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Ebola, Africa—threats and innovation

By Franklin Johnston

 Africa, the cradle of mankind, is the stewpot of creation, and every so often it throws up some wild thing. The Ebola virus is the latest.

The Ebola crisis highlights Africa’s weakness. Innovation in Africa is behind Europe, Asia or America. Africa’s needs are already invented by others, the elites can buy them and survival innovation is not in its DNA. Its survival was not a robust science-based military or technology response to threats. Europe’s tribes faced threats and responded by an arms race—chemical, physical, biolo­gical to produce offensive and defensive tools; Africa’s response? “We can breed faster than they can kill us!”

New World industrial slavery was a threat, but Africa did not innovate to repel slavers and joined Arabs, Europe even to this day. The Arabs as the first foreign African slavers are a good mark for reparations. They now have an abundance of riches they did not work for, so they may be sympathetic to our cause. Cash pot!

HIV/AIDS emerged from the African cauldron. The church said it’s God’s punishment for fornication and sodomy. The anarchists said it’s the military/industrial complex wish to kill us. The scientists said it’s the work of monkeys—leave their habitats alone and be safe. The racists said it’s designed to kill blacks. The conspi­racy theorists said Washington has the antidote and “Big Pharma” will sell it at the right time and make billions. Watch out for the same about Ebola.

The Americans knew everything and have everything in its Centers for Disease Control (CDC); China deals with its chicken flu, H5N1, SARS, and Africa is frustratingly inept. A virus emerges in Africa, Europe or America go to its rescue. Africa owes us no explanation for its mendicancy. However, it is time for Africa to assume the white man’s burden, and for wealthy Nigeria to open the global CDC since the continent continues to co-create and globalise strange viruses.

We live next to the greatest nation since Rome. It exploits but is productive; a marketer, warmonger, hypocrite, but gives back—contradictory, but I understand it better than Africa. A great man said: “The good that I would I do not and the evil I would not that I do.” Were I in the 16th century with power and needs, I would enslave them just as they did to my forefathers—it’s the African way. I take no moral high ground. I never faced the challenge of needing a thing and said “this thing is legal but it is immoral so I will forego my prosperity”. Did you exit a party and piss by the host’s wall? I am not superior to he who enslaved me, nor is he necessarily more debased than me. I never walked in his shoes. Selah!

Ebola is a metaphor for Africa’s impotence. Its massive cities, billionaires, oil, minerals and farm pro­duction mean zip. Ebola is a haemmorhagic or pneumonic virus—fever, pains, bleeding, painful death—first noted in 1976 and Africa was helpless then. Has Africa developed a serum in 40 years? Is Africa responsible to itself or the global community? AIDS was identified in the 1970s and Africa had no cure then or now. It is lost unless Europe finds a cure for Ebola. Must we weep for Africa?

Can Ebola get here? Yes! Millions come by air and crews by ship. The American citizen who died in Liberia after he fell ill on an aircraft was to take a flight to the USA. How many carriers of Ebola are now in America? How many here? Will a returning resi­dent, tourist, a promiscuous sportsman, entertainer or a seaman bring it? Are our ports and sterile spaces ready? The Pentagon took two infected American volunteers—a doctor and nurse—to Georgia. Will our doctors volunteer for Africa? The World Health Organisation’s Margaret Chan says: “The disease is moving faster than our efforts to control it.” Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria are crucial; so step up ports screening here and pan-Africanists can now offer volunteer service to those nations.

—Courtesy Jamaica Observer


THE AUTHOR is a strategist,

project manager and advises

Jamaica’s minister of education.

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