In the wake of 1976, the melancholic phenomenon, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has assumed a disingenuous physiognomy; the resurgence, first, lenient and subtle, shirking earnest bids to apprehend its gravity, then, covertly and in a most mischievous manner, entrenching the recesses of our varied existence, yet, sporadically. With West Africa at the receiving end, the trio – Guinea, Sierra Leone cum Liberia has had their asymmetric chunks; all three cases extreme, riotous and deplorable. The EVD, ruinous and ruthless has a tragic grasp of the neighborly triad, death toll numbering into it thousands plus an inevitable consequential economic insolvency – a fiendish collaboration with the prevailing state of want. While the leadership of these penurious lands cannot be exonerated, it is imperative for any evenhanded evaluation – a kind that will garner positive response from the world – to contemplate holistically, the historical idiosyncrasies and the overall socioeconomic milieu amidst which the EVD infiltrated and escalated. These peculiarities, African’s big brothers and the superpowers, in an inadvertent collaboration, ostensibly blank over thus, promoting an underselling of the enormity of this scourge before the rest of the world. Needless to say that the EVD does not only plague the African populace; it leaves an indelible scar on the very forehead of humanity – a scar that all together epitomize the incongruousness of modern times just as Neil deGrasse Tyson perceived a long time ago: “even with all our technology and the inventions that make modern life so much easier than it once was, it takes just one big natural disaster to wipe all that away and remind us that, here on earth, we’re still at the mercy of nature” .
In the eurocentric implied dynamics of signification, Africa thrives as a paltry appendage on the fringes of the “us”; her place as the trifling “other” has only gained uncontested momentums in recent times. Africa is undoubtedly conscious of her place in the committee of nations -her lack and continued neediness – and for this, she solicits succor in the face of the belligerent EVD, but not at the price of her characteristic pride! Like Jesus of the biblical parable who felt the frantic touch of the woman with the flow of blood on the fringes of his garb and acted, will the global force rise to the occasion of Africa’s predicament and look with clemency the chattering African triplet? Of course there are uncontested wherefores that rather behoove the power blocs to.
The hitherto “battle field” that is now Liberia is populated by about 4 million people – the most populous African nation is about 40 times this nation. An overwhelming percentage of the people practice traditional religion with deeply ingrained unorthodox customs. It is imperative to state that only about 38 percent of the Liberia’s populace is literate with the rest of the people swimming in the filthy stream of stark illiteracy. With Agriculture as the mainstay of her economy; rubber, oil palm, cocoa and coffee her dominant export-oriented tree crops, Liberia whirl in the massive pool of delicate mismatch of poverty cum illiteracy from which the people are ever in need of liberation. It is equally important to state the obvious fact that in the aftermath of the civil war, Liberia’s over 1 million Monrovia populations shrunk significantly; the country thus loosing most of her vibrant and productive population as a result of which more woes have been called on the nation with inevitable harrowing economic corollary.
The United Nations estimates that Sierra Leone has the highest death rate in the world and the second highest infant mortality rate (195 out of every 1,000 infants die within a year of birth); this mismatch easily exacerbates the severity of the Ebola upsurge, quickly making it almost uncontainable. The remnants of Sierra Leone after the over a decade civil war that left over 1.2 million people displaced is nothing but an amalgam of a rumpled citizens on a bastardised land. But one cannot be quick to put the entire blame on the people for whatever scar the war inflicts. There is all plausibility of an external underpinning of the seasons of anomie that transcends the cartridges and cutlasses of the natives. Perhaps to testify to this, one of the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Sierra Leone was that “During the 11-year-long civil war, various factions targeted Sierra Leone’s rich diamond mines order to fund their military activities. Conflict diamonds were smuggled abroad and sold to dealers who ignored their origin, tragically prolonging the war.
It cannot be exaggerated that the three nations under focus –Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have always been interconnected and interdependent especially, as a result of their proximity to one another. The verity of the interdependence of the triplet nations was proven during the wars that the three nations had a harsh taste of. To exemplify, on March 23, 1991, the armed conflict in Liberia spilled across the border into Sierra Leone, stirring an 11-year civil war. A rebel group called the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) advanced rapidly on Kailahun and Koindu, Sierra Leone, prompting most of the local population to flee to guinea. The fighting in Liberia and then Sierra Leone did not fail to spill over Guinea eventually. Records has it that “when Charles Taylor launched his rebellion at Christmas 1989, he did so very close to the Guinean border, in the mineral-rich area where Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and the Ivory Coast meet. One of the first things that happened was that local people ran away, across the border into Guinea. They were the first of an eventual 500,000 refugees”. The clash over refugees from Sierra Leone inevitably led to relative political and social unrest in Guinea. It is almost effortless therefore, to understand the dynamics behind the unprecedented spread of the EVD across the trio Nations – the EVD in itself being a phenomenon that spreads like wildfire.
The traumatized triad in the new millennium has no resemblance of being; the Ebola malady is only a concretisation of their analogous nothingness. With the oddities with which these states are delicately encased, the people, yet to get over the nightmare of the days of bloodshed are suppressed by the reality of the Ebola epidemic. Against this suppression and repression, humanity ought to raise eyebrow.
It is not only ill-fated but very disheartening that just when Liberia is said to have achieved the highest Economic freedom score ever in the 2014 index, thus, moving out of the economically repressed, she runs into the murderous clutches of the EVD scourge, locked up even in a more traumatic social and economic captivity. Already, in a matter of months the Ebola Virus Disease has proven to the world that it’s no respecter of race, colour or religion and that no people are immune to it. With Liberia reporting hundreds of new cases on a weekly basis and Sierra Leone, Guinea battling with numerous new cases recorded; with the attitude of the natives toward the Ebola phenomenon, even till date – behaviors such as shying away from reporting cases of Ebola and keeping dead bodies at home – it seems the road to freedom from the EVD is going to be a long and tedious one; one that is yet embarked upon, one that the whole world would have to jointly trek.
In conclusion, despite our race, colour or economic stature, we all have similarities in our joint humanity. And of every human black or white, Carl Sagan has this to say: “every one of us, in the cosmic perspective is precious. If a human disagrees with you…in a hundred billion galaxies you will not find another”. If all humans therefore are precious, now is the time to act within our various capacities to salvage the African triplet from looming annihilation.
picture from Nairaland.com
picture from mainbaghihoon.blogspot.