An Ebola researcher: Most African countries and leaders – except Gambia Yammeh for their part have shut instead the doors on the West African nations hit by Ebola.
THE world is shutting its borders to Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia at such a rate that it looks like there is a medal for the top 20 countries that declare their borders closed. Any airline worth its salt is equally racing for the first slots.
For those in the three countries, it is difficult to tell what they feel. A dilemma between realising that they have the one chance to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the 7 billion inhabitants of the world, or literally, that indeed when in trouble, its everyone for himself and God for us all.
Who would have thought that such a noble cause would be bestowed on three countries that have lived through decades of instability, political uncertainty, civil war, poverty and the worst of global leadership?
You are on your own
If one was to interpret the actions of the countries that have declared their borders shut, it is intriguing in the least. Is the world literally telling Guineans, Sierra Leoneans and Liberians that they can carry on without them? Is the World stating that it is okay for them to die in the hundreds, quarantined in fear and claustrophobic in such vast spaces that it is unfathomable?
Don’t get me wrong but it is hard to imagine that some countries would rather be counted for abandoning the affected nations than be counted amongst those that extended a gloved hand in solidarity for the calamity they are experiencing.
Now for the West that has had trouble in the past detecting tropical diseases like malaria, yellow fever and the rest of the malarial family, one can’t help but sort of understand the panic reaction to Ebola. Even more so, despite having very well illustrated how best to control such a global threat in Contagion, the 2011 medical thriller that starred Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and others. Why are we not using such insightful knowledge in mitigating the frantic reactions of the global citizen?
What is not understandable though is the reaction of African states. Who would have thought that borders as far-removed as South Africa and Kenya would feel a direct threat from passport holders of the three virus-stricken countries.
To add salt to injury, even the immediate countries are having a weird relationship with the affected countries. President Ouattarra of Cote d’Ivoire is said to have categorically refused that the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match between Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire, be held in Abidjan.
Solidarity from Jammeh
This, irrespective of the fact that Cote d’Ivoire shares direct borders with Guinea and Liberia, and that during the hard times, many quickly found refuge in each other’s countries when things got thick. And to think that a good number of refugees found their way to solace on foot! It is almost hilarious to think that this time round, its airports that have the heaviest security and that Ebola nautical miles can be best be measured in parallel to aerial distances. To think that Ebola has not seen its way, on foot, across the borders, is rather difficult to swallow if not foolhardy in the least. It is just a matter of time before a crisis is declared in yet another neighbouring country. There are no many choices.
With the death of Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian civil servant who is reported to have possibly taken the virus to Nigeria, the most populous country on the continent, there is indeed a cause for concern.
But how a whole continent of 54 countries can have no solidarity gesture towards three of its own, is nothing but appalling. Save for, of course, Gambian’s President Yahyah Jammeh who after making the headlines for all the wrong reasons has offered Sierra Leone $500,000.