I AM AFRICAN. NOT EBOLA
I believe that we have all heard this thing called Ebola. Do we really know much or understand the disease? Since the outbreak in West Africa (Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia) early this year, every time I now hear of Africa is because of Ebola. Before Africa used to be in the news because of famine, wars or terrorist groups but I guess the world media has found a more and exciting news, Ebola. I am not against media breaking news about Ebola but I’m against them not giving much information to the public. They are only causing panic about every single case and Africans who are travelling abroad. Have you heard about the Ghanaian student who was arrested and humiliated in Czech Republic for fear of Ebola? Ghana has not even been in the news as one of the countries with outbreak and I blame this for the media’s lack of knowledge about the disease and properly educating people. Most world media have labeled Africa as Ebola. I AM AFRICAN. NOT EBOLA “A Ghanaian student in Czech Republic arrested, forced into a suffocating black polythene bag, wheeled away in a trolley and dumped into a bus has tested negative for ebola, the Ghana Mission in the Czech Republic has confirmed.” (Gadugah, 2014)
Before I continue, let us go back in history and learn more about Ebola and where it came from. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) “The Ebola virus causes an acute, serious illness which is often fatal if untreated. Ebola virus disease (EVD) first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, one in Nzara, Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter occurred in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.” (Organization, 2014). Now that we know the origin of Ebola, the next question might be, how is it transmitted? “Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.” (Organization, 2014)
Few weeks ago there were reports that Ebola cases were detected in Senegal and Nigeria, but these two countries managed to get the virus under control. Senegal and Nigeria are now Ebola free. There were also cases and deaths in DRC but since early this month, there have not been any new cases reported and DRC hoped to declare soon Ebola free. As we can see, nations are reporting great news in successfully handling Ebola. As I speak, thousands of people have been affected and died in Guinea, Sierra Leona and Liberia. But these are not the only countries which are affected. The whole of Africa is affected in different ways as many people outside are reported to be cancelling plans to visit Africa, the economy of those 3 respective countries has taken a down fall, and once again Africa’s image has been destroyed. There was a time for the famous slogan “Africa Rising” but what will we say now? Africa Falling? Before the Ebola outbreak, Africans were more hopeful and optimistic about the future than ever before. Yes indeed Africa is still rising, but we first have to take care of Ebola. We have come very far with colonization, civil wars and famine among other issues to let Ebola stand in our way of RISING. We are Warriors, Survivors and with determination, nothing can stand in our way of achieving greatness. The African DNA is very strong and soon this deadly disease will pass, but we have to do it with solidarity.
My people at home and in the diaspora are deeply affected with stigmas and false perceptions. There are many stories throughout the internet about personal stories such as that of Ghana student. For example, when Sierra Leona football team played to qualify for Africa Cup few weeks ago, there were humiliated and were the subject of discrimination because of Ebola. “It’s really difficult, it hurts. Most of us are not living in Sierra Leone at the moment, but we have family there so this outbreak is a very personal issue. It is probably one of the most painful experiences that I’ve gone through as a footballer.” (Africa, 2014). I hereby call onto Africans to stand by each other’s sides and fight this disease together instead of discriminating. Ebola does not discriminate and if we do not wake up, we will all go down. If we are not careful, Ebola will break us apart and Africans will be the laughing stocks of the world. We are all from the Motherland and it doesn’t matter whether it is East, West, South, North or Central Africa. I am only aware of one Africa and that is how the world knows us too. When a friend in the diaspora heard that I am writing this article, here’s what she had to say, “…what we as Africans are going through is tough!! Teachers aren’t accepting us in class, we can’t get into buses and being in public is dangerous! #scaredtodeath!!” (McNdinda, 2014)
The stigma about Ebola is not happening only in the diaspora, but also back home among fellow Africans. We will lose the fight if we continue this way. What happened to Ubuntu, humanity? It is time that we come together and join force in making awareness and letting those in Guinea, Sierra Leona and Liberia know that they are not only. And to those countries which are closing their borders and making general conclusion, what if tomorrow is you who are affected? Will you expect the world to have it borders open and come help you? Do onto others as you would like to be done for you. Dear world; the whole of West Africa does not have Ebola and neither does whole of Africa. Few days ago Dominica cancelled out on Nigerian band because of fear of Ebola. I am guesting Dominica missed out on the news that Nigeria is now Ebola free. And just because there is Ebola in the country that does not mean the whole population is affected.
I stand here before you today as a PROUD AFRICAN. I AM AFRICA. NOT EBOLA and I stand tall with my people in Africa and the diaspora to fight and make awareness against this deadly disease. I don’t know about my fellow Africans everywhere, but I have an image to protect. I take it upon myself to educate people about the beauty and glamorous of Africa because we are more than the diseases and famine that the world famously knows us for. Africa is rising, but we just have to get through this before we can continue with our path of fighting and enhancing the lives of all Africans for a better and promising future. Ebola is not just an African issue and people should care more instead of having their own perceptions and discriminating against Africans. Many people are surviving through this disease and some countries have reported Ebola free. With the help of fellow Africans and the world, I am optimistic that the remaining countries will also soon declare Ebola free. There is great strength in unity.
Love, Peace & Unity
One People, One Africa, One Love
Gerard Mutabazi Amani
Africa, F. (2014, 10 15). SIERRA LEONE FOOTBALL TEAM SUBJECTED TO EBOLA DISCRIMINATION, HUMILATION DURING AFRICA CUP. Retrieved from Face2Face Africa : https://face2faceafrica.com/article/sierra-stars-ebola-discrimination#.VEVLAPmjOG4
Gadugah, N. (2014, 10 14). News . Retrieved from My Joy Online: http://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2014/October-14th/arrested-and-humiliated-for-ebola-tested-positive-for-cold-story-of-ghanaian-student-in-czech-republic.php
McNdinda, C. D. (2014, 10 20). Ebola . (G. M. Amani, Interviewer)
Organization, W. H. (2014, 09). Media Centre . Retrieved from World Health Organization : http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/