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Opinions of Friday, 22 May 2020

Columnist: Yentik Gariba

African folks still live in limbo as to the reality of coronavirus

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It is mind boggling to note that a virus or disease that has no cure and has succeeded in killing tens of thousands of people globally is perceived in other parts of the world especially Africa, and Ghana to be precise, as a farce. The pandemic that has ravaged lives and collapsed economies of developed nations such as US, China, Italy, Spain, UK and many others who have first class health systems, is perceived in Africa especially among the rural folks as falsehood, unrealistic and above all non existent.

This perception, is born out of sheer illiteracy, ignorance, and the beliefs of the people which have enslaved them for centuries. It is shocking to note that one is almost ridiculed and berated when you appear in the countryside or visit the rural folks and raise the issue of the dreaded virus.

Many people don't take you serious! It is a worrying development and a recipe for human tragedy yet to befall Africa in this 21st Century. Therefore, the assertion that Africa is on a dangerous bearing to destruction with this perception if not nibbed in the bud, is obvious and bound to be actualised!

Unfortunately, our government's composure and commitment to fighting the virus as our common enemy is so politicised and reduced barely to mere window dressing exercises. It touches my heart that our already collapsing health systems which are not only inadequate in terms of hospital infrastructure, but poorly resourced in terms of advanced equipment and other relevant logistics to respond to the health needs of the populace.

What is happening in Africa, in my view, is a failure of political leadership! I am not a prophet of doom, but the attitude of governments, and indeed, the very people who are most at risk in terms of getting infected with the deadly virus are the greatest obstacle to fighting the pandemic.

The tragic consequence of this virus could be more devastating in Africa than even in Europe and America because of our attitudes, culture, beliefs, the political season, the rainy season and then the non commitment on the part governments in fighting the virus. That our governments are not committed is amply demonstrated by the lack of well organized education programs to deconstruct the mindset of the rural folks to accept practising the best practices that could help reduce the spread and help bring the situation under control. Governments have paid very lip services to the situation and some have even politicised it by distributing resources to their supporters in the name of fighting corona virus. It is a common knowledge that governments in Africa have attacked critics who thought they are not on top of the fight against the monster virus.

Instead, governments continue to praise themselves in the fight against corona virus despite the astronomical increases in virus case counts in various countries in Africa. The apparent closure of borders by governments are just mere rhetorical talks on weekly basis because there are several instances especially in Ghana where foreigners have found their way into the country despite the fact that the borders were closed and some cities partially shut down. And this poses the question of the job quality of our security agencies in the country.

One cannot stop but blame African leaders in the first place by allowing the virus into Africa. Some of the African leaders continued to travel abroad at the time the virus was ravaging Europe and China for whatever reasons God knows why! At the time they were supposed to close our borders, they were rather lavishing abroad as if they were immuned from it, or that the virus was far away. It is this attitude of lukewarmness and lack of the political will on the part of our governments to fight the dreaded pandemic that has brought us into this seemingly dangerous valley of no return. The same attitude is what our rural folks have adopted thinking it is either far away or that it is deceptive; that there is nothing like covid19 that actually kills.

Conclusively, it appears the announcement of recovery figures has not done us much good as people think they can be recovered if infected. The initial scare by the virus has died down completely. And I think the earlier African leaders stop announcing recovery figures publicly the better for us. Our governments must rethink and take a new paradigm shift in terms of their posture, attitude and commitment to combating the virus. Thank you!

Yentik Gariba


Cell phone: +233243054204


Northeast Region