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Opinions of Saturday, 18 October 2014

Columnist: Afedo, James Kofi

Ghana courting the Ebola devil

I have observed with great surprised and pain how certain developments are likely to lead us into the dreadful abyss of the deadly Ebola Viral Disease.

Latest statistics show that the Ebola virus has so far claimed more than 4,500 lives. I was completely gobsmacked one Monday morning to hear on the BBC that as many as 120 people had been killed by Ebola the previous Saturday in Sierra Leone alone. That is like a whole village.

The speed with which the disease is spreading and killing people makes it even more scary than the thought of dying in a road accident. The other day, I heard a story (joke) of a woman who fell ill with fever and flu-like symptoms. Scared of Ebola infection, she rushed to the hospital for diagnosis and treatment. She was taken through the usual routines at the consulting room and the laboratory. When she was told that her sickness was caused by HIV infection, the lady jumped in joy and started singing praises to God for his blessings and delivering her from Ebola. The rationale for this story is simple; HIV has an antidote called anti-retroviral that can keep you alive for a long time. But Ebola has no cure and can kill you within days.

Since the outbreak of the disease in the West African sub-region, life has not remained the same. Families cannot sit close to each other. You cannot shake hands in greetings. You cannot touch or hug each other. Even husbands are getting scared of sleeping on the same bed with their wives who may be suffering from a common flu. Not to talk about cultural and traditional rights which could not be performed on dead bodies to lay them to rest. Ebola is indeed an attack on our culture as Africans. It has the ability to wipe out a while generation. This is why we must all be on red alert to ensure Ghana does not smell a single incidence of Ebola. It is a great relief that all the suspected cases have proved negative so far.

Thanks to the foresight of His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama, the country has rolled out several public education initiatives and preventive measures to ensure we are not caught unawares. Also, despite the media's usual sensationalism and the near wish for the Ebola to reach Ghana, our God has spared us so far. But the Prophesy of my Habamus Papa Archbishop Nicholas Duncan Williams is scaring the hell out of most us (Ghanaians).

Nevertheless, it appears the government through its Ministry of Youth and Sports is courting the Ebola Devil. First, the decision to allow Ghana to play the AFCON 2015 qualifiers against Guinea, talk less of hosting the second leg in Tamale was a bad one. Guinea is one of the countries reeling under the iron fists of the dreadful Ebola. So allowing this match to take place with the potential of Guinean fans crossing our porous borders to support their team amounted to dancing with the devil.

I thought that was going to be end, until I woke up to the sad news that my Senior Comrade and Sports Minister Mahama Ayariga is contemplating Ghana as a host of the 2015 AFCON tournament which Morocco has declined to host because of the fear of importing Ebola into the country. South Africa has also vehemently and unequivocally rejected speculations that it may consider hosting the tournament. South Africa's decision was influenced by its desire to ensure that they do not get anywhere near the scourge of Ebola.

Dear Minister, consider the distance of Morocco and South African from West Africa and compare that to Ghana's distance from the epicentres of the disease (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone). If these two countries are not prepared to host the tournament because of the fear of Ebola, what justifications do you have in indicating that Ghana is prepared and can host the tournament? Do you realise you are courting and dancing with the devil? Do you realise that the entry of Ebola into this country will spell doom for all of us? Do you want to choose between the few dollars Ghana may get over losing the whole population to the scourge of Ebola?

Mr. Minister, I beg you as a Ghanaian and junior comrade to immediately drop this bad idea. If you are interested in the tournament, we (Ghanaians) are not ready to be killed by Ebola.

Think about how we cannot even take control of a common case of Cholera that has killed several hundreds of our dear compatriots and affected tens of thousands more. What makes you think that Ghana can stand the killing power of Ebola if it enters here?

Honourable Minister, please consider this appeal. Mr. President, please do not make this mistake by giving your approval to this terrible idea. It is a recipe for disaster. Otherwise, I will join the millions who will pray to God to demand every life to be lost to Ebola from you individually caused by one inappropriate decision to court and dance with the devil.

A word to the wise is always enough.

By: James Kofi Afedo (PR, Media and Crisis Communications Specialist) Email: james.afedo@gmail.com