COVID-19: The 1 to 9 Dilemmas facing Africans

The Corona Virus Disease 2019 better known as COVID-19, finally landed in Africa. This is after its debut in China, brief and deadly sojourn in South-Korea, long and professional contract in Europe where it is ravaging Italy, (Almost finishing a whole generation), Spain, Turkey, U.K etc. It flew to Canada and it is currently feasting on the same table with Donald Trump.

Africa was largely virgin, un-touched and barren, for many months it remained a dark content with Utopian and futuristic reasons why the virus was keeping at bay. Tales of superior genetics, ancestral curses finally catching up with colonialists and oppressors, God’s divine protection, China needing an army of slaves after destroying America and Europe were chats online, in parliaments, markets, boardrooms and even bedrooms.

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Epidemics are never far away in Africa

Sierra Leone 2014

Sierra Leone 2014″Have any rats been spotted here?”, Dr. Lendunga asked the residents and pointed to a grove of banana trees and a smelly pool of mud where beer was brewed. He was making his daily inspection tour in the Congolese city of Bunia.

“Yes, a lot,” replied a young woman. A kid dropped his pants and showed me where his glands were swelling. He contracted the plague, at the same time as his brother. Lendunga ordered that the densely built dwellings be sprayed with a flea control agent. But that was all he could do.

That was in 1994. The outbreak of the plague was a sign of the social, economic and political decline of Congo, which was then known as Zaire. Doctor Lendunga had received no medicines, no pesticides and no financial support for an information program run by the government. For eight years he watched helplessly as the disease took on epidemic proportions and culminated in 1994 in the Bunia outbreak. Ninety people died. “In reality, there were many times more deaths,” Dr. Lendunga said, “the cause of death is almost never reported.”

Microbes exist in multiples in Africa. Most people have experienced an epidemic at one time or another. “You can only see the ears of a hippo,” is a saying in Sierra Leone. The viruses and bacteria on the continent, like fungi, parasites and other organisms, are invisible. They hide in the enormous expanse of forests and in animals where these germs feel most at home.

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Another day in a life of a locust

Photography by Joost Bastmeijer

When dawn is still in the distance, the desert locusts hang lethargically in the trees. From a distance it seems as if the trees are covered with a dense layer of yellow flowers. With the first warmth of the sun the feelers of the cold-blooded animals start moving and after an hour they stretch their wings. And then -suddenly- one of them startles, the bunches explode and send thousands and then millions into the air. The sky is strewn, the light is dim. The desert locusts take over the world at Kamuwongo in northeast Kenya.

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