Want to know the truth about Ebola?

Finally, one might actually believe that SOME of the media are starting to get that people don’t want to hear lies, fabrications and sensationalism any more!

This week, here are some examples of newspapers offering a different and more balanced perspective on ‘the terrorist of diseases’ Ebola.

On Nigeria and how it’s kicked Ebola’s ass (It is worth pointing out that in my opinion many of them are flawed in their patronising register of shock and surprise that a ‘developing’ country has managed to do such a thing):

Nigeria is Ebola-Free: Here’s What They Did Right in TIME

“Keeping borders open. Nigeria has not closed its borders to travelers from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, saying the move would be counterproductive. “Closing borders tends to reinforce panic and the notion of helplessness,” Shuaib said. “When you close the legal points of entry, then you potentially drive people to use illegal passages, thus compounding the problem.” Shuaib said that if public health strategies are implemented, outbreaks can be controlled, and that closing borders would only stifle commercial activities in the countries whose economies are already struggling due to Ebola.”

Nigeria’s hard-earned lesson in quashing Ebola in the Financial Times

“Against the odds, however, public health officials say one of the world’s more chaotic nations has provided an object lesson in how to deal with Ebola. It is a lesson that could prove salutary for western governments scrambling to come up with their own response.”

But then they also let themselves down by publishing this.

Senegal too, is fairing well:

In Conspicuous Success; Senegal is Declared Ebola Free in The New York Times

To be continued…

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27 years later…Thomas Sankara

I realised the other day that this week (yesterday in fact), marks 27 years since former president of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara, was murdered because of European and African interests in a coup d’état led by French-backed current president Blaise Compaoré. Having spent time in Burkina Faso and spoken to many people who adore him, I really couldn’t let this anniversary pass by without commemorating it in some way. Many of you reading this in the West may not have heard of Sankara, so this is for you.

One of the very first things I ever heard about Sankara when I was in Burkina was that he would often dress himself up in casual clothing and quietly take to the streets to talk to people and play football with children with little recognition or fanfare. He wanted it that way. He wanted to talk to people and know what was really going on, so that he could be a better leader.

Commonly referred to as Africa’s Che Guevara, Sankara is widely considered in the continent to be one of the great leaders of the Twentieth Century. His Pan-Africanism, sweeping social and economic reforms, commitment to women and challenging of the elite (both Burkinabé and international) and the West has labelled him a hero in the eyes of many.

I must hastily add that (in my opinion) Sankara is not without fault and he has been criticised by many for his often undemocratic policies. He was an authoritarian leader accused of human rights violations against his political enemies, he established Committees for the Defence of the Revolution and banned unions and free press. However, he championed Burkina Faso and the whole African continent, stood up to Western hegemony and “undertook one of the most ambitious programmes for social and economic change ever attempted on the continent.” In the words of Sean Jacobs (more below): “Sankara’s short four-year reign – for all its faults… pointed briefly to the potential of different political futures for Africans.” You really should know about him.

There is so much I could say about Sankara, but happily, there are two brilliant articles already written about him that will put it much better than I can.

The first; Sankara: Daring to invent Africa’s future was written in 2008 in the Guardian by Sean Jacobs, who wrote:

Sankara preached economic self-reliance. He shunned World Bank loans and promoted local food and textile production… Women, the poor and the country’s peasantry benefited mostly from the reforms. Sankara outlawed tribute payments and obligatory labour to village chiefs, abolished rural poll taxes, promoted gender equality in a very male-dominated society (including outlawing female circumcision and polygamy), instituted a massive immunisation programme, built railways and kick-started public housing construction. His administration aggressively pushed literacy programmes, tackled river blindness and embarked on an anti-corruption drive in the civil service.

You can read the full (and balanced) article here.

The second article appeared more recently on the Africa is a Country website (they are amazing, check them out).

It is the 27th anniversary of the death of Thomas Sankara, and once again we mark the passing of one of the great leaders of the Twentieth Century. Sankara was a Marxist revolutionary in the last years of the Cold War, a Pan-Africanist when the Pan-African project was at its lowest ebb, a committed feminist long before so-called “global civil society” started to preach about “empowerment” of women, a leader who sought to organize the uplift of a whole society long before elites began to boast about “Africa Rising”.

You can read the full article here and they’ve got some brilliant videos in their feature that are worth watching.

There’s still a lot more research I’d like to do on Sankara, but I’d be really interested to hear about what you know of him, or your thoughts on his leadership. Is he your hero? Can a great leader really be great and undemocratic? How can France and it’s co-conspirators justify his death? Thoughts welcome as always!

p.s I’d really like to know of any good books/websites/resources on Sankara so please do feel free to recommend.

 

Ebola – a lunchtime outburst

I have been meaning to write about Ebola for a while and have slowly been collecting stories and bits of information to help me write a considered and well-thought-out argument (which I still hope to get round to writing). But stumbling upon this story of the reaction of a health centre in Milton Keynes where I grew up on my lunch break today brought it all to a head. So before I overthink it, I’m going to post up my immediate thoughts on this ‘international crisis’ and share with you the comment I posted on the article on the MK News website.

But first (just quickly). Ebola. It’s certainly a topic you can’t ignore – it’s EVERYWHERE; there’s even a song about it (I’m not kidding – you can listen to it here). And in typical Western fashion, as soon as one of ‘us’ gets it (god forbid a disease that actually transcends Africa’s continental borders), you can bet your bottom dollar that media sensationalism, mass hysteria and reactive segregation (read: ‘othering’ and the discrimination again those who may have the disease leading to the justification of stricter immigration policies or simply banning flights from EVERY African country) will ensue and Ebola Survival Kits will soon be flying off the shelves.

