn foreign currencies or work abroad in order to send money to their families back home. Moreover, the country is going through fuel and electricity crisis and shortage which also doesn’t facilitate watching football on TV.

Loyal football fans had always made their way to stadiums in Lebanon and cheered for their clubs even if they weren’t large in numbers, they surely cheered with passion. “The fans can’t wait to come back to the stadiums, and sometimes we can see few of them around the stadiums when we have a match,” said Daniel.

During the pandemic, fans have been spotted outside some stadiums, greeting and cheering for their players before and after their matches. In Jounieh, fans were found sitting on the side of the road, on the bridge that passes above the highway, where they have a view of the matches without being physically inside the stadium, despite the country being on a supposedly strict lockdown.

For most those loyal fans though, watching football became a home activity, much like everything else since the pandemic. Surely one can think of many advantages of watching a match from home compared to doing so from the stands, so the question is will the fans get used to watching from home and refrain from going back to stadiums or do they miss it enough to go crazy the next time they cheer from close range?

Watching on TV saves money, fuel and effort during a crisis where the Lebanese people have got a lot more to think about than football one might think. You can also watch in your living room, at your comfort, cheer in any way you like and benefit from highlights, replays and a commentator. For those who like to focus on match details and analyze performances, watching on TV is a much better experience.

However, there is no experience like watching a live match inside the stadium especially for loyal fans who feel like they have a responsibility towards their teams since their performance from the stands also counts for a lot.

With that being said, it is feared that most people are not even able to watch from home in Lebanon. The crisis and shortage in electricity has made it really difficult for the fans. The Lebanese Football Association have to schedule the matches in the afternoon to be able to play in the daylight – to save electricity cost for the stadiums – and the matches scheduled in the afternoon come at a time where electricity is off in most Lebanese cities, which makes life difficult for football fans. Gimenez expressed his concerns in this regard as well: “Sure they miss being in the stadiums and the crisis is not helping because they are cutting even the generators many hours during the day, so how will the people watch the match even on tv?”

It is also feared that the fans will not come back to the stadiums when they get the green light, “I really doubt that they will have the same interest or passion for football as before. It is getting more and more complicated and it doesn’t help the growth of football in Lebanon.”

Until now, fans are still not allowed inside the stadiums, and the overall situation in the country is worrying but the fanatics remain hopeful for things to get better in the future.