Here is the original article as can be found on the MK News website (props to them for actually doing some research and stating that Ebola isn’t airborne):

EBOLA: What do you think to this sign outside Milton Keynes Walk-in Centre?

A sign has been put up outside the Walk-in Centre at Milton Keynes Hospital that tells people who have visited West Africa to wait outside and ring the bell for further advice.

The move comes after Farah Fassihi, from Kingsmead, returned from Nigeria feeling unwell and was ordered to wait outside the Walk-in Centre (Urgent Care Service) in case she had Ebola.

The sign reads: ” STOP: Have you visited Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia? Please ring the bell to your left and await further advice.”

MKWeb have looked at the myths surrounding Ebola and you can’t catch it from sitting next to someone in a waiting room as the virus is not air born, you can only catch it from sharing bodily fluids, but what do you think?

Here is what people said on our Facebook page, share your views below:

Corinna Schell commented: “I can understand that the patient was upset but honestly think the centre reacted appropriate. First of all they asked the right questions and they need to be cautious… We have heard how easy it can be transmitted even nurses in full protective gear …See More I can understand that the patient was upset but honestly think the centre reacted appropriate. First of all they asked the right questions and they need to be cautious… We have heard how easy it can be transmitted even nurses in full protective gear caught it…Not sure why they did not go and waited in the car and talked via phone. Similar to the swine flu the advice is to call first and then be asked to go to the appropriate area that then can set up everything for the patient. I wonder how easy the blood test is and how long the results take. Imagine she would have indeed had Ebola how many patients within a&e were at risk.”

Mike Jones said: “The headline could of easily of read ‘suspected Ebola patient was told to wait in waiting room full of patients including children!! ‘ They did right under the circumstances it they don’t have any isolation areas set. Crazy? No”

Lou Tom Saltyy said: “So they should be!! They should then be isolated, sorry but I don’t want all the little kids catching this!!

Stephanie Runawaywiththespoon commented: “I would stay at home and call first.”

Kat Randall said: “The walk-in-centre done the right thing in my book as there is chicken poxs going around and there could have been loads of kids in there safety for the kids is more important than getting cold I think ?”

Kerrie Hopkins added: “But if that was a child with expected Ebola but they wouldn’t of been made to stand outside for that long it’s just wrong they should of said sorry we can’t help u please go to A&E who can help as they are set up for it. Not leave someone stood there for so long not knowing what’s happening.”

Claire Armstrong added: “There is no hope.”

And this was my own Facebook comment on the article and the Walk-in Centre’s actions, written for the people of Milton Keynes:

I think that their (over) reaction was sensational and ridiculous, and most likely a symptom of the hysteria generated and perpetuated by the national media. Nigeria has handled the outbreak wonderfully and is actually only a few days short of being declared Ebola free (42 days without a case) – even the FT has reported this: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/4769ca32-52c4-11e4-a236-00144feab7de.html#axzz3G9JqRpCl. I fully realise that Ebola is a horrible disease and has already ruined many lies, but our Western tendency to fear the ‘other’, to pick and choose which international crises we care about (i.e anything for which there is the smallest possibility that it could affect us/white people) and to completely ignore the facts (i.e more people will die of influenza in the US than Ebola) has got to stop.

People need to calm down, pause, look at themselves and start thinking about other people. Instead of this mad panic that ‘Ebola’s going to get us’, we should stand in solidarity with those for whom it truly is a problem. Instead of reacting without thinking and immediately segregating ourselves from those who may or may not have the disease (a la the Walk-in Centre), we should show respect and admiration for the way Nigerians have come together to contain the disease and have shown us all how it should be done, we should practice empathy and compassion for those who are suffering with Ebola or truly ARE at risk of contracting it and who live without a provision like the NHS and stop making this all about ‘us’ as we tend to do.

I understand that people are scared, but it’s a fear that we create ourselves and can be reframed. We are all human after all and have the freedom to choose how we react. It’s time to stop reacting and start proacting!

I will write a more considered post on Ebola soon, but felt inspired to write this now, so I have. As usual I would welcome your thoughts, comments, criticisms, support etc. And as usual I will remind you that I am not an expert, will get things wrong and am fully open minded so am ready to change my opinion – so please share yours. If you’d like to write your own post on this issue or something similar, please do get in touch!

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Land Grabbing in Africa, the new colonialism – This is Africa article

Interesting article: Land Grabbing in Africa, the new colonialism posted on This is Africa back in May by Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire. Worth a read. I’ll have to do another post on this when I have more time but the conference in October will prove interesting. Please let me know your thoughts.

The silent recolonisation of Africa is happening on a mass scale. To address this issue, the first Africa Conference on Land Grabs is set to take place in South Africa on 27–30 Oct. 2014. Land is the source of life and death, but it might not always be with us.

One of the reasons South Africa’s apartheid system is said not to have vanished with the swearing in of Nelson Mandela as President is the question of land. The colonial system was complete in places where land ownership was taken away from the colonised, and decolonisation remains incomplete if the land does not return to its rightful owners, those who were brutally and slyly dispossessed.

Tragically, a silent recolonisation on a mass scale is happening through further dispossession in areas where the original colonisation had not been complete. The new colonisation is dressed in the language of economic development and fighting poverty but its interest is the satisfaction of the needs of multinational companies for markets and land to grow food for export – to satisfy the food needs of their primary market while depriving Africans the satisfaction of their needs.

Read the full article here.